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Secret Camping Spots In Southern California

Breathtaking Places For Glamping In Southern California

How we set up our Overlanding Camp site – Our favorite hidden Camp spot in Southern California

Looking for amazing locations for glamping in Southern California? Come on in, we have you covered.

I love camping, as in, I love being out in nature. But I actually dont really love setting up a tent, sleeping on a half inflated air mattress or cooking on a one pot stove or an open flame . Does this sound familiar?

What I like to do instead these days is go glamping, California style. What is glamping you ask? Basically, glamping is the combination of a natural experience of the outdoors with more glamorous amenities . This can be as simple as a canvas tent in nature with a real bed tucked away inside or it can go a few steps further and include things like prepared meals, spa treatments and more. What all glamping experiences seem to have in common however, is a getaway in nature with some comforts of home.

Our family loves being outdoors and experiencing nature in as many ways as we can, but not always roughing it! Here are our top picks for glamping in Southern California with children.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Furnace Creek Campground Death Valley National Park

While camping in a place named Death Valley might not sound too appealing, the stark desert landscape of the largest national park in the contiguous states is far from inhospitable.

The Furnace Creek Campground is one of the most accessible campgrounds in Death Valley, with the park’s most prominent visitor center located nearby. Some of the prettiest spots in Death Valley are near Furnace Creek, including the Golden Canyons and the inspiring Zabriskie Point.

Two other popular campgrounds can also be found in the Furnace Creek area of the park, including the Sunset Campground with 270 sites available. It’s rare for all campsites to fill up in Death Valley National Park.

Most campgrounds in Death Valley National Park, including Furnace Creek and Sunset, have running water and flushing toilets available.

Where To Find Free Camping In California

As a general rule of thumb, finding free camping on the coastor any coast, reallyis difficult. There are exceptions to this rule, but if youre watching your budget, the coast is a tricky place to do it.

Luckily, the interior of California is full of public lands, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, and National Park Service lands, where you can settle in for a week of adventure and relaxation in a beautiful place.

Also Check: Best Places To Go Camping In Michigan

Buttercup Group Campground San Bernardino

Buttercup Group Campground is located at an altitude of 7,000 feet in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest. The location is ideal for nature lovers who want to visit Big Bear Lake or enjoy a variety of other forest activities, including extensive hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. Buttercup Campground enjoys a beautiful shady location and you can get back to nature without sacrificing all your home comforts tables, grills, toilets, and drinking water are provided and there is space for all your friends to join you. The campground is open for the summer season from late April, and you can book your site up to one year in advance.

Buttercup Group Campground, San Bernardino National Forest, San Bernardino, CA 92408-2607, Phone: 909-382-2600

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Sycamore Canyon Campground Point Mugu State Park

11 Of The Best Camping Spots in Southern California

Some of the closest campgrounds to Los Angeles can actually be seen from the city within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Stretching along the coast from Santa Monica to near Oxnard, this vast public space features endless amounts of outdoor recreation and places to spend the night.

With high bluff views of the ocean and a sprawling network of canyon trails to explore, Point Mugu State Park is only one of many great camping spots in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Farther east on the coast and closer to Los Angeles, Leo Carrillo State Park offers over 150 campsites close to the ocean, as well as a large-group campsite that can accommodate up to 50 people. Also near Los Angeles, Malibu Creek State Park offers generous views from its 50-plus campsites.

Overnight guests at any state park in the Santa Monica Mountains have access to flushing toilets and coin-operated showers.

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Paradise By The Sea Beach Rv Resort

Location: 1537 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

Amenities: Pull-through sites, equipment rentals, fire rings, grills, pool, hot tub, store, laundry facilities, shower facilities, restrooms

Activities: Surfing, recreation hall, swimming, basketball, biking, billiards, shuffleboard, ping-pong

Fees: $75$200 per night, depending on RV site

Number of sites: 90

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

The highest-rated RV resort on the entire California coast is none other than Paradise by the Sea Beach RV Resort. Just a few steps away from the beach, the RV resort along with the warm SoCal weather make for the perfect getaway. Family-owned and -operated for over 35 years, the well-maintained facility is a lovely RV park with decent equipment and lots of space to play. The pool area is stocked with plenty of chairs and tables along with a firepit for later in the night. Offering a multitude of coastal activities, this Southern California RV camping spot entices visitors to return regularly with promises of fond memories every time.

