Beach Camping North Of San Francisco
North of San Francisco along Highway One, you’ll find some of California’s most jaw-dropping scenery. Use this guide Highway One north of San Francisco to see what it’s like, and you’ll be running out to pack up the car right away.
As you drive, you’ll find cliffs plunging straight into the sea and dramatic “sea stack” rock formations offshore, but few beaches and even fewer places where you can camp at one. These are the spots where you can go beach camping in Northern California, in order from south to north.
Sonoma Coast State Beach and Gold Bluffs are both state parks, and if you have never used the state park camping reservation system, you’ll find it frustrating and with so many rules that it would make a Supreme Court Justice’s head swim. But don’t worry, you can find out how to use it in this guide to California State Park Reservations.
Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds
Carpinteria State Beach, south of Santa Barbara, features four adjacent campgrounds – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Visitors to the Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds enjoy wonderful, sandy beaches along with attractions such as Jellybowl Vista Point, the Harbor Seal Preserve, Tomol Interpretive Play Area, and Tar Pit Park. Some campsites are spread out a little more than others, some are designated for RVs or trailers only. All are within easy walking distance of the beach and other facilities.
Altogether the Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds offer 191 family sites. Some campsites have hook-ups, and some beach-front sites are designated as premium. Amenities such as hot showers, full hook-ups, an on-site store, a visitor center and summer interpretive programs make Carpinteria’s campsites among the most sought-after on the Santa Barbara coast. Carpinteria State Beach also has a Hike & Bike Site, Enroute camping, and several Group Camps.
|Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds Basics|
|Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds Location:||Palm Ave. in Carpinteria, 12 miles south of Santa Barbara|
|Reservations at Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds|
|Reservations available||Reservations are available year-round up to 6 months in advance of arrival date. Some sites may be available first-some, first-served.|
|Maximum Vehicle Length:|
|#5, 15, 38, 52, 64|
|or call 444-PARK between 8 AM and 6 PM|
National Parks Campgrounds In California
If you are looking to make reservations at a campground in one of the U.S. National Parks located in California, you can book sites through Reservations.gov
Similar to Californias state parks, national park sites are releases for booking 6 months out. For instance, the first day you could book a site for July 1 is on January 1 of that same year.
In some campgrounds, reservations are only required or needed in peak season. For instance, Joshua Tree requires reservations from September through May, the cooler months when the temperatures this desert park are comfortable.
Some parks have first-come-first-serve campgrounds that dont require reservations. However, during peak season, particularly on holidays and weekends, counting on finding a space in these campgrounds is a gamble. Be prepared with a contingency plan, such as dispersed camping, in case you cant secure a spot.
General Camping Information For
Opening and closing dates of campgrounds are only estimates, usually dependent on snow conditions. Not all campsites can accommodate trailers or RVs of all lengths. If using a reservation website, check to be sure your vehicles will fit in the parking space for your campsite.
In order to prevent the spread of invasive insects, obtain firewood locally.
Lakewood Landing Boat Launch
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Green River Lake
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Tent Trailer And Rv Camping
Jalama Beach County Park maintains 107 campsites, all overlooking the ocean or beachfront. Each site has a picnic table and BBQ pit, with hot showers, restrooms and water nearby. 31 sites offer electrical hookups, and dump stations are available.
Campsites reservations are available online by clicking on the “Make a Reservation!” button on the left. Reservations may be made up to 6 months, to the day, of the check-in date. Keep in mind that summer is our busiest time, and that campsites fill fast. Check-out is 1:00 pm. Campers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
View a detailed Camping Map .
For the safety and enjoyment of all, a maximum of 8 persons and/or 2 vehicles are allowed to be at any single campsite at any time. These limits will be strictly enforced and groups that exceed any of these limits will be required to purchase and set up at an additional campsite. If no additional campsites are available, you may be asked to leave the park. Vehicles MUST be parked at the location of the parking permit.
Failure to comply with park rules can result in a County Notice to Appear Citation with fine and/or eviction. Santa Barbara County Code Chapter 26:
Sec. 26-61- Vehicle parking at campsite. No person shall park, permit, or maintain more than two motor vehicles at any campsite within any county recreation area without the prior authorization of a CSD employee on duty within the area.
Beach Camping In California
This Crystal Cove beach is near Moro Campground in Laguna
We have every California beach campground covered on our site. Many are right on the beach so watching the sunset before heading back to your camp spot is easy. While few allow pitching a tent right on the sand, these beachside campgrounds still offer an outdoors experience with the benefits of beach walks and the sound of waves throughout the evening.
