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First Come First Serve Camping Southern California

South Carlsbad State Beach

El Capitan State Park, Southern California ~ A RV Campground Fav!

South Carlsbad State Beach is between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean. There are a little over 200 campsites here, with half of them listed as premium sites with ocean views. There are several sets of stairs leading down to the beach, but they are relatively steep. Every location has a picnic table and a fire ring. There is a hedge on one side of the site that offers some privacy. However, the spaces are close together. The beach here is quite rocky, with very little sand to play on. Reservations 7201 Carlsbad Blvd. Carlsbad, CA 92008

Blair Valley Campgroundnear Joshua Tree National Park

Both primitive and tucked away, with incredible views of the night sky, Blair Valley Campground acts as an ideal stopping point when visiting Joshua Tree National Park. The area is expansive so you dont have to worry about camping feet away from someone else, but dont venture too far in if you have a heavy rig or low clearance, as the roads can become sandy to the point of impassable.

Climbers can find sandstone routes nearby, while hikers and mountain bikers will be delighted by the number of trails. Theres very little shade, so pack a canopy or tarp to create some for yourself. Bring enough water to sustain your visit and pack out anything you packed in.

Is Camping Still Allowed In California

Since the lifting of the Regional Stay at Home Order in January 2021, State Parks has reopened almost all campground sites, day-use public outdoor areas, and indoor facilities such as visitor centers and museums. A few units and group campsites remain closed due to COVID-19, wildfire impacts or other issues.

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Faria Beach Park Ventura County

Faria is another small beach campground run by the county of Ventura. Situated a few miles south of Hobson Beach, Faria Beach Park features 38 campsites. Number 7 34 are directly on the ocean with unobstructed views of the Pacific. All campsites are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis only.

No reservations accepted. It can be very challenging to get a spot here, especially during the summer and holiday weekends. There is a small cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. 4350 Old Rincon Hwy Ventura, CA 93001. Website.

Best Desert Campgrounds In Southern California

11 Of The Best Camping Spots in Southern California

Camping in the desert is not for all, but for those that love the dramatic landscapes filled with craggy rocks and unique plant life will enjoy these amazing desert campgrounds in Southern California.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is one of favorite destinations for day trips and overnight excursions. While we often rent an Airbnb or stay in Palm Springs, there are some great camping options in Joshua Tree National Park that are worth getting out for. These sites fill up fast either through reservations or first come first serve.

We recommend heading out on the weekdays if possible to avoid the crowds and have the best chance of securing a great spot. The best time to camp in Joshua Tree is spring and Fall when it is not too hot and not too cold at night. Our recommended spots in Joshua Tree are Indian Cove and Jumbo Rocks. When reservations are an option, they can be made at

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert is located in the eastern part of northern San Diego County. Known for wildflowers and birding, it also has plenty of options for tent camping. There are developed campgrounds like Borrego Palm Campground, Tamarisk Grove and Bow Willow. Our favorite is Borrego Palm Canyon which has interpretive trails, panoramic overlooks, and native fan palms.

There are also primitive campgrounds that are first-come, first-serve and are free. Spring is the best time to visit as the weather is nice and the flowers are blooming.

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Manzanita Campground Angeles National Forest

Looking for a mountain view as you enjoy the great outdoors? Manzanita Campground located in the Los Angeles National Forest provides ample space for each campsite while also giving you the calming view of the mountains.

Located at 5,300 ft elevation this campsite provides two loops of campgrounds, Little Pines and Manzanita.

Each loop offers 40+ campsites so if you are going on a busy weekend and are concerned about finding space this is your best chance.

Campsite reservations are on a first come first serve basis. The wildlife is very active in this part of Southern California, so please be sure to place food in proper receptacles.

Manzanita Campground is great for first-time campers. You will be surrounded by other campers in case of an emergency. Plus it only costs $12/night.

During my first-time tent camping in Southern California, we could not set up a tent. Someone from a nearby tent graciously offered to help us put the tent up.

It is a bit crowded. Once you have some more experience camping, it may be better to head to a more secluded campground. One with more privacy.

Camping In California: Los Alamos Campground Pyramid Lake

The close proximity of Los Alamos Campground to the city of Los Angeles makes this a popular weekend escape for city dwellers. There are 90 individual family campsites dotted around the hillside above Pyramid Lake as well as three group campsites that can accommodate up to 30 people. Although there is no electrical hook-up for your RV, the campground does offer the usual picnic tables and grills as well as clean toilets and running water. Pyramid Lake is exceptionally good for fishing and a fish-cleaning area is provided. You can enjoy birdwatching, rent a boat , go kayaking or jet-skiing, or go for a hike or cycle along various trials.