Learn more about our selection criteria and vetting process.

Alder Creek Dispersed Campingsequoia National Forest

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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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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Autocamp Is A Super Fun Glamping Location On The California Coast

How to plan the perfect family camping trip in Southern California

Not quite what you might be thinking, no tents necessary here. AutoCamp is a unique type of lodging experience. Instead of car camping with a tent, your home will be a modern, luxuriously outfitted Airstream minutes from downtown Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara location is not a beach campground, or as nature focused as some of the other glamping recommendations, however it is inspired by camping on a great American road trip.

First established in 1922, this camping location was where old world travelers stopped for an overnight while traveling up and down the Pacific Coast Highway. This is a perfect stop for your own modern day family road trip along the PCH. Each Airstream sleeps up to 4 comfortably with prices starting at $200 a night. If you happen to be in Northern California, check out their awesome location on the Russian River.

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Primitive Camps In California

Free camping outside of a developed campground, for a self-contained camper who wants seclusion and privacy. Real relaxation in total peace and quiet. More nature, less people and minimal vehicles.

Free Campsites Dispersed Camps Open Camping Boondocking

primitive camp sitesthe bare minimum. a clearing for a tent, maybe a fire ring. no toilet, no fees dirt road access.

campfire permits required. And it is up to you to know the current fire restrictions in the area you seek to camp overnight.

  • camping gear

Back Roads to Secluded Camps

The further out you are willing to drive, the more remote you can be. Good topo maps of the region help you to find these ultimate, secret camping spots. National Forests& BLM Lands require a free camp fire permit to have a campfire.

Fire safety is always a big concern in wildfire prone areas like California. Additional Permits & Passes may be needed in some forests or parks each location is different. Check with the local ranger station for up to date restrictions.

Many dirt roads lead avid campers to the best out-of-the-way camp sites. Camps may have picnic tables or just a fire ring, but usually NO toilets. Have the No Bathroom Blues? Dont sweat it. check out the page onCamp Potty

A high clearance vehicle may be needed to reach certain camp spots, but many can be accessed with a standard passenger car. Low riders will likely bottom out and motorcycle riders will get dusty.

San Onofre Bluffs Campground

A post shared by Derek Cherry on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:34pm PDT

Why you should camp here: Spot surfers while sunbathing on the shore at this iconic SoCal oceanside campground thats located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Late spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: No, dump station available

Ok, so this campground isnt exactly on the beach. Its a 3.5-mile-long stretch of sites located on a massive, rocky bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean from above. But dont let that deter you. San Onofre Bluffs Campground provides relatively easy beach access via a series of rugged trails cut into the bluff.

It is a perfect place to catch the sunset on any given night, as you can see for what seems to be eternity, said visitor Crystal C. on The Dyrt.

Its an area thats world famous for surfers, and youre sure to spot a few during your stay. Other outdoor activities in the area include biking the old 101 route, birding at Trestles Wetland Natural Preserve, or hiking one of the many inland trails at San Onofre State Beach.

Recommended Reading: State Park Rv Camping Cost

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground Redwoods National And State Parks

In California’s Redwood Country surrounding Highway 101, Jedediah Smith is one of three state parks jointly operated with Redwoods National Park. Less than 10 miles from Crescent City, the campground at Jedediah Smith is popular throughout the year thanks to its proximity to the Wild and Scenic Smith Riveras well numerous groves of very tall trees.

With flushing water and coin-operated showers available, Jedediah Smith State Park has over 80 campsites that accommodate tents and RVs.

A total of four developed campgrounds are in Redwoods National and State Parks. The Gold Bluffs Beach Campground at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park offers tent camping on a secluded coastline, and the Mill Creek Campground at Del Norte Coast features plenty of space to RV camp next to some big trees.

Redwoods National and State Parks also offer backcountry campsites for those wanting some solitude among the redwoods.

Address: 1461 US-199, Crescent City, California

California State Park Campgrounds In Los Angeles

Hidden Valley Campground

California State Park campgrounds are mostly reserved through ReserveCalifornia.com or via phone at 800.444.7275. Most of these campgrounds are very popular they are reservable six months in advance and generally fill up shortly after bookings open. A few select campgrounds are not reservable and therefore usually have last-minute availability . It’s always worth checking on the reservations site as well, though, for last minute cancelations.

