Camping

Best SoCal Campgrounds: The Ultimate Camping Road Trip

A two-month road trip took us from way up in Vermont, to Southern California. From here we journeyed up the coast, camping along the way. It became harder to find campgrounds last minute, particularly campgrounds with open sites once we entered California. These were our four favorite stops in SoCal and everything you need to know about them before you get there! We will go from South to North:

Cleveland National Forest, Bobcat Meadow Campground

Cost: National Forest Adventure Pass (Annual pass= $30, day pass= $5)

Amenities: 2 pit style toilets

# of Campsites: 20

Just over an hour outside of San Diego this secluded wooded area makes for a fabulous retreat from the city hustle and bustle. The Cleveland National Forest is the southern most National Forest in California. It encompasses 460,000 acres. Bobcat Meadow Campground is located within the Corral Canyon OHV Area, so bring your toys! This spot has 1.2 miles of trail, with lots of options to get to connecting trails. This is a first come, first serve campground.

San Clemente State Beach

Cost: $35 for no hookups, $65 for hookups

Amenities: Each campsite has a table, fire ring and grill. Some of the campsites have shade structures. The campground has an amphitheater, flush toilets, pay showers, a dump station and picnic area.

# of Campsites: 160 (69 with full hookups)

Roughly two hours up the coast is San Clemente State Beach—SoCal beach camping at its finest! San Clemente State Beach has been a state beach since 1931. It is a mile-long beach tucked under steep sandstone bluffs. Looking to get off the beach? Explore the nature trails around the park! We highly suggest making reservations way in advance to assure a spot here!

Faria Beach Park, Ventura, CA

Cost: Non-hookup sites: $37.00 per day, per site (campsites 1 – 13); Non-campfire sites $35 per day, per site (campsites 25-38). Weekend  and holiday rate $39 per day; Non-campfire sites $37 per day

Hookup sites: $50.00 per day, per site (full hook-up sites 14 – 24); $55 per day, per site 39-42. Weekend and holiday rate $53 per day; $58 per day, per site 39-42

+ $1 pet fee

Amenities: Pay showers, full hookups (50/30/20 amp), WiFi, and concession stand

# of Campsites: 38

Another 3 hours northwest from San Clemente is the hidden paradise of Faria Beach Park. With only 38 highly desirable campsites, you must make reservations in advance to get a spot here. The park lies between the Pacific Ocean and the base of the Santa Ynez mountains along Highway 1. Sit on the rocks just behind your tent and watch dolphins swim by while you sip your morning coffee. The concession stand has a delicious and well-priced menu, and the entire park has WiFi. Unbelievable! There is a set of stairs to the right of the campground (if looking out to the ocean), where you can access the beach. This spot is seriously a slice of heaven! Enjoy! 

Wildrose Campground, Death Valley National Park

Cost: $0

Amenities:

# of Campsites: 23

You can get to Death Valley National Park in 4 hours from Ventura (and then about another 15-20 minutes to get to the campground). Desert camping is an amazing experience! Death Valley is the hottest, lowest, and driest area in North America. There is something magical about the desert’s unique landscape and cool evening air. We highly suggest veering off the coast and heading inland to explore this wild place. From this campground you have easy access to check out several points of interest within the park. 

California is a huge state with so many amazing places to camp. We hope you get out, have fun, and explore this summer! Happy trip planning!

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