Los Alamos Campground, Hard Luck Rd, Lebec, CA 93243, Phone: 661-248-6725

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Tent Camping In Southern California Best Campgrounds

Although Southern California is known for its beaches, there are some great campgrounds just hours away from some of the largest cities in the U.S. Some of the best campgrounds I have ever been to have been tent camping in Southern California.

As you move further away from the coast, there are all different kinds of campgrounds. Within 1 to 2 hours of Los Angeles or San Diego, you can find beach camping, mountain camping, forest camping, and desert camping campsites.

There is a common joke among people who grew up in SoCal. You can have breakfast on the beach, lunch in the mountains and dinner in the desert.

Here are the best places to go tent camping in Southern California

Rincon Parkway Ventura County

Southern California Wilderness Camping | San Gorgonio Campground- Jenks Lake

You cant get any closer to the beach than at Ventura Countys Rincon Parkway. Situated on the old Pacific Coast Highway, campsites have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. No reservations are needed. Just drive up and down until you find an open spot. Every site has a fantastic view, so it doesnt matter where you park. Tent camping is not allowed here, and there is no day-use parking. 4668 Pacific Coast Hwy, Ventura, CA 93001. website.

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Go Camping This Weekend: Last Minute Campgrounds Near La

Wouldn’t it be great if you could go camping this weekend? Well, guess whatyou can! Just because you didn’t plan your camping trip months in advance doesn’t mean your tent has to stay in the bag. Pitch that tent tomorrow at one of these SoCal campgrounds that accommodate last minute campers , and then break out the marshmallows. And if you think your kids need a little more incentive to embrace disconnecting for a weekend, check out these SoCal campgrounds with extra entertainment.

Leo Carrillo State Park

Stretching just a mile and a half along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, Leo Carrillo State Park is a perfect destination for day use or an overnight camping trip. Leo Carrillos campground is inland from the beach in a canyon lined with giant sycamores. There are 135 campsites, including several group sites. Beach access is through a tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway. 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California.

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Lewis Mountain Campground Shenandoah National Park

Image from The Dyrt camper Danielle V.

The only 100% first-come, first-served campground in Shenandoah National Park is Lewis Mountain Campground at mile 57.5 of Skyline Drive. Its also the smallest campground in the park, set in a beautiful woodsy area near some of the parks best hikes and overlooks.

This campground also has several cabins, which can be reserved. There is a small store, restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, and water fountains. Remember that hundreds of black bears live in Shenandoah National Park, so proper food storage is not only advised but mandatory.

This is the best campground in the park! The spots are secluded, there are bathrooms that are in good shape, and its super close to some awesome hikes and great sunset lookouts. We loved being able to hang our hammocks and watch the wildlife roam around. Our dogs were welcomed and we felt right at home. One of my favorite NPs and definitely my favorite camp spot in the park! The Dyrt Camper Molly G.

Alder Creek Dispersed Campingsequoia National Forest

No Reservation: The Best Last Minute Camping in Northern ...

Image from The Dyrt camper Raul P.

If you want to stay in Sequoia National Forest and arent interested in the OHV area, check out Alder Creek Dispersed Camping, a heavily-wooded campground with vault toilets and a creek nearby.

Campground usage is also light and operates on a first come, first served basis but bewareduring summer days when the heat rises, the area becomes dry and heavy fire restrictions are enforced. Check the USFS website before you go to assess your likelihood of marshmallow roasting.

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Are There Any First Come First Serve Campsites In California

Some of the most beautiful camping spots are on a first-come-first-served basis because they tend to be more remote and with primitive campsites. Camping in California without reservations is possible if campers arrive early for designated campsites or are willing to hike or bike in to their environmental or dispersed campsite.

Death Valley National Park

Campsite fees: Free-$36The great thing about driving five hours to the hottest spot in the western hemisphere is that, chances are, you will get a campsite. Note that some areas are closed during part of the year, so check the website before heading out. The only campgrounds open in the summer of 2021 are Mesquite Springs, Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike, and Mahogany Flat. The uber-desert park has plenty to fascinate kids , and campgrounds that are first come, first served most of the year .

S’mores are the best thing about camping! Photo by US Dep’t of Agriculture via flickr

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Can I Go Camping In California Right Now

All campgrounds that reopened today are now at full capacity. Developed campsites in the Angeles National Forest are closed this weekend, but back country campsites are open for hikers. State park campgrounds across California remain closed, but check webpages for updates, as things are changing frequently.

Bolsa Chica State Beach Rv Camping

Fossil Falls Campground Highway 395

Bolsa Chica State Beach is between Huntington Beach and Seal Beach. Beach camping at Bolsa Chica is limited to recreational vehicles only. Be sure to bring along your bicycles when camping at Bolsa Chica. The beach trail runs south to Newport Beach and north to Long Beach. 17851 Pacific Coast Hwy. Huntington Beach, California.

