Top 10 Campsites in California
California is one of the most popular places to go camping, so where should you pitch your tent? Whether you’ve got a car full of kids or are looking to access your inner Zen, Cali has got you covered. This guide has some of the best campsites in California for families, thrill-seekers, and those who just need a break.
Best California Campsites for Families
California’s Casini Ranch Family Campground
Want to take a camping trip that feels more like a luxury vacation? Casini Ranch, located in Duncan Hills, is the perfect California campsite for your family. There are countless activities for all ages; hayrides, movie nights, ice cream socials, and more. Spend the day working it out on the basketball court or hiking the various trails, and wind down as the sun sets with a trip to the campground’s beach bonfire. Those who don’t want to use their time in nature to unplug don’t have to worry; the site even provides wifi!
Whether you’re pitching a tent, hauling the RV over, or wishing for a less traditional camping experience, Casini Ranch has got you covered. Rent a stay in the ranch house, cottages, or cabins available on the grounds. And don’t worry if you forget some snacks or camping supplies; the general store has everything you need to stock up.
California’s Dogwood Family Campground
The Dogwood Family Campground is a beautiful oasis about 20 miles northeast of San Bernardino. It’s surrounded by a dense forest of cedar, pine, and fir trees, which attracts a variety of birds and other wildlife. The ground offers dozens of single-family sites, primarily for California tent camping. Every campsite comes with a picnic table, grill, and campfire circle. Pack some marshmallows and hot dogs!
Between April and October, your family can experience boating, fishing, and hiking. Don’t worry if you’re traveling with little ones; the hiking trails are short so you can get back to your tent before nap time. You can book nonelectric campsites for $37/night, or electric ones for $10 more.
California’s Camp Williams Resort
Families living or traveling near the Los Angeles area need to check out one of the best RV campsites in California, Camp Williams Resort in Azusa. They offer tenting on the banks of San Gabriel River, full-hook-up RV sites surrounded by oak trees, or comfy camping in their Hobbit House cabin. Your family can enjoy California’s gorgeous weather year-round while hunting, fishing, bird watching, and even panning for gold. Start your morning at the resort cafe for breakfast, or hit up the general store for some munchies. At the end of the day, wind down with a private shower in the resort’s modern restrooms.
Reserve a California RV campsite or stay in the Hobbit House for $80/night. Or, relish in the waterfront camping experience for $75/night. Keep in mind that the first six people in your travel party are covered when you book, but there is an additional fee for any extra people or vehicles.
Northern California’s Elk Prairie State Park
Does your family want a camping trip with some true wildlife encounters? Consider checking out California’s Elk Prairie campground, located in the Prairie Street Redwoods State Park. The park protects sandy beaches and lovely meadows, along with herds of elk, making it one of the best campsites in northern California. Don’t approach the elks and try to become best friends, but admiring them from afar is an unforgettable experience.
Since the campgrounds are located in one of California’s state parks, there are lots of hiking and biking trails. If the family’s up for it, everyone can grab their bikes and glide down the 19-mile bike loop. After a long day, bring your tents or ditch them and crash in one of the ground’s cabins. You can book your cabin as far as six months in advance; plenty of time to study the map and figure out your camping itinerary!
Best California Campsites for Adventurers
California’s Kirk Creek Campground
California’s Kirk Creek Campground is a must-see for adventurous campers. The breathtaking site in Big Sur overlooks the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty activities to keep your itinerary packed and adrenaline high, including hiking, surfing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, fishing, and so much more. It’s close to scenic trails that lead visitors into the Los Padres National Forest for even more opportunity to connect with nature.
When your adventures of the day wind down, freshen up in the on-site restrooms. Don’t forget to find the firewood vendor before heading to your tent for the evening. Why not extend the fun with some s’mores, campfire stories, and a beautiful view? That is, as long as you packed bug spray! Bring your pets, lots of water, and be sure to book your stay at least three days in advance.
California’s Joshua Tree National Park
If you’re a nature lover, you’ve probably heard about California’s Joshua Tree National Park. The southern California campground is one that every camper needs to check off their bucket list. This Californian National Park has breathtaking views and wildlife will fulfill all your adventure-seeking needs.