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San Clemente State Beach Overview
San Clemente State Beach campground has 159 campsites and is located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. There are also 5 vintage trailers for rent and 2 group campsites available . Individual campsites can have 2 vehicles and 8 people per site.
Campsites 1 to 72 are the full hookup sites . The majority of these campsites will accommodate RVs & trails up to 42 feet. Campsites 4 and 5 are limited to 36 feet and sites 57-59 are limited to 32 feet. Campsites 73-159 are dry sites that will accommodate tents, trailers and small RVs. Each campsite also has a table, fire ring and grill. Most of the campsites also have shade structures.
Campground amenities include an amphitheater, flush toilets, hot showers, a gift shop, dump station, picnic area and overflow parking. Theres also two trails to the beach, a ranger station and visitor center.
Accessible sites include: 20, 73, 93, 98, 104, 113, 126, 134, 138, 141, 155, 156 and 159.
Group Camp #1 is limited to 50 people and 20 vehicles. It is located on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Group Camp #2 is a tent-only campsite and limited to 50 people and 10 vehicles. Maximum vehicle length is 20 feet you can drive in or back in. It has a partial blue water ocean view.
San Clemente State Beach Area Recreation
How To Make A Reservation
The reservation system allows campers to plan ahead and secure their campsites, thus reducing long waiting lines and turn-aways at park entrances.
Online: The link to Reserve California and the phone numbers that follow include all campgrounds that provide the convenience and service of reserving a campsite. Online reservation and other helpful information on camping is also available at CA State Parks.
Call For Reservations at TEL: 1-800-444-PARK International Callers: TEL: 916-638-5883 TDD: 1-800-274-7275
To Cancel a Confirmed Reservation Call Customer Account Services between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, 7 days a week at TEL: 1-800-695-2269.
Your original reservation fee is non-refundable.
Camping Without a Reservation For California State Parks campgrounds that operate on a first come, first served basis TEL: 916-653-6995
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The State Park Campgrounds With Greatest Availability
There is, for example, Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, which is named for the former slave and highest ranking Black officer of his time who established an African American town in Tulare County in 1908.
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, north of Bakersfield, Calif.
Hipcamp Now Shares Real
Big news! You can now use Hipcamp to access real-time campsite availability information for all California State Parks. Whether youre researching campgrounds in NorCals Mount Diablo State Park or Cuyamaca Rancho outside San Diego, simply check out our park pages to see what state park and private campsites are available on various dates. You can take a look at photos, read reviews, and then pick the site that works best for you, either booking a private site directly on Hipcamp or getting directed to ReserveCalifornia to make a state park reservation.
With this first-of-its-kind API integration, were excited to unlock more access to the outdoors and continue advocating for open data standards in public campsite reservation systems. Open data, including our existing inventory of 475,000+ private and public sites, is key to inspiring current and future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.
As the pandemic continues, people are craving a deeper connection to the outdoors and the need to be outside has never been more important, Hipcamp founder and CEO Alyssa Ravasio says. Open data unlocks access to public land to a greater, more diverse group of people and helps Hipcampers avoid overcrowding. This integration comes at a transformative time and were so excited to have California State Parks as a part of the Hipcamp community.
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Key Crystal Cove State Park Campground Regulations
No Free Beach Camping In Northern California
Free beach camping in NorCal is one of those Internet fails that keeps making the rounds, copied by people who don’t take the time to find out the facts. If you see anything about a free beach campground near Orick in Northern California, I can save you some trouble. After talking to a State Park Ranger, I confirmed that there are no free beach campgrounds in the Orick area.
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Santa Barbara And Ventura Counties Beach And Lake Attractions
Visitors to Southern California beaches have so many places to explore and enjoy. Campers at One of the Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds can enjoy many nearby attractions as well as exploring up and down the coast.
- Watch for wildlife at Carpinteria State Beach. Spot whales, seals and sea lions.
- Explore Carpinteria State Beach tidepools for crabs, octopi, sea urchins, starfish, and sea anemones.
- Fish for monster bass at Lake Casitas.
- Enjoy the calm waters of beautiful Cachuma Lake.
- Surf the point at El Capitan Beach, Mondos, or Rincon Point.
- Find excellent pier fishing off the Gaviota Pier.
- Take off hang gliding at Douglas Preserve near Arroyo Burro Beach.
- Spend the afternoon kiteboarding at Leadbetter Beach.
- Watch some exciting beach volleyball at East Beach.
- Kayak the Santa Barbara coast.
- Explore Channel Islands Harbor where you can rent a boat or take a cruise out to the Channel Islands.
- Visit the Flight 261 Memorial Sundial at Hueneme Beach.