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First Come First Serve Camping And Must Know

My family and I are planning a camping trip in the sequoia and kings national park in the last week of march going into April.

What will the temperature be like? Where is a good place to camp where we can see everything? if we are driving from san Francisco and plan on arriving the are around 7-8am what are the chances of getting a good campsite thats on a first come first serve basis? When do people usually try to come and reserve a spot when on a first come first serve basis?

Here is a direct link to the Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP forum. I suggest that you repost on that forum.

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Auburn State Recreation Area

Image from The Dyrt camper Jim N.

Northern Californias Gold Country, also known as Mother Lode Country, is an under-appreciated region loaded with some of the best camping in northern California. Located on the Western slope of the Sierras in Northern California, the region has plenty of historic mines and towns, as well as lots of hiking in the Sierra foothills and swimming, rafting or boating along rivers. One of the best ways to experience the region is at the Auburn State Recreation Area, which offers campers a bit of everything.

It is south of Interstate 80, near the towns of Auburn and Colfax. The park covers 40 miles of the North and Middle Forks of the American River. Gold panning is allowed, though you should read up on regulations if you want to test your luck. The recreation area offers a number of campgrounds with varying levels of access. If youre a paddle-in pro, theres a boat-in campground on Lake Clementine, reservations are however required.

Mineral Bar has 16 first-come, first-served campsites along the east side of North Fork American River. There is no running water, but there are tables, fire pits and dry toilets. Ruck-a-Chucky has 5 primitive first-come, first-served campsites on the north side of the river. There are trash cans and toilets, but no running water.

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Joshua Tree National Park

Campsite fees: $15 Joshua Tree offers a surprising variety of desert terrain and is just over a two-hour drive from LA. The park has three campgrounds that are first-come, first-served, while others take reservations via . In hotter weather, one of the cooler, higher altitude, drive-up campgrounds might be more comfortable, in spite of the pit toilets. Note: When you arrive and find an open first-come, first-serve campground simply self-register and pay at the kiosk. The fee is $15 per night by cash or check only.

The Best Places For Beach Camping In California

Pine Springs Campground, TX


  • Shipman Creek Campsite. Location: The Lost Coast Trail, Humboldt County. Type: Hike-in tent camping. If youre looking for true adventure, backpack Northern Californias aptly named Lost Coast Trail, which cuts through one of the wildest sections of the states coastline.
  • Mendocino Grove. Location: Mendocino. Type: Drive-in glamping. If roughing it along the North Coast is not your cup of tea, book a spot at Mendocino Grove.
  • Coast Camp. Location: Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County. Type: Hike-in tent camping. Located an hour north of San Francisco in the Bay Areas very own national park, Point Reyes National Seashore, Coast Camp is the perfect place to try backpacking.
  • Marshall Beach. Location: Tomales Bay, Marin County. Type: Boat-in tent camping. The more nautically minded might want to try a boat-in campsite on the north end of Tomales Bay State Park, which neighbors the Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • Steep Ravine Campground and Cabins. Location: Near Stinson Beach, Marin County. Type: Drive-in tent camping or basic cabins. There are cabins at Steep Ravine, but this isnt a glamping experience.
  • Treebones Resort. Location: Big Sur, Monterey County. Type: Drive-in glamping. Big Sur has some of Californias most-photographed coastline and some of the states most-beloved coastal camping.

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Can I Go Camping In California

Free camping in California can generally be found on BLM and USFS property, and some of the best sites are found by taking a random turn down a dirt road with a cattle guard and driving until you find a pull-out. They also cordon off national parks from national forests and differentiate between 4WD and paved roads.

Can You Sleep In Your Car In Big Sur

Hwy 1 through Big Sur is a remote area, so the highway patrol can only monitor the road so much its not like they can just pass by various sections on their way to somewhere else. So, yes, it is possible to sleep in your car and not get caught. If you are caught, at the very least you will be told to move along.

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Choosing A Campground In Southern California

When choosing a campground, consider the type of camping experience you are looking to achieve. Consider the kinds of people you are going with.

For example, if you are going with your kids, you may want to choose a more active campsite like Lake Hemit rather than a very secluded one.

If you are going with your partner or close friends for some quiet meditation, it might be better to go to a campground like Live Oak.

Think about what the perfect camping experience would look like, then reverse engineer the campground that would provide that experience. It will be a trial and error process until you find your go-to campground.

I have been tent camping at 30 different campsites in Southern California before I found the perfect one for each type of camping trip.

Safe camping.

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