The Sunshine State. California is one of the most beautiful states in the lower forty-eight. California is also home to some of the best camp sites in the world.
So, I thought I’d list some of my favorites.
California is home to nine national parks and hundreds of state parks. It’s literally a trove of natural beauty, not to mention gorgeous weather year-round.
This makes it a prime spot for campers. No matter where you are in California, there is somewhere reasonably close for you to go camping.
A small caveat: I’m not from California. Although I’ve spent some time camping there, I’m not an authority on the different sections of the state. So, if you are getting ready to let me know I categorized somewhere wrong, just know that I’m aware.
Also, I’m sure locals know of some hidden gems that I’m not aware of. Please leave a comment if you’re willing to share your favorite spots.
With all that out of the way, here’s my list of the 20 best campsites in California.
Top 20 Best Campsites in California
Blooms Creek Campground – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Tall redwood trees and nature sounds make Blooms Creek one of the best campsites in California. I love this campsite because of how secluded you feel here. It’s easy to forget the world exists. It’s just me, the trees, and bigfoot (he’s out there!)
There’s going to be quite a few beaches on this list. That’s because I’m from Minnesota, and I don’t get the ocean very often. Beach camping is also criminally underrated.
One of the best beach campsites in California is New Brighton State Beach, located in the Bay area.
This is a great campsite for falling asleep to the sounds of waves crashing. The sites are spread out, so you can have privacy, and there’s always families so your kids can run off and make friends.
Here’s a crazy idea, travel to an island to go camping.
Angel Island state park has some amazing campgrounds. You are away from the beach a ways, but it’s accessible. It’s also interesting to be in the forest and on the beach looking at San Francisco. It’s a great change in perspective.
Another great beach to camp on, Sunset State beach is nice, secluded, and great for families. They don’t get too busy, and it’s a bit more of a hidden gem.
Candlestick Point is a great bayside park right in the city. The waterscape is truly an artist’s dream, and there’s all kinds of park activities to partake in. It’s also close enough for day trips.
So, this site is a bit further north, but well worth it. The Black Sands Beach on the Lost Coast is a nearly forgotten treasure of Northern California. You can camp on the beach or back a way; it’s gorgeous either way. Just be sure to check and abide by tidal warnings, as the tides can be quite dangerous here.
Eagle Point Campground is one of the best campsites in California because it’s simple well rounded. It is clean, close to Lake Tahoe, and in the woods. If you want the authentic California Camping experience, Eagle Point gets my recommendation.
Growing up in Minnesota, you get accustomed to crisp air in the morning. This was a welcomed familiar feeling in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The biggest takeaway from this park is the beauty. The views are literally breathtaking and unique. For any nature nerd or photographer, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a great location.
You can’t go wrong camping in the Sequoia National Forest. Of their many campsites, Buckeye Flat is a standout.
They have clean facilities and the exact amount of seclusion I like in my camping excursions.
Lone Pine Campground is tucked away in a gorge, hidden from the world. As such, it’s a great location for anyone looking to disappear from the world for a while.
Death Valley probably isn’t a name you think of when you think of vacation spots. Personally, I try to avoid things with “death” in the title whenever possible. But for this, I’ll make an exception.
Whether or not you like camping in Death Valley at all is going to depend on you. Are you happy to camp in a parking lot in the desert? Then You’ll love it here. If not, then you’ll probably want to keep driving to a more forested area.
Still, there’s a certain feeling of conquering nature when camping where people shouldn’t be able to survive.
Accessible, beautiful, and located in one of the most beautiful forests in America. Kirch Flat Campground is one of the best campsites in California because it’s well kept. However, it relies on campers to keep it great, so be sure to clean up after yourself!
Yosemite is amazing. It’s warm during the day, and cool overnight. I could set up a tent in Yosemite Creek Campground and spend my life there.
Do you like views? Clean campsites? Nature sounds? Yosemite Creek has the best of it all. It’s a campsite that really lives up to the hype.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is one of the best campsites in California, and definitely among the best on the coast. It has great space and activities, and a variety of ways to camp.
If you have kids, I’d definitely bring them to Pfeiffer to learn to explore. Just be sure to be safe so nobody gets lost.
Sycamore Canyon Campground – Santa Barbara
Located on the historic Pacific Coast Highway, Sycamore Canyon Campground is a great campground for tents. RVs and trailers will have difficulty fitting in the small sites, however.
This is another campsite with woods and coastline. It’s close enough to things to be accessible, but far enough away to get some reprieve from the busy life in the valley.
Crystal Cove State Park is a great place to rent a cabin or bungalow on the beach. It’s located in sunny Laguna Beach, and the beach lives up to its reputation.
This is one of the best campsites in California for a glamping experience. Rent a house and vacation in style. We all deserve a bit of the high life from time to time.
Hole in the Wall Campground is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. If you go during their busy season, it feels like a micro-community sprouted up in the middle of nowhere.
This is a great spot for RV camping, with activities all around within a short drive. It’s one of the best campsites in California for a long weekend camping trip.
I have trouble describing the Joshua Tree Lake Campground to people. At first you look around and think, “Why would people choose to camp out here.” However, after the sun goes down, you’ll see why.
This is probably the best stargazing in California.
There’s nothing I love more than watching the fire smoke rise against the stars, telling stories, and just thinking about how small we are.
The Palomar Observatory Campground is one of the best campgrounds in California because it offers something for everyone. It has clean campsites and facilities, beautiful viewpoints, and the observatory itself satisfies the science nerd in all of us.
Those are Our Choices for the Best Campsites in California
We hope you liked our choices.
Obviously, there’s thousands of places to camp in California, and the best campsites in California are those you and your family feel most at home.
So, if you want to stay close to home, find a state park nearby. If you want to travel, look toward the national forest a few hours away.
Ultimately, find a place you think looks good, and just go. You’ll be glad you did.