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Perfect Spots For Beach Camping In Southern California

Wake up with your feet in the sand.

By:Jamie Fleck+ Save to a List

What comes to mind when people think of Southern California? Gorgeous weather, palm trees, the ocean, and of course, the endless sandy beaches. So what better way to enjoy what the Southern California coast has to offer than to camp on the beach? Starting from the north in Santa Barbara and heading all the way down south to San Diego, here are 7 places to include on your next beach camping adventures.

Photo: Josh CurriePrefer a more secluded campsite? Camping at Gaviota State Park would be right up your alley. Nestled near a small town north of Santa Barbara, this beach offers stunning views of the ocean from the cliffs you can hike up on right by the campground. Learn more.

Photo: Michael WigleWanting to support a National Park and also looking for a more remote beach camping experience? Santa Rosa Island offers both of those endeavors. You can reach Santa Rosa Island by ferry or charter plane. Making the trek to camp at Santa Rosa Island will definitely be worth the while, providing you a camping experience that most others wouldnt get to savor. Learn more.

Photo: Nina PhamImagine hearing the lull of the ocean waves as you fall asleep right on the sand, all in your own serene campsite. You will get to experience just that while camping at Thornhill Broome State Beach. The beautiful city of Malibu is also just minutes away. Learn more.

Photo: Grant Nyquist

Morro Strand State Beach

Located less than five miles away from Morro Bay State Park, Morro Strand is a beach park on the bay. Both parks offer views of the water and Morro Rock. Morro Strand Beach is less developed.

You will find RV sites with electricity, water, and sewer for $50. Tent sites without hook-ups are $35. RV limit is 40 feet for RV sites and 24 feet for tent sites.

Located off the Pacific Coast Highway at the exit for Yerba Buena.

Elephant Seals near San Simeon

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Best Free Camping Incalifornia

By Sara Sheehy

With its 840 miles of coastline, beautiful mountains, and fun cities, California is at the top of many peoples adventure lists. From the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Joshua Tree National Park, California is filled with beautiful destinations, sunny days, and plenty of those Beach Boys vibes.

California has an ample amount of dispersed camping if you know where to look. Here is where youll find the best no-cost camping in the Golden State.

See the California free camping map.

Shady Cove Group Campground San Bernardino National Forest

11 Best Places to Go Camping in California – Tactical Gears Lab

Shady Cove Group Campground is the ideal place to escape to with up to 30 of your buddies for a great outdoor bonding experience. The campground is open from mid-May to early October each year and can accommodate three groups of campers. The facilities are somewhat basic and include pit toilets, drinking water, fire rings, and picnic tables and the sites are only suitable for tents. The campground provides easy access to several trails, including the interpretive Trail of Phoenix, and hiking, biking, and birding are the most popular activities. If you enjoy fishing, you can catch your dinner at the trout-stocked Arrowbear Lake, which is less than 5 miles from the campground.

Shady Cove Group Campground, Keller Peak Rd, Big Bear, CA 92314, Phone: 909-382-2790

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Mendocino National Forest Off

Everything you need to elevate your California off-road camping experience is found in Mendocino National Forest. Dirt roads, hiking trails, lakes, equestrian trails, creeks, forests, wildlifeyou name it, Mendocino has it.

The southern end of the Grindstone Ranger District has some of the most challenging OHV routes in the state. Fouts Springs offers amazing camping facilities for off-roaders. Do we hear an off-road camping getaway in the making?

Oak Knoll Campground New Hogan Lake

The Oak Knoll campground is picturesquely located on a hillside overlooking New Hogan Lake in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The facility offers 49 spacious primitive campsites, most of which can accommodate your RV or camping trailer. You can do as much or as little as you like at Oak Knoll, such as relaxing with a book or enjoy boating, fishing, and skiing on the lake campers may make use of the free on-site boat launching area. After a busy day of hiking, biking, or horse riding you can look forward to cleaning up at the coin-operated showers. The east campsite has a picnic table, a fire ring with grill, and a lantern post.

Oak Knoll Campground, 2321 S Petersburg Rd, Valley Springs, CA 95252, Phone: 209-772-1343

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