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Best Beach Camping In Northern California

South Carlsbad State Beach

BEST Northern California Campgrounds (MUST VISIT!)

One of the best California coastal campgrounds is located just north of San Diego at South Carlsbad State Beach. Half of the campsites are located on the bluff right above the beach with stairs leading down to the beach for easy access, with the other half just across from the bluff sites.

There are more than 200 campsites available and reservations open on a rolling 6 month basis. 13 sites include hookups , but RVs/trailers must not exceed 35 feet in length. Although dogs are allowed on leash at your campsite, dogs are not allowed on the beach. Beach campground information and reservations can be made here.

We hope this California beach campground guide helps you plan an amazing camping trip! Let us know in the comments if weve missed any epic beach camping spots along the California coast.

Camping Near Me: North Beach Campground

The North Beach Campground at Pismo State Beach features slightly more than one hundred campsites situated along multiple loops by Carpenter Creek, as well as near sand dunes by the beach. All of these sites, majority of them grassy, are able to accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs, with plenty of space between campsites. While the campground isnt located directly on the beach, it does offer direct beach access, as well as shower facilities, restrooms, and wireless internet near the restaurant about three-fourths of a mile away. The park itself offers walking trails, a butterfly preserve, and a nature center.

399 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449, Phone: 805-473-7220

Bodega Bay: Sonoma County

Photo: AlessandraRC/Shutterstock

Hear the name Sonoma, and you probably think immediately of wine country. But the reason grape varieties like pinot noir and chardonnay thrive in Napas cooler, wetter neighbor is the same reason that the region is so irresistible for beach camping: the beautiful Sonoma Coast.

Bodega Bay, in particular, has some of the best beach camping in California. Wedged between the town of Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor, Doran Regional Park alone has five different campgrounds Shell, Gull, Cove, Miwok, and Jetty with over 120 campsites in total. The entire regional parks system has more than 200 year-round campsites, with another 46 tent and RV sites at Westside Regional Park in Bodega Bay. Reservations at either park are required and can be made up to a year in advance.

A few miles north, the Bodega Dunes Campground has 99 tent sites of its own. Just north of that, between Bodega Bay and the mouth of the Russian River, theres yet another campground at Wrights Beach. It has 27 developed sites and accepts walk-ins.

Primitive sites are also available at the Willow Creek and Pomo Canyon environmental camps in Sonoma Coast State Park. There are 32 sites between them, all of which are first-come, first-served and near some of the best trailheads in the area. The Kortum Trail is a local favorite, traversing roughly 4.5 miles from Wrights Beach.

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Lava Beds National Monument

If you want to blend your passion for camping with adventuring, this is just the place for you to visit in northern California. When you are here you will be surprised to know that you are standing on grounds with hundreds of caves and lava tubes right under your feet. If you are adventurous enough, get your torch and backpack ready to explore some of these caverns. It is located nearly 100 miles away from Mt. Shasta to its northeast. See more info about their campgrounds.

Plan your adventure: National Monument California

Humboldt And Del Norte Counties

Where To Camp On The Beach In Northern California Campgrounds ...
  • Agate Campground – Patrick’s Point State Park, premium campsites with partial ocean views, close to Agate Beach trail.
  • Big Lagoon County Park – campsites among the trees with views of the Pacific and Big Lagoon
  • Gold Bluffs Beach Campground – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, tent-only campsites along the edge of the beach.
  • Nickel Creek Campground – Redwood National Park, walk-in tent sites next to Enderts Beach. Ocean views limited from campground.

Also Check: Olympic National Park Beach Camping

Dl Bliss State Park Campground

D.L. Bliss State Park is the perfect place for those who want a quick getaway from the city. Aside from being less than 20 miles from Tahoe Cityand a 13-minutes drive from South Lake Tahoe. This state park is one of the best options for residents in the area. This is not surprising since there are 250 campsites to choose from. Many of which are often booked during the summer season. In addition, each campsite has picnic tables and fire rings. If you are looking for other options, you can also check out Meeks Bay Resort and Emerald Bay State Park.

California Beach Campgrounds: Wright’s Beach Campground

The Wright’s Beach Campground features twenty-seven developed sites next to a sandy beach. Flush toilets and running water are offered at the campground, and while no shower facilities are provided at Wrights Beach, there are hot showers available at the nearby Bodega Dunes Campground. Each campsite features paved parking spurs, fire rings, and picnic tables, and many sites offer amazing ocean views. The beach is also connected to other beaches nearby through the Kortum Trail. Reservations are definitely recommended for the weekend during peak season. Other activities include hang gliding, bird watching, photography, and wildlife viewing.

