Big Sur International Marathon
Running on the Ragged Edge of the Western World
Iconic coastline, foot race from Big Sur to Carmel. Run along scenic Highway One, the nation’s first nationally designated Scenic Highway
Annual event; April
Held along Palmetto Avenue in Pacifica, is a weekend arts and crafts fair with over 190 arts and craft booths, live entertainment, plenty of tasty food and drink to please any appetite. Since 1986!
Annual event; September
Los Padres National Forest; Valle Vista Campground
The place is gorgeous with wildflowers, after a good wet winter. Snow is possible at this location.
Way out on the edges of Cerro Noroeste, facing north. This paved route was recently renamed Hudson Ranch Rd. Access is at a wide spot / shoulder, on a curve. A steep drop on a dirt driveway. Large RVs and motorhomes should attempt this rutted, dirt hill only after walking it
This wide-open space site is a small campground, in Los Padres National Forest – with amazing views over the California Central Valley. Oak trees and pinyon pines. Windy days, Winter or Springtime is your best bet for a non-smoggy day. The Sierra Nevada mountains range can be seen across the valley, 100+ miles away. On rare days, snow capped Mount Whitney can be seen from this location. New bathroom vault toilet built 2011.
This is the Golden Gate to California and the Wild West.
So, you wanna escape the tourist masses… and camp out, overlooking an amazing place?
(put on your hiking boots)
Nope, the Lighthouse doesn’t have a campground! There are no camping facilities at Muir Woods National Monument, nor Muir Beach. No camping at Stinson Beach, nor Bolinas.
The Tule Elk Reserve has no camping at all. Tomales Bay State Park no longer has car camping or RV camping available; hike-in or boat-in
What is available for campground camping on “the Point” is listed below, with phone numbers and links for more info.
Point Reyes National Seashore Campground
hike-in, bike-in, and boat-in camp sites only
Mount Tamalpais State Park Campground
Marin Headlands Camping
reservations required; no pets & no RVs
Samuel P. Taylor Redwood State Park
reservations recommended; open year round
Cycling, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking and boating are all popular outdoor recreation activities.
Small towns located on the Point Reyes peninsula do have a few private campgrounds, some of which can accommodate motorhomes. Follow towns links for those.
There are no RV parks, camper trailers or motorhomes allowed in campgrounds on the steep coastal region of Point Reyes. Most of the narrow, winding roads are forbidden for motorhome travels. No shoulder, no guard rails, on many curvy roads. Great viewpoints are best when you STOP to look, off the roadway.
nearby towns –
Camping right on the sand is possible in California, you just need to drive far enough to find it. Campground reservations are common (year round) on this stretch of coastline, since PISMO is a premier vacation spot for most of Central California.
blue links lead to State Park pages for camp reservations
This camping page features all beach front camping options along the Central Coast, from Santa Barbara to Big Sur. State Parks, State Beaches, bay side marinas and rugged rural coast camps. We even list private campgrounds and RV parks, just so you have more choices.
Flying Flags RV Resort, Buellton, CA
River Park RV Campground, Lompoc CA
Santa Maria Pines Campground (CLOSED)
Oceano Dunes State Park (SVRA) – Pismo Dunes Off Road Area
Le Sage Riviera RV Park, Grover Beach, CA
USDA National Forests lies inland along the Central Coast of California, all the way from Ventura to Monterey. Numerous recreational lakes and back roads that lead to secluded small campgrounds. Primitive dispersed camping is allowed, but campfires are limited to local fire restrictions. The later part of the year means drier conditions and sometimes campfires are not allowed during wildfire season. Obtain a free campfire permit & check current conditions from the local ranger before venturing into the backcountry.
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.
blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.
Orange County Coast Campground reservations are highly recommended all year long, so make sure to plan ahead.
Bolsa Chica State Park
Huntington Beach, CA
Crystal Cove State Park
Tent Camp & Beach Cottages
Laguna Beach, CA
Doheny State Beach
Dana Point, CA
Huntington State Beach
Huntington Beach, CA
Newport Dunes RV Resort
Newport Beach Resort & Marina
Newport Beach, CA
San Clemente State Beach
San Clemente CA
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.
listed from south to north
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.
Coastal hikes are the mildest trails California has to offer, ranging from scenic strolls along the base of beach cliffs to steep redwood forested canyons. From Torrey Pines in San Diego to the multiple redwood parks along the North Coast, there is no shortage of hiking near the coastline. Southern California has more beaches than parks, with tide pool areas being a favorite destination for many. Central Coast has lush, fern canyons with year-round flowing creeks and numerous bluffs and rugged beaches. Bay Area has hiking trails nearly everywhere – along the bay, in the woods or on the coast. NorCal has all the wilderness, parks and remote beaches one could ever hope for. What are you waiting for? Get out there.
Channel Island National Park Map
Los Angeles Hiking Maps
Los Padres NF South (Ojai, Santa Barbara, Frazier)
Los Padres NF North (San Luis Obispo, Big Sur)
Marin Hiking Maps
Mendocino National Forest Map
Six Rivers National Forest Map
Ventana Wilderness Map w/ Silver Peak
Tent camping directly on a sandy beach can be found at USAL BEACH – on remote reaches of the rugged Lost Coast, via long dirt roads (not recommended for RV or camper trailers). Numerous small, cheap, forested campgrounds can be found on the Kings Range (dirt) roads. The area is also known as Honeydew or the Emerald Triangle. The “emerald” comes from the color of the main economic staple, cannabis. Heed all warnings. Private Property signs and gates mean that you need to turn arund and look for camping elsewhere. (Before you hear the gun shots.)
The remainder of camp accommodations are State Parks and State Beaches on the Mendo coast, offering developed campgrounds and most are first come, first serve.
There are no campgrounds inside the popular, historic village of Mendocino, CA , but two state parks are within a mile to the north and south side of town: Van Damme Campground & Russian Gulch Campground. Local KOA and a few private RV parks make up the rest of the scenic coastline.
Anchor Bay Campground @ Fish Rock Beach
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.
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.
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.
Little River State Beach Campground
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.
Humboldt towns along the coast –
(listed from south to north)
Fort Ross State Historic Park
(a Russian fur trading fort from 1812)
Sonoma County Parks Campgrounds
Private campgrounds @ Sonoma Coast –
Sonoma coastal towns –