With 8 National Parks and 110 State Parks, there is no shortage of good places to go camping in California. So what are the best you ask? That depends on what you’re looking for in a campsite.
From lush meadows to deserts, strange rock formations, soaring volcanic peaks, and sandy beaches, there are plenty of campgrounds to visit and make lasting memories. Whether you are a local or a visitor looking for an unforgettable adventure, California offers some of the most diverse landscapes in the US.
7. Wright’s Beach Campground
Some of the best Beach camping can be found in Sonoma Coast State Park. With the Craggy coastline, long sandy beaches, and secluded coves, to the constant sound of the crashing waves and cool ocean breezes. Wright’s Beach Campground has some of the most scenic campsites in California.
Hikers will enjoy Russian Gulch, Bodega Head, and Horseshoe Cove Overlook Trail as well as the Kortum Trail from Wright’s Beach to Shell Beach. If surfing is your thing, Sonoma Coast has a few spots like Salmon Creek and Secrets. For fishing, the ocean, bay, and river frontage of the Sonoma County coast is an angler’s paradise. Some of the sportfishing species include rockfish, perch, salmon, steelhead, and smelt, as well as mussels, cockles, and red abalone.
Wright’s Beach has 27 Tent and RV Campsites adjacent to the beach, and each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and paved parking spur. There is no group camping, and max occupancy is eight people and two vehicles per campsite.
For RV campers, there is a fill station and dump station located at Bodegas Dunes 5 miles south. Max trailer length is 27 feet, and hook-ups are not available.
Best Campsites are 1 through 10 as those are beachfront sites
GPS: 38.4002, -123.0951
6. Fairview Campgrounds
Set in the Sequoia National Forest, this scenic campsite is populated with oak and gray pine along the Upper Kern River, 13 miles north of Kernville. The campground is surrounded by hillside with views of snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Popular activities include swimming, mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. Fishing is prevalent due to the golden trout in the area, which is sought after for catch and release by fly fishermen.
Fairview campground has 48 tent and RV campsites, drinking water, and vault toilets. Also, each campsite has paved parking, fire rings, and picnic tables.
Max RV length is 45 feet, and there are no hookups or dump stations at this campground.
GPS: 35.9287, -118.4908
Favorite Campsites include 9, 13, 14, 15, and 18.
5. Lodgepole Campground
Located in the breathtaking Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, This woodland campground is the perfect place to escape, a place to connect with nature and family.
Red fir and shrubs forest the area while towering groves of giant sequoias and granite peaks dot the landscape. Running through the campground is the Marble fork of the Kaweah River, and several tent camping sites are located along the river.
Several trails originate in the campground for those that want to hike. Including Tokopah Falls Trail (3.4 miles round trip), which leads to a 1200 ft. waterfall, Twin Lakes Trail, and Big Trees Trail, which invites visitors to immerse in the majesty of the ancient grove. Anglers will enjoy fly-fishing for Rainbow and Brown Trout on the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River.
With 214 campsites, your sure to find the perfect spot to pitch your Tent. Lodgepole Campground has paved roads, Flush toilets, and drinking water. Also, each campsite has a fire ring, picnic table, and a food storage locker. There is a six-person maximum per campsite.
For RVs, there are no hookups, but there is an RV dump station located on-site. Some campsites can accommodate RVs with a length of 42 feet.
Popular campsites are 11, 17, 27, 168, 173, to name a few.
GPS: 36.6049, -118.7284
4. Kirk Creek Campground
Beach camping at its finest, Kirk Creek Campground overlooks the Pacific Ocean, offering a fantastic view of the Big Sur Coastline. Each campsite is spacious, open, and grassy, with views of the ocean and surrounding countryside.
Combined with spectacular sunrises and sunsets, this puts Kirk Creek on our list as one of the best beach camping sites in Northern California.
There’s a variety of opportunities for relaxation and recreation, including several scenic trails leading into the Los Padres National Forest, as well as Vicente Flats Trailhead leading into Ventana Wilderness. Sand Dollar Beach offers surfing, swimming, and fishing, where anglers can expect to catch yellow perch and other coastal surf fish.