7095 CA-1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, Phone: 707-875-3483

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Montaa De Oro State Park

Translating to Mountain of Gold, Montaña de Oro State Park is a real gem on the California Coast. The park features rugged cliffs, miles of hiking trails, secluded sandy beaches, canyons, streams, and hills including the 1,347-foot Valencia Peak.

The most popular beach is Spooners Cove, across from the campground. Golden wildflowers bloom each spring, hence the parks name. There are 50 campsites that are reservable up to 6 months in advance. RVs up to 27 feet are allowed in the campgrounds. Dogs are allowed in the campground and at Spooners Cove, but no other beaches or trails.

Andrew Molera State Park Big Sur

BEST Central California Beach Camping (MUST VISIT! – Hearst, Cambria, Stanislaus)

While most of the places to go camping in Californias Big Sur get snatched up months in advance, the 1/2 mile walk to the 24 first-come, first-served campsites at Andrew Molera State Park is enough to deter some campers. This means if you arrive early enough in the day, you might just get lucky and snag a site right along the Big Sur River which runs right through the middle of the park. The campground is an open meadow, so sites dont afford a ton of privacy, but the location more than makes up for that. Plus, Andrew Molera has some of the best hiking trails in Big Sur.

Hiking in Andrew Molera State Park

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Best Rv Parks In Northern California Top 10 Spots

Looking for the best RV Parks in Northern California? With so many to choose from it can be difficult to get the right one, but fear not as we’ve reviewed some of the very best.

Camping at a park in your RV is a unique experience, and Northern California has some of the best parks in the country. Finding the best spot to camp and enjoy the campsite can help you kick back and relax, take in the nature around you, and maximize your RV adventure!

California is such a popular destination for RVers that the campground choices throughout the state are in abundance. We have shortlisted the best RV parks in Northern California to help save you time and make sure you don’t stay at some dodgy park. So, with that said, let’s get into it.

Russian Gulch State Park :

Time and time again, I go on about how much I love the Russian Gulch State Park and the fact that there is a campground right inside it makes it even better.

You will have tons of things to do in this park , in addition to kayaking, hiking and more.

You can see my article above for a list of things you can do at Russian Gulch state park.

But overall, its a mixture of very scenic views, an absolutely stunning panorama, a beautiful beach and nice hikes to explore on the coast and in the forest near the beach .

I cant say enough about Russian Gulch and how much I love it. Its one of my favorite places in California.

And its one I plan to revisit every single time I am in the area.

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Silver Lake West Campground

Silver Lake West Campground features 42 sites that can accommodate up to six people and one vehicle each. The campground is located on the north shore of Silver Lake, and it offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The cost per night is only 30 dollars per person, but discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, and disabled people. These discounts can reduce the cost to as low as 25 dollars per person.

The site does not include showers, but there are vault toilets and piped water available. You can also find storage boxes for bear-proof food lockers, as well as fire rings or grills to cook your meal.

At Silver Lake West Campground you can also find opportunities for fishing, swimming, and hiking. You can also enjoy mountain biking, as the campsite is located near many trails.

Andrew Molera State Park

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The Andrew Molera State Park is located in a pretty meadow near the Big Sur River. This location has twenty-two standard campsites and two hike-and-bike sites available for reservation. Each spot includes a picnic table, fire pit, and food storage container. Potable water is available.

They dont allow reservations with less than forty-eight hours notice, so make sure you plan ahead if youre considering this location.

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San Clemente State Beach

This fabulous beach is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California.

Youll find several intriguing sandstone crag formations throughout San Clemente State Beach to view and photograph. It is a terrific destination for outdoor activities like boating, fishing, hiking, surfing, and paddleboarding.

I also recommend exploring the San Clemente Pier, which has many bars, eateries, and gift shops.

Some other popular attractions in the area include the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, Sea Summit Trail, and Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center.

Experience San Clemente State Beach firsthand by making a reservation for an overnight trip. The campground features 160 sites, including approximately 72 with full R.V. hook up.

Each location offers guests an outdoor grill, picnic table, and fire ring. Plus, there are two hiking trails at the campground that will lead you directly to the beautiful San Clemente State Beach.

Madrone Huckleberry And Dawn Redwood

Region: Redwood EmpireSwimming: swimming holes

On the highway right through Richardson Grove State Park, everyone slows to gawk at the tallest trees in the world, one of the most impressive groves of redwoods you can drive through in California. There are several campgrounds available at the park, as well as a network of outstanding hiking trails. The Eel River runs through the park, providing excellent summer swimming holes and thus making reservations a necessity from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.

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Salton Sea State Recreation Area Campground

If you are looking for RV sites in Southern California, the Salton Sea is one of them. This site offers guests a rare view of one of the largest inland seas. Aside from that, there are six campgrounds available with hookups for RV owners. The best way to make your trip here worthwhile is to reserve a spot ahead of time.