When it comes to campsites, there are tons to choose from in Joshua Tree. Some are first come first serve, in case you make an impromptu visit. However, some locations, like Black Rock, Jumbo Rocks, and Ryan require reservations. Traveling with a big group? The Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Sheep Pass sites can accommodate between 10 and 60 people. They need to be reserved ahead of time, but you are able to book your reservations as soon as six months ahead of time. During your trip, you can expect to enjoy stargazing, panoramic views of stunning California, bird watching, wildflower viewing, and more. Remember to check the website before you leave for park updates so you can enjoy one of the best campsites in southern California.
California’s Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is another one of California’s beloved national parks, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Visitors love viewing the large ancient California sequoia trees, waterfalls, and rock formations. There are several different lodging options, including 13 campgrounds, simple tent cabins and deluxe rooms. Some options are reservable as early as 366 days in advance while others are first come first serve. There are also 10 spots that can accommodate RV’s and trailers, but be sure to check their size regulations.
Spend your days in Yosemite National Park backpacking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, boating, and taking exclusive tours. Winter sport enthusiasts can participate in cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, and sledding during the colder months. Even artists can get their fix with the art galleries and ample opportunity for photography. Just be sure to make a reservation if you’re rolling in during peak hours (6am-4pm) from May 20th – September 30th.
Best California Relaxing Campsites
California’s King Range National Conservation Area
This beautiful campsite along 35 miles of California’s north coast is a must-visit for those seeking oasis and relaxation. The secluded campground is only three miles from the ocean and provides lots of opportunities to connect with wildlife. Along the lost coast trail, there are northern elephant seals; they’re adorable, but don’t get too close! The paradise royale mountain bike trail system cycles you through lush forests and phenomenal ocean views that are sure to clear your mind of stress.
There are lots of California campsites to choose from such as Mattole, Tolkan, and Nadelos. Check availability so you’re sure you have a spot to camp before rolling up the sleeping bags and , packing the tent. Head to the service window upon your arrival to receive crucial services like planning advice, maps, tide charts, a bear canister, and updated conditions information. Once you’ve learned some key tips from a staff member, head out for hiking, hunting, surfing, or fishing.
San Francisco’s Angel Island State Park Walk-in/Boat-in
What’s more relaxing than escaping to an island for your next camping getaway? Located on the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, it offers some of the most stunning views of the surrounding area. Visitors can reserve lodging or camp spots online six months in advance, including family, group, and environmental campsites. The immersive experience takes you to the island by ferry, and once you arrive, there are plenty of activities to choose from on this boat-in campground in California.
Schedule a guided tour of the historic island to feel like you’re walking through time. If you’re more of a free spirit, enjoy lunch in one of the picnic areas, go fishing, or visit one of the museums. Bring your swimsuit, because after a long day of outdoor excursions, you can chill in the ocean (or windsurf if your adrenaline still isn’t running on empty).
California’s Catalina Island
Travelers who need the perfect balance between a nature adventure and a relaxing vacation will find it on California’s Catalina Island. It’s one of California’s Channel Islands, lying southwest of Los Angeles. You can expect to experience wildlife, epic dive sites, golf courses, buzzing nightlife, and more. Start your morning off with breakfast at the West End Galley, spend the day ziplining and boating, and end the night by dancing under the stars at the patio bar. You can also book a special undersea submarine journey around the Deep Ocean of California’s Catalina Island while staying completely dry. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Catalina Island allows you to make your camping trip as authentic, or luxurious as you want. There are lots of sites for tent camping and other lodging options. Just be sure to note your travel part size, because some locations have strict limits on how many can stay. Want to get extra fancy on the Island? Consider attending the Catalina Wine Mixer (although there’s no guarantee that Dale and Brennan from Stepbrothers will be there).
Now that you know some of the best spots for each type of camper in California, gather your group, make some plans, and go explore! Check out the Crow Survival blog before you go so you can guarantee a tent, or RV, full of happy campers.