IB Sun and Sea Festival
San Diego county’s Imperial Beach is the home of the biggest & best sand castles on the west coast. Sandcastle City!
Annual event; August
Gone are the days of ‘beach blanket bingo’ where film crews glamorized California – the beautiful people, the nice vehicles, the sport of surfing and the glorious beaches. There are very few places left on the California coast that you can actually drive a vehicle on the sand, right next to the ocean. The military bases, oil corporations and the utility companies have the front row seats to the Pacific genocide, and the rest of the population is restricted with extreme limited access.
Baja California has minimal regulations on coastal access with a car. No pavement, no signs, no cell phone signal, and no help for miles – something to consider if you get stuck south of the border in Mexico. Baja has numerous places to explore below Ensenada, but asking locals is always a favored approach. Pay attention to private property signs and always close the cattle gate (if you found it closed).
Southern California, no beaches allow vehicle traffic. San Diego offers a sliver of sand @ Silver Strand SB, which is a developed campground for motorhomes and car campers, located right on the beach south of Coronado, CA. Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, San Diego allows driving on sand and a favorite among active dogs, but not camping is allowed. In Los Angeles you can park a motorhome at a sandy, paved campground for a hefty overnight fee. Dockweiler Beach, right near the Chevron plant and LA sewage treatment facility. Sounds delightful, not.
Ventura & Santa Barbara Coastal Regions have many awesome State Beaches, but none allow vehicles on the sand.
Central Coast California:
after-the-fun maintenance tip:
Salt water and sand is very corrosive to metal – which will rust your truck or car badly. Now that you’ve had fun on the beach, we remind you to clean the underneath of your vehicle ASAP. Spraying powerful hose in your wheel wells and all underneath the vehicle. You might need to lay on the ground and get wet to do this job properly. Some car wash places might be able to do this service for you, but it will cost ya.
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.
Northern California river camping. Douglas City is hardly even a town much less a city. A post office and a general store is the majority of what makes up this riverfront locale.
Tucked away on the scenic Trinity River, this small campground is perfect for those wanting to explore the Trinity River, Trinity Lake or the Trinity Alps region. Region is well known for fishing, hiking, kayaking and rafting. A small beach allows for river access. Group picnic area, picnic tables, telephone, beach, paved loop road are just a few amenities.
From Douglas City, drive half mile west on Hwy 299 to Steiner Flat Road. Follow signs to the developed camp. Numerous dirt roads lead to river edge, so there are primitive camping options available along Steiner Flat Road for those seeking free overnight stays.
• Elevation: 1,500′
• Number of Sites: 20
• Camping Reservations: No
• Sites Available: First come, First serve
• Vehicle Accessibility: Vehicle limit 28 ft. max.
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Water: Piped; river nearby
• Toilet: Flush & Vault
• Season: Closed for winter, Nov-April
• Fee: Yes
• Operated By: Bureau of Land Management
• Closest Town: Douglas City, CA
BLM Redding Ranger Station
nearby destinations –
Chappie Shasta OHV Area
Douglas City, CA
Shasta Trinity National Forest
Trinity Alps Wilderness
Whiskeytown Lake NRA