10 Best Campgrounds in Southern California

Looking for the best campsites in Southern California? Look no further! Our guide covers the top 10 campsites, complete with breathtaking views, fun activities, and everything you need for a memorable outdoor adventure. Get ready to pitch your tent and immerse yourself in nature!
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best campgrounds in Southern California

Welcome to the land of sunshine and sandy beaches

SoCal is home to some of the most popular camping spots in the world because of its consistently sunny weather and abundance of diverse landscapes. From beaches and deserts, to mountains and valleys, this article narrows down 10 of the best campsites for you to explore. 

Desert Campgrounds

Venture into the desert to experience some of Southern California’s most secluded and unique camping sites, such as Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping, Anza-Borrego State Park, Indian Cove Campground, and Vallecito County Park.

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Jumbo Rocks Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park for visitors looking to get away from it all. Located 18 miles away from the Visitor Center, this campsite offers a private and secluded camping experience with its proximity to large rock formations and boulders.

    • Address: 2601 Sunfair Rd., Joshua Tree, CA 92252
    • Website: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/jumbo-rocks-campground.htm
    • Phone: (760) 367-5500
    • Type of Camping: Tent camping, RV camping (no hookups)
    • Amenities: Outdoor amphitheater, picnic tables, fire grates, and restrooms with flush toilets and sinks
    • Fees: $20/ night for a max of 6 people, $10 for seniors. 
Anza-Borrego Campground

Anza-Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Borrego Springs, CA

Anza-Borrego spans across a desert landscape covered in breathtaking rock formations. The park is home to the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, the largest and most popular in the area. 

There are 120 campsites and 5 group sites, and it’s an ideal location for activities like cycling, mountain biking, nature walks and stargazing at nearby Observatory & Research Center. There’s even guided hot-air ballooning adventures!

    • Address: 200 Palm Canyon Dr., Borrego Springs, CA 92004.
    • Website: http://parks.ca.gov/anzaborrego/
    • Phone: (760) 767-5311.
    • Type of Camping: Developed and primitive tent camping.
    • Amenities: Educational presentations on desert ecosystems, full bathrooms, hiking, showers, potable water
    • Fees: $35/per night.
Indian Cove Campground

Indian Cove Campground, Joshua Tree, CA

Located in Joshua Tree National Park, off Highway 62, Indian Cove is perfectly situated for people looking to explore a boundless, vast desert area. Surrounded by iconic rock formations beloved by climbers from all over the world, the area has 100 primitive tent sites available.

Primitive camping means no RV hook-ups, showers or flush toilets available; but the amazing natural surroundings and remote location will hopefully make up for any lack of amenities. From the serene views of the nearby mountains to wide open skies at night, there’s plenty to discover through both guided tours as well as independent exploration. Keep in mind that there is no water at this location, you will need to bring your own.

    • Address: Indian Cove Campground, Joshua Tree National Park.
    • Phone: (760) 367-5500.
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV.
    • Amenities: Fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilets.
    • Fees: $20/ night (individual) / $40/ night (group)

Beach Campgrounds

Southern California offers stunning beachfront camping, with campgrounds such as Leo Carrillo State Park Campground and Malibu Creek State Park Campground.

San Onofre Bluffs Campsite

San Onofre Bluffs Campground, San Onofre State Beach, California

    • Address: Old Pacific Highway Exit off I-5, San Clemente, CA 92672
    • Phone: (949) 492-4872 
    • Type of Camping: Tent camping, RV camping w/ hookups
    • Amenities: Birdwatching, fishing, biking, surfing, picnic tables, fire rings, BBQs; taps with drinking water, restrooms, showers 
    • Fees: $35 per night for vehicles up to 27 feet; $50 per night for vehicles over 27 feet 
Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park Campground, Calabasas, CA

Located 6 miles north of Highway 1 near Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Creek State Park Campground offers a unique outdoor recreation experience. This campground features 63 individual sites for visitors to set up camp.

    • Address: Malibu Creek State Park, 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302.
    • Phone: (818) 880-0367 
    • Type of Camping: Tent camping, RV camping w/ hookups
    • Amenities: Biking, hiking, picnic areas, rock climbing, fire rings, BBQs; taps with drinking water, restrooms, showers.
    • Fees: $12/ car, per day
Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park Campground, Malibu, California

Located on the Malibu coast in Southern California, Leo Carrillo State Park Campground is a popular camping spot offering 135 campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs. Its convenient location provides easy access to the beach just 10 minutes away by foot.

    • Address: 35000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
    • Phone: (800) 444-7275 
    • Type of Camping: Tent camping, RV camping w/ hookups, Primitive Camping 
    • Amenities: Hiking, geocaching, swimming, surfing, scuba diving, windsurfing, fishing, picnic tables, fire rings and BBQs with food lockers nearby; taps with non-potable water; restrooms, showers
    • Fees: $12/ car, per day 
Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach Campground, Carlsbad, CA

Located in San Diego, California, South Carlsbad State Beach Campground is the ideal place for beach lovers to go camping. Activities include swimming, surfing, skin diving, fishing and more! The campground is equipped with a total of 223 campsites – one-third of them situated on the bluff – providing gorgeous ocean views from some locations.

