Best View Camp Sites

view campsite

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.

Swinger

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).

Los Padres National Forest

Kirk Creek Campground
on Highway 1 @ Nacimiento Rd
Big Sur CA

Willow Creek Road # 23S01
primitive camping on dirt road, above Hwy 1 @ Gorda, CA

sunset watch

Reyes Peak Camping
North of Ojai, CA
Pine Mountain Summit, CA Hwy 33

Off Cerro Noroeste Road, W of Pine Mountain, CA

Above Santa Maria, Highway 166
West of New Cuyama, CA

  • Miranda Pines Campground @ 4100′ elev
    Located well off hwy. on Road #32S13

San Bernardino National Forest
Toro Peak Campground

toro_campsite

Angeles National Forest

Fire Safe Spot

San Bernardino National Forest

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

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. No tables, no signs. Small campground at the highway is easy to find.

providence

I-40 Mojave Desert

view spot mojave

US Hwy 395 & surrounding areas

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

4x4 Camps

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

cabin rental

NFSsee 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

coloradoriverRV

 


Campgrounds Beach

California Campgrounds –
Camping at the Beach

Costal Cliffs

Autumn and Spring are often the best months to enjoy the (somewhat) uncrowded coastline of California. Kids are in school, summer vacation rush is over, and there is plenty of sunshine before those winter storms come rolling in.

reservations are highly recommended

Anything & any place along the coast is “much desired”, worthy of charging for. From seaside restaurants to convenient, paid parking lots – face it – California can be expensive.

Beach camping is no different. Coast camping in California is abundant, but state run campgrounds will run you a pretty penny. Camping fees are well above $20 per night. If you want flush toilets in the bathroom and a level, paved spot for a big RV, it will cost even more. Make sure to reserve a campsite as far ahead as possible. Ask about off-season months to visit.

Privately run campgrounds are often more expensive, but they might be a nicer facility and be in a better location. If you want free camping, then head to the northern part of the state – and take a dirt road to reach your seclusion. Both the Big Sur and Lost Coast both have excellent dispersed camping on backroads, at no charge, and a campfire permit is required for such camping.

Campgrounds situated on a sandy beach or right on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean. Private cove camp sites, tent cabin rentals, yurt resorts, RV campgrounds; Several coastal canyons (from sycamores to redwoods) usually have creeks and abundant camping options.

Pismo Clear Winter Day

Campgrounds Beach: a popular search phrase for camping near the coast in California. The best months to camp along the coast depends on what part of California you wish to visit – at what time of the year. With 700 miles of ocean front there is a lot to choose from – RV parks w/ small marina, 4×4 camps, hike-in only sites, and plenty of California State Parks & Beaches.

Much of the coastal camping is NOT “on-the-sand” beach camping. Most of the coastline in California is rugged, some forested and usually full of ‘wildfire prone’ chaparral. Cliffside campgrounds, redwood canyons with creeks, green grassy lawns w/ shade trees and paved camp sites, US 101 busy, freeway campgrounds; all are close enough to the shore to be considered COASTAL camping.

Even in winter, the coast can be quite mild in Southern Cal, so the campgrounds are open all year long. NorCal Coast gets the brunt of WET & COLD winter weather, so those camps are open seasonally, during warmer, drier months (APRIL-OCT).

JUNE GLOOM is a cloud layer that covers the coastline in the early part of summer. Weather is warm to cool with clouds, or the weather can be bright and sunny – if the marine layer ‘burns off’ by mid-day. Consider these local weather patterns, May Gray & June Gloom, when planning a vacation to the beaches of California.

listed from south to north

Southern California Beach Camping

Coronado Island
San Diego Beach Camping
Encinitas
Carlsbad
Orange County Beach Camping
San Clemente
Dana Point
Laguna Beach

Los Angeles Beach Camping

Bolsa Chica State Beach
Doheny State Beach
Malibu Creek State Park
Ventura Coast Camping

Coast Campgrounds

Central Coast Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping
Pismo Beach Camping
Morro Bay Camping
Big Sur Campground

Monterey Bay Camping

Monterey Bay Camping
Half Moon Bay
Santa Cruz Camping
Santa Cruz Redwoods

Angel Island

San Francisco Camping

Angel Island State Park
Point Reyes Camping
Marin Redwoods Camping
Sonoma Coast – Camping Jenner

Northern California Coast Camping

Mendocino Coast
Kings Range
Lost Coast: Shelter Cove
NorCal Redwoods Camping
Crescent City Camping

Stairwell to Beach

Orange County Beach Camping

Orange County Coastal Camping

OC Beach Campgrounds

The overdeveloped Orange County coast is packed with condos, homes, parks and beaches, coastal villages, restaurants, shops and train tracks, so campgrounds in this region are few and far more popular than one might expect. Since Los Angeles has very limited beach camping options, most tourists wander further south for SoCal beach camping on the OC or San Diego coast line.  Orange County Coast Campground reservations are highly recommended all year long, so make sure to plan ahead.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

pierscene

Bolsa Chica State Park
Huntington Beach, CA

Crystal Cove State Park
Tent Camp Primitive

Moro Campground
Beach Cottages
Laguna Beach, CA

Doheny State Beach
Dana Point, CA

Huntington State Beach
Huntington Beach, CA

Newport Canals

Newport Dunes RV Resort
Newport Beach, CA

San Clemente State Beach
San Clemente CA

 

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see more on OC towns –
Seal Beach, CA
Huntington Beach, CA
Newport Beach, CA
Laguna Beach, CA
Dana Point, CA
Capistrano Beach
San Clemente CA

Santa Cruz Redwoods

redwoods Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Mountains & Santa Cruz Redwood Parks

Camping out in the Santa Cruz mountains can be a magical experience. It is here where some city dweller first get a glimpse of the coastal giant trees. Towering above in several Redwood Parks, the hiking & camping are endless. Backing, day hikes, mountain biking are all popular activities in this region.

Since this mountain range is between the Santa Cruz coastline and San Francisco, situated right next to the mega-city “Bay Area”, you can always expect a few tourists about and lots of locals out enjoying their backyard (at all times of the year). Make campground or cabin reservations as far in advance as possible. Summers are the busiest months!

Tent Cabins
Tent Cabins: Big Basin Cabins can be arranged at Big Basin State Park, private vacation homes nearby, or a few small towns on Hwy 9 offer accommodations. On the coastal side is the small community of Pescadero near Butano SP.

Small towns nearby offer lodging & dining:

Big Basin Redwoods Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Campsites

Beach Campgrounds along the coast are made up mostly of State Beaches & Parks. This is a popular and busy part of the California coastline for camping, all year long. Many RVers vacationing year round and big family events are held often. Tent camping is also available – but you will be surrounded by motorhomes, and paying a premium price for a camp spot. With the major highway US 101 zooming along the cliffs at shoreline, some of these campground are located within ear distance from the freeway and the railroad track. Ocean waves may overpower the traffic noise, but we aren’t guaranteeing anything. Early summer vacations tend to be foggy.

Try also, Santa Barbara Mountains Camping

Ojai Camping & Ventura Coast Camping

nearby towns –

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