Tag Archives: coastline

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.

Tents at Capinteria
Tents at Capinteria SB

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

carpinteriabeach

carpfirewood

Los Angeles Beach Camping

Bolsa Chica State Beach
Capinteria SB
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

marina

Monterey Bay Camping

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

Angel Island

San Francisco Camping

Point Reyes Camping
Marin Redwoods Camping
Sonoma Coast – Camping Jenner

Northern California Coast Camping

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

Stairwell to Beach

 

Ventura Beach Camping

Ventura Campgrounds

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Ventura County Park Campgrounds

on US Hwy 101 Seacliff / Mussel Shoals stretch of beach

Ventura City Campground RV Parks

blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.

State Park

Ventura State Beach Campgrounds

Ventura Lake Parks

Ventura County coastal towns

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Beach city w/ nice downtown, north of Los Angeles, CA

See also – Ojai Camping, Santa Barbara Beach Camping and Santa Barbara Mountains Camping

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San Diego Beach Camping

Coastal Cliffs San Diego

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. Winter storms can get windy and rainy, but most campgrounds are still open. 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

Seagulls at Cardiff

see also
San Diego Campground Camping

see a list of all
San Diego cities & towns

baybridge

San Diego Camping

Humboldt Beach Camping

Humboldt Camping Sites

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The sheer beauty of real weather, the clashing storms and ocean with the land. Cold and wet half the year (or more), Northern Cal has less people and more scenery. More nature, more land, more forests, more view points, more wild beauty – than the rest of the California coast.

Maybe more hippies too!

The fantastic coastlines of Northern California are forested, rugged, rocky and they receive a lot more rain than the rest of California. Coastal fog or deep cloud layers are common, even in warmer months.

Tall cliffs, large lagoons, rural towns, and foggy beaches. Beaches filled with small rocks. No sand? Minimal access to the coast in some areas.

Super tall, coastal redwood trees thrive along this oceanfront wildness. They are located just a skip away from the sea. Most groves located miles inland, near US 101 highway. Close enough, but not out there on the windy beach, exposed with the elements.

redwood101

NorCal Coast Campgrounds are located generally along river ways, near redwood forests and near paved roads. Redwood Campgrounds are all over up here. Literally, everywhere. Some camps are better suited for RV campers than others. A few parks have walk-in or hike-in access to camp sites.

Several redwood parks are 20 miles from the coast, so know the exact location before you book a campsite online. Driving “over to coast for a quick day trip” is no easy task, since routes can be narrow backroads with many curves. Pavement, if you’re lucky.

listed below:
campgrounds actually located at the coastline are labeled in bold text

When the weather is warm and sunny, people – flock to the hidden coves, rugged beaches, or they float, kayak, fish or raft on the rivers, or the enjoy long day hikes.

blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.

State Park

NorCal Redwoodsstate parks
State Parks 
& Campgrounds

Humboldt Lagoon State Park

  • Stone Lagoon Campground
  • Dry Lagoon Hike-in Sites

Humboldt Redwoods State Park & Campground camp

Little River State Beach Campground

Patricks Point State Park Campground  camp

Prairie Creek Redwood State Park camp

  • Butler Creek Walk-in Camp
  • Elk Prairie Campground
  • Gold Bluffs Campground

Richardson Grove State Park camp

humboldtSP

Some redwoods parks are open year round, others only in summer months. Reservations for campgrounds is common along this desired vacation region of California. River kayakers, mountain bikers, tent campers, avid hikers, road trippers and RV campers.

camps actually located at the coastline are labeled in bold text

California Redwood forests are found along the NorthCoast; coastal redwoods. And in the Sierra Nevada mountains; those big redwoods are called Sequoias.

see more big, old trees

redwood parks

Humboldt County Parks with Camping

 

Lost Coast Camping BLM BLM camping

USA Lumber Company

USA Lumber (historic site) & Campground

Usal Beach Campground
(on the border of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties)

Flint Ridge Campground
(on the border of DelNorte and Humboldt Counties)

 

redwood parks

Black Sands Beach, California

Humboldt towns along the coast –

(listed from south to north)

 

Lost Coast Drive Dirt Roads
Lost Coast: Drive Dirt Roads – USAL ROAD# 431, this road is the hard left off HWY 1, just as it peels away from coast and heads into redwoods and US 101. Follow this dirt and gravel scenic wonder drive out to Usal Beach Campground, Sinkyone Wilderness and Shelter Cove. The pavement picks up again near Honeydew, a rugged 30-something miles north. Real 4×4 may be needed in wet weather.

23S01 – Los Padres NF

Big Sur Dirt Roads

Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

Willow Creek Road
Los Burros Road

South Big Sur Coast Dirt Roads & super scenic US HWY 1 – North of San Simeon and Hearst Castle, north of Ragged Point and just past Gorda, CA a dirt shoulder, widens, a break in the bushes on the right side of the highway, a small wooden sign for the Yurt Resort called Treebones and the turn off to the back-country of Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

Willow Creek is a steep coastal canyon w/ Willow Creek Trail #5E08 in the creek below and the dirt road 1000′ above. Willow Creek Day Use Area, the Willow Creek bridge and Willow Creek beach w/ restrooms, picnic tables, and paved parking lot near the highway.

DIRT ROAD, high clearance is recommended, but not required. 4×4 may be needed in wet weather. Motorhomes, trucks w/ trailers and RV campers are not gonna like this rugged, narrow, steep, dirt road and are advised to stick to the pavement. Camper vans and SUVs are be better suited for this terrain.

  • Both Thomas Bros. Maps & Benchmark Map’s California Atlas has this route listed as Los Burros Road
  • Google Maps has this route named Will Creek Road
  • Yahoo Maps has this route as Willow Creek – Los Burros Road
  • Mapquest has this one listed as Los Burros Rd – Fort Hunter Liggett (which is a military base,  on the opposite side of the mountain range near US Hwy 101)


View Larger Map

 

Free Camping in Big Sur

Willow Creek Rd

Several primitive camp sites can be found along this rugged dirt road, which climbs steeply and switchbacks thru redwoods, madrones, cedars, grass lands and oak hills. Sites within the first 3 miles  of this road offer the serene sounds of the ocean – waves, seals, sea lions as well as traffic on the busy highway. There are a few private properties back here in the boonies too, so read signs and don’t go exploring this region in the dark.

About 8 miles back on Willow Creek Rd is Alder Creek Campground – a small developed camp w/ only 2 camp sites and no piped water and no fees.

Prewitt Ridge  also has numerous ideal top-of-the-world, free camp sites, which do require a lot more dirt road driving and a very good backcountry map.

  • Sycamore Flat Road intersects @ 3 miles up
  • Alder Peak Camp is San Martin Top @ 12 miles up
  • South Coast Ridge Road is at the very top @ 14 miles
  • Lions Den Camp is 19 miles of dirt road driving
  • Three Peaks Camp is 21 miles way back there
Los Padres Monterey District Big Sur Map NatGeo

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)