This beach campground has 33 campsites, offering fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. Each site has a parking pad, pedestal BBQ, fire rings, and picnic tables. Also, there are vault toilets and paved roads, but no drinking water, so remember to bring plenty! The limit is two vehicles and eight people per campsite.
For RVs, Utility hookups are not available, and there is not an RV dump station. Parking surfaces within the campground are grass and gravel. Some campsites allow RVs up to 48 feet in length.
Best campsites include 8 through 22 because they’re closest to the ocean and furthest from highway 1.
GPS: 35.9899, -121.4952
3. Jedediah Smith Campground
The best camping in Northern California can be found at this campground, set in the Redwood National Park. The park is densely forested with huge ancient trees; in fact, seven percent of all the old-growth redwoods left in the world are located here.
From the tall redwoods to the lush forest surrounding the campsites, there is a sense of wonder, age, and majestic beauty that can only be found while camping in Jedediah Smith Campground.
The campgrounds are located next to the smith river so that you can fish, snorkel, or kayak, the longest major free-flowing river in California. There are also 20 miles of trails, and with temperatures ranging from 45 – 85 degrees in the summer to 30 – 60 degrees in the winter, you can find the ideal time to hike year-round.
This stunning campground has 106 campsites, and each has a BBQ grill, picnic table, food storage locker, and a fire ring. This campground has flush toilets, showers, drinking water, and visitor center.
Max RV length is 25 feet, RV dump station on-site, but no utility hookups. Parking is paved, and campsites can accommodate RVs up to 25 feet in length, and trailers must be 21 feet or shorter in length. There are no pull-through campsites available for RVs or trailers throughout the campground.
Some of the best campsites include campsite 9, 21, 53, 57, and 79.
GPS: 41.7982, -124.0842
2. Upper Pines Campground
A list like the best places to camp in California, would not be complete without a campsite like this one located in Yosemite. Situated in the heart of Yosemite Valley, you will get grande views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. With waterfalls, deep valleys, sheer granite cliffs, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, and much more to enjoy.
There are over 12 miles of paved bike paths available in Yosemite Valley. However, for those who what a little more lively ride, try one of the guided mule or horse tours. Hikers will enjoy Glacier Point Road, Wawona and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, White Wolf, and Tuolumne Meadows. Other activities include boating, fishing, and world-renowned rock climbing.
Reservable campsites are available in advance on the 15th of each month. Upper pines campground offers parking spurs and paved roads, flush toilets, and drinking water. Also, each campsite has a fire ring, food storage locker, and picnic table. These camping sites are near the historic curry village, which offers a general store, showers, restaurant, and bar.
For RVs, there are no utility hookups, but there is a free RV dump station on site. The campsites have paved parking, and some campsites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet and trailers up to 25 feet.
If you’re looking for some of the best campsites, they are 9, 21, 99, 137, 182, 211, and 240.
GPS: 37.737, -119.5641
1. Jumbo Rocks Campground
Set in the Joshua Tree National Park, this campground is surrounded by towering rocks. The beauty of this camping site is rugged, raw, and powerful, with vast open landscapes and sky. However, these camping sites are nestled among the rock formations, making a beautiful backdrop for the dancing flames of your campfire by night.
There are a lot of activities in the area, mountain biking, rock climbing, and archeological sites to explore. Also, there are trails to hike like the 0.8 mile Jumbo Rocks Loop or the famous Skull Rock Trail.
This is a large campground with 124 tent and RV campsites. There are vault toilets but no drinking water in the campground, however, there is a town 12 miles out that provides basic amenities. Each site has a six-person and two-vehicle limit.
There are no hookups on-site, and there are no RV dump stations nearby. Some campsites can accommodate RV up to 35 feet or a combined truck/travel trailer length of 35 feet.
Most popular campsites include 45, 60, 79 and 121.
GPS: 33.9918, -116.068