Best Camping Sites in California

When visiting California, it is hard to know where to start. There is so much to see and do, from the beach to sky-high mountain peaks. The following are some places to check out where you can enjoy relaxing in nature and while accessing some incredible outdoor opportunities.

Sequoia National Park

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Of all of the amazing places to visit in California, Sequoia National Park is one of my favorites. There is something about the grand sequoia trees that draws me in. These majestic trees offer an amazing site and not one that you can find just anywhere. It can be hard to know where to camp when visiting this park; there are a myriad of options, some within the park boundaries and some outside of them. Eshom campground is outside the park boundaries, offering the chance to be close to the park while enjoying a more remote location.

Eshom is off the beaten path. If you are looking to camp within the park itself, Eshom campground will not be a fit. However if you are looking for someplace quiet with room to spread out, this is a great option for you. We visited in late June and the campground was nowhere near full, though the weather was ideal. At 4800 feet in elevation, the campground includes a variety of types of trees, from sequoias, cedars and ponderosa pines. There is a direct route that can be taken from the campground to Sequoia National Park; it is a dirt road, however it is not difficult to drive on. During our drive, we were fortunate to pass a number of cows just hanging out along the road. The cows sometimes hang out at the campground too, which delighted the kids.

The campground has pit toilets (which were very clean) and potable water is easily accessible. The closest services and places for groceries are in the park itself, so you will want to come prepared with what you need for your stay. There are hiking trails near the campground as well as a beautiful meadow. I enjoy camping within National Parks, however campsites are often close together and the campground full. Eshom offered us plenty of space and privacy while still being able to camp among the sequoias.

Redwoods National and State Parks

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When visiting Redwoods, check out the Mill Creek Campground. During our visit in early July, the campground was full, however the way the campsites are spaced out, it does not feel that way. Sites are private and some are set up so that there is a level for the tent set above where the fire pit and picnic table are. We were able to set up three separate tents at our campsite where we were surrounded by beautiful redwoods. The campground has clean, flush toilets and there are coin-operated showers. Water is easy to access as well.

The campground has really large tree stumps all over which are great for kids to climb on (and in some cases in). There are trailheads for several hikes right at the campground and at the right time of day you will experience trails lined with banana slugs. The nearest town is about 15 minutes away should you forget anything. The location of the campground is excellent overall; it is not far from the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a beautiful place to explore, as well as the Pacific Ocean.

Lake Tahoe

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About a mile away from the south shore of Lake Tahoe is the Fallen Leaf campground. The campground is on the north shore of Fallen Leaf Lake and next to Taylor Creek. This is a great place to camp to explore all that the Lake Tahoe area has to offer, while enjoying a less hectic atmosphere. In addition to 206 sites, the campground also has six yurts available. Sites have bear proof storage lockers and the campground has flush toilets and coin operated showers.

The campground includes pine, cedar, fir and aspen trees. Campsites are a short walk from the lake and surrounded by mountain peaks. While camping at Fallen Leaf Lake, you can enjoy swimming, boating, tubing, waterskiing and windsurfing. Hiking trails are available nearby. Amenities are easy to access from this campground, meaning it is no problem is you forgot to pack something or changed your mind about what you plan to cook.

Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite National Park is a popular place to check out and well worth a visit. The park offers a variety of campgrounds to meet ones preferences. Bridalveil Creek campground is a great option and its higher elevation means some relief from heat in the summer. The campground does not take reservations and while there are a lot of sites, the campground does fill up during weekends in particular. Bridalveil Creek campground offers flush toilets and sites have bear boxes, a fire ring and a picnic table. Considered to be one of the quieter campgrounds within the park, it is 26 miles from Yosemite Valley, meaning you will have a bit of a drive to get to some of the things you may want to see.

When staying at the Bridalveil Creek campground you will be surrounded by Red fir and Lodgepole pine trees and can catch views of granite peaks. Flowing near the campground is Bridalveil Creek and there are plenty of hiking trails near the campground; from a half mile trail to 13 miles.

San Clemente/Dana Point

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If you are looking to camp on or near the beach in Southern California, consider San Onofre Bluffs on the San Onofre State Beach. The camping area is easy to access as it is not far off the freeway. Camping is on the bluffs themselves, below which are a fire pit and picnic table. Many enjoy surfing the beach below and visitors can swim or enjoy a long walk. Rugged trails lead from the campsites to the beach and the views from the trails are pretty incredible. There are toilets available, as well as cold outdoor showers, perfect for rinsing off after a dip in the ocean.

At first I was not sure what to make of this campground; normally when camping you don’t expect to hear the sounds of the freeway. However, the proximity to the beach is great and camping on the bluffs is a unique experience. Enjoying the cool breeze during an early morning walk on the beach will help you forget you are not far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

This is just some of what is available when visiting California. In a state that offers a variety of climate and terrain, it is no surprise that options for camping can be varied. And with so many choices, one could easily camp regularly without ever visiting the same campground twice.

Please tell us about your experiences camping in California. What are some of your favorite campgrounds? What did you like about them?

  • Updated January 29, 2017
  • Blog
William
 

My name is William, a family man with two kids and the passion for camping. I started Pandaneo with sharing memorable camping experiences back as a newbie camper, introducing my family to the love for the great outdoors. As time passed, we started traveling across states, trying to hit as many campsites we can!