San Diego Beach Camping

Seagulls at Cardiff

San Diego Coastal Campgrounds
Mission Bay & North County
SD Beach RV Parks & Camping

RV camps camp

San Diego’s mild climate means camping is available all year round. From north county where the coastal cliffs overlook the ocean, to downtown bay side marinas w/ RV camping, to camping right on the sand w/ ocean crashing just feet away. Bike paths are common around downtown San Diego, so you can bring your bike or skates.

San Diego has 2 BAYS, both located along Interstate 5: The main bay downtown is called San Diego Bay (one of the deepest on the west coast) and the other a few miles north, is named Mission Bay (a man-made coastal waterway w/ green parks and paved bike trails).

Reservations are required at almost ALL coastal campgrounds, especially around holidays, any 3 day weekends, and all summer long. Tons of tourists flock to Southern California and this is a very popular coastline – with busy little cities and crowded beach towns. Beware: if you are seeking secluded camping – this would not be the place.

Best Beaches

listed from south to north

Carlsbad Cliffs

There are numerous private RV resorts, some quite large, like KOA and GoodSam parks located in and around San Diego county. Most are metro-close and not located on the beach. This list is primarily coastal camping options for the San Diego region.

camping SoCal

see also
San Diego Campground Camping

see a list of all
San Diego cities & towns

baybridge

San Diego Camping

Horse Meadow Campground

Kern Meadows Camping

Horse Meadow Campground

Salmon Creek, Kern Plateau –
Sequoia National Forest

horse camping National Forest Camps Mountain Biking Kern Hikes fish Trailer access camping
Looking to stay away from the masses camping at the Kern River?

Horse Meadow Campground can be found on the east side of the Kern River, up on the Kern Plateau. Up the infamous, steep and rugged Shermans Pass Road. How exciting!

Steep Grades

Climb the hill slowly and cautiously, no guardrails. Up the grade, Shermans eastbound – out of the dryness of the Kern canyon. Find Cherry Hill Road, that is also the Big Meadow turn off: Forest Road# 22S12, a long, narrow dirt road leads from paved Shermans Pass Road, 10 miles out to this ideal campground. Far enough off the main road, so you won’t see much of a crowd out here.

22s05 sherman pass

Hunters, horse campers and hikers really like this spot. Mountain bikers are known to frequent the region as well. Forest, meadows, trails, creeks, nature, all around. Dome Land Wilderness is close by; Waterfalls hikes, swimming holes, viewpoints. Fishing, hunting, horseback trails. Dirt roads and single track trails all over – all within the vicinity of Big Meadow.

Kern Meadows Camping

From the main Rd #22S12, the camp access road #23S08 will lead out to the NFS Campground – HORSE MEADOW. Located at higher elevation forests – 3000′ feet higher than the Kern River!

Nice forested, high country camp spots in a developed campground. The long, access road is worth it for all the scenery and seclusion. Vault toilets, piped water, maybe a small fee. Open summer into autumn, closes for winter months.

Horse Meadow Campground

• Elevation: 7600′
• Number of Sites: 41
• Vehicle Access: RV 23′ max
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – November
• Trailheads: Salmon Creek

33e36trailhead
Developed Campground @ Salmon Creek Trail #33E36. Hiking trailheads lead off to various destinations like, Salmon Creek Falls, Big Meadow, Cannel Meadows and Dome Lands.

Sequoia Kern Map

Sunny Campsite

SUMMERTIME: If you are coming in from Kennedy Meadows on the EAST (or the Mojave desert US 395) – first verify that the Sherman Pass is OPEN for through traffic. Ask road conditions with local rangers ahead of time. ANY amount of snow will close this whole paved route for the winter season, up until June sometimes.

Over 30 miles (one way) to the nearest general store for supplies. Pack ‘block ice’ in the cooler, instead of cubes.

nearby towns:
Fairview
Kennedy Meadows
Kernville
Lake Isabella
Mojave

Big Meadow is closeby. Check it out!

Big Meadow Kern

What is Camping?

Old Timers Berry Creek

Basically, what is Camping?

4x4 camping RV camping car camping primitive camping backpacking cabin camping

BLM camping State Park camping National Forest campgrounds National Park camping

An overnight stay out-of-doors.
Sleeping out under the stars.

Air bed, cot, tent… or just a tarp on the ground.
Perhaps A Mountain Cabin Rental. Your choice.