    • Address: South Carlsbad State Beach, 7201 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008.
    • Phone: (760) 438-3143
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV
    • Amenities: Camp store, fire rings, restaurant, restrooms, showers
    • Fees: $35 per night (inland tent), $50 per night (beach side tent), $65 per night (RV hookups).
Hobson Beach Park

Hobson Beach Campground, Riverside, California

Hobson Beach Park is a small campground with 31 sites located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Ventura County, California. The campground offers beautiful views of the Channel Islands, with opportunities to watch brown pelicans.

    • Address: 5210 Pacific Coast Hwy
      Ventura, CA 93001
    • Phone: (805) 654-3951 
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV
    • Amenities: Beach access, picnic tables, fire rings, BBQ, restrooms, showers, swimming, WiFi
    • Fees: $43/ day (peak), $41/ day (off peak) 

Mountain Campgrounds

Some of the best campgrounds in Southern California’s are tucked among the towering peaks and picturesque forests in the state’s mountain campground areas.

Table Mountain Angeles National Forest

Table Mountain Campground, Angeles National Forest, California

Table Mountain is ensconced in a hilly area surrounded by oak and pine trees and two expansive meadows. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, the views are awe-inspiring and give you a bird’s eye perspective of the surrounding landscapes. The campground is home to the Table Mountain Nature Trail, which is a popular spot to observe birds, squirrels, deer, and even the rare California condor.

    • Address: 12371 N. Upper Big Tujunga Road, Angeles National Forest, CA 91042
    • Phone: (626) 335-1251 
    • Type of Camping: Tent camping, RV camping (no hookups)
    • Amenities: Mountain biking, concessions, hiking, drinking water, food storage lockers, wildlife watching, picnic tables, fire rings, BBQ grills, vault toilets
    • Fees: $25 per night for single sites; $50 per night for double site
Crystal Lake Campground

Crystal Lake Campground, Angeles National Forest, California

    • Address: Top of HWY 39 (mile marker 38.13)
    • Phone: (877) 444-6777 
    • Type of Camping: Tent camping, RV camping (no hookups)  
    • Amenities: Hiking, picnicking, fishing, fire rings, BBQs, taps with non-potable water; non-flush/waterless toilets, cafe with food and supplies
    • Fees: $12 per night per site, $5 for extra vehicle
San Bernardino Mountains

Serrano Campground, San Bernardino, CA

Serrano Campground, located in the San Bernardino Mountains on the north side of Big Bear Lake, is one of the most popular campgrounds in Big Bear Valley with 132 camping sites.

    • Address: Big Bear Lake
    • Phone: (909) 382-2600.
    • Type of Camping: Tent, trailer, RV.
    • Amenities: Hiking, lake access, Potable water, restrooms, showers.
    • Fees: $35/ day per car, $70/ day for groups.
Pineknot Campground

Pineknot Campground, San Bernardino, CA

Located at a 6,900 feet elevation in the mountains of San Bernardino at Big Bear Lake, Pineknot Campground is an idyllic spot with views of forests and blooming wildflowers during springtime. There are 47 campsites available, however there’s no drinking or potable water so you’ll need to bring your own.

    • Address: San Bernardino National Forest
    • Phone: (909) 382-2600.
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV
    • Amenities: Hiking, access to Snow Summit Ski Resort, pit toilets.
    • Fees: $31/ night
Lake Skinner Campground, Winchester

Lake Skinner Campground, Riverside County Park, CA

Lake Skinner Campground is a fantastic hidden park located in Riverside County Park in Winchester, California, just outside of Temecula. The campground has 257 campsites for RVs, trailers, and tents.

The camping areas are arranged among three loops close to the lake, giving visitors easy lake access. The lake is operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and anglers enjoy fishing for bass, carp, trout, and catfish.

    • Address: 37701 Warren Road, Winchester, CA 92596
    • Phone: (951) 926-1541 
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV w/ hookups 
    • Amenities: Hiking, fishing, six showers available for guests all day long, four bathrooms with flush toilets and sinks
    • Fees: Varies depending on the site and the season 

Unique Camping Experiences

Big Bear Yellow Post Sites, San Bernardino National Forest, CA

Big Bear Yellow Post Sites offer a unique camping experience in the San Bernardino National Forest. These individual sites  and do not require reservations. These primitive campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis don’t have amenities like water or restrooms. These Yellow Post Sites provide a truly off-the-grid experience, with about twenty separate yellow post campsites.