Best Beach Camping In California For Rvers

The 10 Best Camping Sites In California

Before we go through this list its very important to always double-check the state parks and campsite before you head there. Between fires and other considerations, they might be closed. At the time of this publication, only one is, but please always do your own due diligence.

Were gonna start in the South and work our way up. Its probably no surprise to you that the first few are in a place known around the world for its beaches: San Diego.

Location: Coronado, San Diego County

Type of Camping: RV camping

Located along a 7-mile isthmus between the cities of Coronado and Imperial Beach in San Diego is this unique campground.

It is named after silver oyster shells that cover the sand. You can also take a short walk to San Diego bay, reached via an under highway bridge from the beachside.

It has 129 campsites that all include water and electric hookups. The campground also offers potable water, flush toilets, a dump station, and showers. They lock the bathroom at night, so you must show proof that you have a self-contained toilet for the nighttime.

Campsites 101-137 are beachfront, with gorgeous ocean views.

Location: Encinitas, San Diego County

Type of Camping: Drive-in tent camping, RV camping

Swim, surf, picnic, and camp at this gorgeous beach. Then pop over to nearby Cardiff-by-the-Sea or Encinitas to grab a bite to eat.

There are 165 sites on a bluff above the beach, with 26 offering full hookups. About 1/3 offer obstructed ocean views.

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Angel Island State Park Campground

With ferries departing from all over the San Francisco Bay area, Angel Island State Park in the middle of the Bay offers a quick and quiet escape from the commotion of the city. 9 coastal campsites are spread out all over the island, with views of the SF Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the famous cityscape, and the rolling Marin Headlands. All sites have potable water and a pit toilet.

To explore the island, hit the trail to the top of Mt. Livermore, the islands tallest point, or rent a bike and cruise around the islands perimeter.

Redwood National And State Parks

There is a lot of effort that goes into maintaining this place and keeping it in good condition. To support these efforts, you are recommended to spend some time in the state parkâs campground. The park is surrounded by some of the tallest trees in the world. When visiting in summer, you are highly recommended to make reservations. Once you are out of the awe of being among these tall trees, you can take a hike on more than 200 miles of trails. It is one of the camping experiences you will never forget.

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Point Mugu State Park

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains close to Malibu, Point Mugu State Park has two beach campgrounds Thornhill Broome Campground and Sycamore Campground. Sycamore is located on the east side of the highway, so if you are looking for true California beach camping, Thornhill Broome should be your top choice here as its located right on the beach.

Thornhill Broome has 69 primitive sites available and Sycamore has 58 there are no hookups available at either campground. There are 70 miles of hiking trails located near these campgrounds, making it the perfect weekend getaway spot.

Please be advised that due to tidal influence and storm surge, the Thornhill Broome Beach campground is subject to flooding and closure. More camping and reservation information is available here.

Thornhill Broome Campground

Crystal Cove State Park: Orange County

The Best Camping Spots on the Northern California Coast

Photo: SunflowerMomma/Shutterstock

Crystal Cove is one of few remaining coastal stretches in Orange County thats mostly undeveloped. In addition to a three-mile beach, the park also spans 2,400 backcountry acres and has an underwater park where campers can scuba dive. All told, Crystal Cove is one of the prettiest state parks in California.

One of the parks coolest features is the collection of vintage cottages available to rent. They date back to the early-to-mid-20th century when Crystal Cove was a small seaside colony. But you can also BYOA that is, bring your own accommodation in the shape of a tent or RV. The parks Moro Campground has 30 tent sites, 27 full hookup sites, and 32 primitive backcountry sites, although the latter are a considerable hike away from the beachfront.

Also Check: Blue Ridge Parkway Rv Camping

San Elijio State Beach

Nature lovers will appreciate all that San Elijio State Beach, in Encinitas San Diego, has to offer.

The beach is well-maintained to ensure the safety and preservation of its surrounding ecosystem. Various wildflower species are dispersed around the coast, including the California brittlebush and Coastal prickly pear. In addition, you will find many animals around the shore and hiking trails.

Be sure to stop for a memorable scenic hike that takes you through a beautiful sandstone slot canyon.

You may want to go snorkeling or scuba diving at Cardiff State Beach to see colorful coral and marine life up close. Experienced divers can swim down to underwater sea caves.

A fantastic nature preserve is about six minutes away from the state beach called San Elijo State Beach Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center.

You can view colorful plants and wildlife, such as coyotes, mule deer, and Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes. Although, you may not want to get too close to the latter.

San Elijio State Beach Campground has around 170 oceanfront campsites with easy access to the beach. These sites offer full hookups, fire pits, picnic tables, and barbecue access. In addition, there is an amphitheater, gift shop, snack bar, and operational restrooms with flush toilets.

Dogs are allowed on the grounds and kept on a leash when outside. However, they are not allowed to enter the sandy state beach.

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