From a luxurious cabin in the mountains, to a small clearing in near a meadow with a stream nearby – with just a backpack, the idea of “camping” is always a bit different for each person. Roughin’ it for free in the wilderness, or on the backroads; Or pay dearly for the price of real amenities, while on vacation.

Camping Out on Back Roads

Various types of Camping in California:

type of
camping
average
cost per nite
brief description – what to expect
modern cabin $150 – $400 just like a hotel room, full kitchen, phone, internet, TV, real furniture
rustic cabin $60 – $180 bare minimum, beds, kitchen sink, electricity. maybe a bathroom
tent cabins / yurts $50-100 wood floors, canvas walls, sleeping cots. reservations accepted. (very popular)
RV/motorhome rental or own all creature comforts on wheels, lots of luxury. camp the back roads.
camper shell own it mini motorhome on the back end of a pickup truck. smaller than RV
RV campground $30- $70 50+ sites, lots of facilities & families w/ RVs. reservations accepted
developed campground $25-50 usually 30 – 100 sites, paved stalls, facilities. toilets, piped water maybe. plenty in our camping section. (very popular)
small campground $10-25 less than 25 camp sites, pit/vault toilets if any. plenty in our camping section
primitive car camping free way-out-there camp spots w/ dispersed camp sites, for the rugged self-contained, self-sufficient camper; access via dirt back roads.
SUV/ 4×4 camping usually free remote spots on long, steep, bumpy dirt roads; dispersed camp sites in secluded areas. 4 wheel drive may be needed
walk-in campsites low cost or free camp sites that require you to physically haul your camp gear from a parking area to the camp spots, ranging from 1/8 mi. walk to a 1 mile hike
backpacking free / wilderness permit ultimate in seclusion, bring it all on your back, on foot into the wilderness & enjoy trail camps
River Beach Campground

Trinity River Camping, Douglas City, CA

yellowpost

SO CAL CAMP FIRES – Yellow Post Campsites are remote camping spots in secluded areas, in a designated fire safe clearing. Camp FiresNo facilities such as toilets or showers. Maybe a picnic table & fire rings, if you’re lucky. Southern California forest have these kinda spots & do require you to have a campfire permit & double check on fire restrictions.

Tent Cabin Rentals

Canvas Tent Cabins & Yurts

these are half way between roughing it in a tent on the ground & having a mountain cabin. Yurt rentals are very popular in California!

National Forest Service Rangers wildlife

Deck w/ View

National Forest Fire Lookouts
& Historic Cabins

deluxe-tent-cabin

Tent Camp Yosemite Valley

Camping California Back Roads

Monterey Campgrounds

Monterey Bay Campgrounds

Monterey Beach Camping

The Monterey Bay of California is located south of the San Francisco peninsula, and north of the rugged Big Sur Central Coast. This is a popular region for tourism, coastal villages w/ shops and restaurants, parks and beaches, farms and farm stands.  With Santa Cruz mountains and redwoods as the backdrop, this coastline is also highly residential.

Camping along this coast is limited mostly to State Parks and few private RV park campgrounds. No primitive beach camping is allowed on State Beaches, no hike-in camp sites, no hidden cove tent sites, nor secret dirt roads with views over the Pacific. This is a very developed beach and bay, with the 4-lane freeway, main artery US Highway 101, bordering the entire shore.

If you are looking for free and a more rugged, scenic camp – head south to the Big Sur Coast, to find a dirt road camp on the ridge. The sweetest ocean view hike-in camp sites can be found to the north, in the Marin Headlands of Point Reyes, which can be found under Marin Camping.

blue links lead to State Park pages w/ camp reservations.camp

Monterey Area Campgrounds

(listed from south to north)

Monterey Pines RV Campground (Navy)

Monterey County Fairgrounds RV Park

Marina Dunes RV Park

Sunset State Beach State Parks
South Campground

Manresa State Beach State Parks
Uplands Campground

Seacliff RV Park

Seacliff State Beach Campground State Parks

New Brighton State Beach State Parks

Santa Vida RV Park, Santa Cruz, California

Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Campground, Pescadero

Pelican Point RV Park, Half Moon Bay

Half Moon State Beach State Parks
Francis Beach Campground

camping monterey

woods

seaside towns along coast at
Monterey Bay up to San Francisco –

(listed from south to north)