    • Address: San Bernardino National Forest
    • Phone: (909) 382-2600.
    • Type of Camping: Backcountry, primitive camping. 
    • Amenities: Fire rings, hiking.
    • Fees: Free, first come, first served.
McCall Memorial Equestrian Campground

McCall Memorial Equestrian Campground, Riverside, California

McCall Equestrian Camp is a unique 88-acre park in Mountain Center, California, 4 miles south of Idyllwild at an elevation of 4,400 feet. There are more than 100 RV, tent and horse sites, with the majority being RV hookups. The campground is also is dog-friendly, so you can bring both your horse and your pup. There’s also of bird watching, including Steller’s jays and mountain chickadees.

    • Address: 28500 McCall Park Road, Mountain Center, CA 92561
    • Phone: (951) 659-2311 
    • Type of Camping: Tent, horse sites, RV (no hookup)
    • Amenities: Bird watching, horseback riding, hiking trails, mountain biking, bathhouse, restrooms, hot showers, troughs
    • Fees: $30-35 per night (Includes 6 people, 2 vehicles), $6 additional vehicle fee 
Los Padres National Forest

Reyes Peak Campground, Los Padres National Forest, CA

Located in the beautiful Los Padres National Forest, Reyes Peak sits atop a 7,000 feet elevation, with sweeping views of the Cuyama Badlands and Channel Islands. This campsite provides easy access to Sespe Wilderness for boating, hiking, and biking trails.

    • Address: Los Padres National Forest
    • Phone: (805) 646-4348 or (805) 448-6487.
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV.
    • Amenities: Hiking, rock climbing, vault toilets, fire rings, tables.
    • Fees: $20/ day (single) or $40/ day (group) 
Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills, Owens Valley, CA

Located just outside Lone Pine, CA on Hwy 395 in central-east California, the Alabama Hills campground is separated from the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains by two miles of wildflower-filled meadows.

Known for its formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills, the Alabama Hills Recreation Area has become a popular destination for hikers, climbers and campers alike. There are multiple camps available including BLM Tuttle Creek Campground which provides 83 RV/tent sites open year-round, as well as dispersed camping across the area.

    • Address: West of Lone Pine, California, in the Owens Valley.
    • Phone: (760) 872-4881
    • Type of Camping: Dispersed
    • Amenities: Hiking, rock climbing.
    • Fees: Free, campfire permits required.
Baja California

Guadalupe Canyon Oasis Hot Springs and Nature Reserve, Baja, CA

Experience Baja California, Mexico with an unforgettable stay at Guadalupe Canyon Oasis Hot Springs. This is a small  campground with only 14 campsites available, all offering private hot spring pools as well as open air tubs ideal surrounded by a spectacular natural backdrop.

    • Address: Northern Baja California, Mexico
    • Type of Camping: Tent, RV
    • Amenities: Hot springs, hiking, river access
Rancho Jurupa Regional Park

Rancho Jurupa Campground, Riverside, California

    • Address: 4800 Crestmore Rd, Jurupa Valley, CA 92509
    • Phone: (800) 234-park (7275) 
    • Amenities: BBQ, disc golf, fishing, large rock/boulder play area, picnic tables, playgrounds, laundry, showers, miniature golfing, splash pad
    • Fees: $40-$55 per night 
    • Type of Camping: Cabin rental, RV camping

Rancho Jurupa Regional Park Campground is located along the Santa Ana River just west of Riverside, California. The campground sits among cottonwood trees, expansive meadows, and two of 3-acre lakes*. Visitors can enjoy a splash pad for cooling off in the summer, miniature golf, disc golf, and a rock climbing playground. Anglers can fish for trout and catfish in the lakes.  The park has 131 campsites, including 70 with full hookups and 61 with water and electricity*

Hurkey Creek Park Campground

Hurkey Creek Park Campground, Riverside, California

Hurkey Creek Park Campground is located in the San Jacinto Mountains, about 8 miles from Idyllwild and a mile from Lake Hemet. The campground has 130 single-campsites set among a forest of large pine trees. 

    • Address: 56375 CA-74, Mountain Center, CA 92561
    • Phone: (951) 659-2050 
    • Amenities: Hiking, fishing, fire/grill rings, picnicking, playgrounds, mountain biking, potable water, showers, restrooms
    • Fees: $30-35 per night (Includes 6 people, 2 vehicles), $6 additional vehicle fee 
    • Type of Camping: Tent, Primitive, RV

Resources for Southern California Camping

      1. Camp California: Online guide to RV parks and campsites throughout California.
      2. Recreation.gov: General information for California campgrounds in national forests and parks.
      3. Thriftynorthwestmom.com: A list of free campsites in California and across the US.
      4. ReserveAmerica: a list of tent and RV campgrounds throughout the US.
      5. Hipcamp: AirBnB-style reservation site of state parks, national parks, farms, vineyards, and nature preserves throughout California and beyond.

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