Great Overlooks for Camping
Best View Camp Site in California
Overlook Camps, View Spot Camp Sites
This list is comprised of primitive camp sites and developed campgrounds with views overlooking a large area (valley, town, canyon, desert, river, ocean). Many ideal spots may require dirt road driving, and a few might need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to reach.
Prewitt Ridge, Big Sur Coast
This is by far the best, free coastal camping on the Central Coastline of Big Sur. Dirt roads traverse 10 miles out to vacant ridges overlooking the Pacific, with steep hills down to the highway. Camp above the fog layer and above the crowds. Explore the beaches during the day, and camp above the traffic & crowds at night.
Dry brush is abundant on the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Camp fire restrictions should be of utmost concern in this area, since wildfires burn here often. Camp fire permits are required for camping on the back roads, and much of the time camp fires are banned in this region. Call ahead to the rangers to find out the current conditions.
Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Big Sur Coastline
Two prime walk-in camp sites, on a shady point, high above a beach cove w/ scenic waterfall.
Called “environmental camps” these highly desirable spots need advanced reservations w/ fees many months in advance. Tables, fire rings and a vault toilet. Bare bones basics, but the ideal location is worth it. A forested cliff on the edge of the ocean, high above a secluded cove. This location a can get windy if a storm moves in (generally October – March).
Kirk Creek Campground
on Highway 1 @ Nacimiento Rd
Big Sur CA
- Valle Vista Campground
- Camp-O-Alto Campground (few spots w/ view)
- Mount Abel (Cerro Noroeste)
- Marion Campground
- San Emigdio
Above Santa Maria, Highway 166
West of New Cuyama, CA
- Miranda Pines Campground @ 4100′ elev
Located well off hwy. on Road #32S13
There are several primitive campsites off of M10 with views of chaparral and canyons. Just above Stonyford, CA, on the way up to Fouts Springs. Unfortunately Mendocino National Forest is closed for 2018 due to Ranch Fire (wildfire) w/ Snow Mountain Wilderness completely 100% burnt.
Angeles National Forest
- Mount Pacifico Campground
Angeles Forest Highway
- Lightning Point Group Campground
near Jackson Lake @ Hwy 2
San Bernardino National Forest
- San Berdu has more than a few trail camps for 4×4 enthusiasts. Weekends can be busy all year long. Snow usually closes some routes. Pine forest in southern California means very tight campfire restrictions. All yellow post camp sites include table and a fire ring. Campfire permits are required.
- East ridge line, rocky, dusty, 4WD-only route, the John Bull Trail (near Holcomb Valley) has ONE real awesome view camp spot with great spans over the Mojave desert w/ smog and city lights @ night.
- Mesa Campground @ Silverwood Lake SRA
I-8 East of San Diego, CA
- Larkin Campground
McCain Valley BLM OHV
- Mar Tar Awa above Viejas Casino
- Sweetwater Summit Co Park San Diego
I-5 North of San Diego, CA
- San Elijo Campground, San Elijo State Beach
Coastal cliffs, overlooking beach and ocean
Solana Beach, CA
S-22 East San Diego County
Montezuma Grade, overlooking Borrego Springs & Anza Borrego Desert
- Culp Valley – boulders, primitive camps on dirt roads; better views off-road. Vault toilet. Few tables, no signs. Small campground at the highway is easy to find. Boulders and bouldering. Mountain biking and hiking. Wildflowers in spring.
I-40 Mojave Desert
- Providence Mountains SRA @ Mitchell Cavern. Campground is perched on rocky hill overlooking desert.
- Boulder Outcroppings w/ primitive camp spots, tucked back on one lane dirt roads, behind Mid Hills Campground. Mojave National Preserve
US Hwy 395 Eastern Sierra
inside Death Valley National Park
- Mahogany Flat Campground steep dirt road access. Trailhead for tallest peak in the park, Telescope Peak (11,049′ elev)
- Tucki Mine, 4×4 route. Unmarked dirt road inside Emigrant Canyon, off Wildrose Road.
inside Inyo National Forest
- Coyote Flat @ Pinyon Boulders – 4×4 required, one primitive camp w/ great views overlooking the Owens Valley & peaks to the east.
- Onion Valley Campground – High Sierra @ 9200′ elevation. Trailhead to Kearsarge Pass. W of Independence, CA
Western Sierra Nevada Mts
Sierra National Forest
- White Bark Trailhead @ Kaiser Pass,
primitive camp site, pictured above. 4WD required @ Dusy Ershim Trail (OHV route). NE of Huntington Lake, CA
- White Bark Trailhead @ Kaiser Pass,
see also – NFS Fire Lookouts & Rental Cabins
many of which have excellent views of the wilderness areas; a hike or climb may be necessary
Colorado River Camping
Multiple riverside RV havens near Parker, AZ
Riverside RV parks in Blythe, CA
Riverside RV parks in Lake Havasu, CA