Moro Campground At Crystal Cove
Moro Campground in Crystal Cove State Park is located on a hillside overlooking the ocean, about a 10-minute walk from the beach. The state park is spread along 3.2 miles of coast between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. Attractions at the state park include sandy Moro Beach, the historic district of vintage beach homes, and tide pools. Divers find plenty to explore in the waters, including the wreckage of a Corsair F4U.
Of the 57 campsites at Moro Campground, 27 are designated for RVs or trailers. They have water and electric hook-ups. The other 30 campsites are called low impact, which includes tents, soft-sided trailers, and van conversions. Be sure to read camping regulations for Crystal Cove shown below.
|Crystal Cove State Park Campground Basics|
|Location:||8471 N. Coast Highway, south of Corona del Mar|
|Crystal Cove State Park Information:||494-3539|
|Reservations for Crystal Cove State Park Campground|
|Reservations available||up to 6 months in advance of arrival date|
|Maximum Vehicle Length:|
|#12, 14, 25, 30, 45, 49, 58|
|Fees:||Hook-up sites – $75 per night Standard sites – $55|
|or call 444-PARK between 8 AM and 6 PM|
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Beach Camping Near Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is a great place to go beach camping. Besides enjoying the sun and sand, there’s a lot you can do in the area. You can go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, get bewildered at the Mystery Spot, check out these fun things to do in Santa Cruz or just explore other great beaches in the area. To make it even better, Santa Cruz has a couple of the best beach camping spots in the San Francisco Bay Area:
- Seacliff State Beach is a picture-perfect place, guaranteed to generate some photos to share with friends and family. The campground stretches along a sandy beach, backed by vertical bluffs that block the wind. There’s also an abandoned ship just offshore, and you can go fishing from the pier. This popular spot will be booked up months in advance, so start planning your stay ahead of time, using the Seacliff State Beach camping guide.
- Sunset State Beach is – as Goldilocks might say – “just right.” You can set up camp under shady pine trees and be on the beach in just a minute or two. It’s 16 miles south of Santa Cruz. To get all the details, use our handy tips to find out how to snag one of those in-demand campsites, in the Sunset State Beach Camping Guide.
San Elijo State Beach Campground
San Elijo State Beach Campground is a popular beach camping destination along the San Diego County coast, only a few miles north of San Diego. The beach is enjoyed by surfers, snorkelers, divers, and beach combers. Anglers like to cast their lines into the surf here.
The campground is spread along the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean. Stairs lead down to the beach. Campground visitors appreciate the availability of hot showers, a convenient camp store, and fast-food restaurant. Some of the 156 sites are limited to RVs or trailers only.
|San Elijo State Beach Campground Basics|
|Location:||Along Highway 101, near Cardiff-by-the-Sea|
|Pets:||Dogs and some other pets must be kept on leash and always attended.|
|San Elijo State Beach Information:||753-5091|
|Reservations for San Elijo State Beach Campground|
|Reservations available||up to 6 months in advance of arrival date|
|Maximum Vehicle Length:||24 feet for hook-up sites 35 feet for other sites|
|Accessible Sites:||#4A, 26A, 58A, 92A, 143A, 164A|
|Favorite Campsites:||#5, 7, 18, 19, 27, 29, 31, 38, 47, 49, 51, 59, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 151, 165, 167, 168|
|Standard campsites – $35 per nightPremium oceanfront – $50Standard hook-up sites – $60Premimium oceanfront with hook-ups – $75|
|Online Reservations at ReserveCalifornia:||or call 444-PARK between 8 AM and 6 PM|
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San Clemente Tent Camping
There are 88 tent campsites in San Clemente State Beach, which can host up to eight people at one time each. Generally, each of these campsites can fit up to two to three tents.
However, if you’re worried about space, you can call the visitor center and speak with the camp host.
There is a large fence that separates the tent campground from the bluff overlooking the ocean.
As for camping fees, they cover one vehicle and one towed vehicle.
If you have a large group, you can reserve one of the two group campsites.
Group Camp 1 can accommodate up to 20 vehicles and 50 people. The site sits on top of the steep bluff and overlooks the ocean. Group Camp 2 can host ten vehicles and 50 people and is a “tent-camping-only” area. The group campsites have multiple picnic tables and BBQs for large feasts.
Both of these campsites provide beach access with a steep, paved trail. The maximum vehicle length in each of these campsites is 20 feet.
PRO TIP: Campsites 76-94 are the closest to the beach trail.
Beyond tent camping, there is a separate RV and trailer campground with water and electrical hook-ups.
Note that sites 100-160 only take reservations from April to September, so camping is a bit more limited during the winter months.
As for handicap accessibility, site 158 is the one to reserve.
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