Best Camping in California: Top 10 Places to Go

California is home to some of the nation's most dramatic and beautiful landscapes, from the mountains to the desert and the sea. It's a treasure trove of 110 state parks and sparkling beaches where you may spend the night within an old-growth redwood forest next to roaring waves, beside expansive views, and close to enormous boulders. In short, many excellent places for the best camping in California exist.

best camping in california

California might be the top adventure destination regarding ecological richness, accessibility, and natural beauty. In addition to some of the most untamed mountains on the continent, this region is also home to beautiful beaches, old-growth redwood forests, endless dunes, impossibly colossal granite walls, and a variety of other natural wonders.

California has excellent beautiful places to set up a tent, including cliff-lined beaches, towering mountain ranges, and Redwood forests. In California, you will love this state for every type of camper and season, whether you know how to set up camp like a pro or have never slept outside. California has several fantastic sites to camp in the winter, but there are even more options now that spring and summer are just around the bend. Here are our top recommendations for discovering the best camping in California.

Top 10 Places to Camp in California

Camping by the beach in California will allow you to experience breathtaking sunsets over the water, redwood tree canopies, and hundreds of brilliant desert stars. All alternatives provide excellent camping opportunities in California. Check out the top 10 places for best camping in California, which is incredibly beautiful, with deserts, woods, and beaches all just waiting for you to explore them.    

camping in californiaFor those who enjoy the great outdoors, California is a mecca. The state is home to numerous natural wonders, including the hottest spot on Earth and the tallest trees. There are many beautiful spots to camp in California, so it makes sense. The top 10 places to camp in California you will adore are listed below. 

1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Location: Tuolumne, Mariposa, Mono and Madera Counties, California, United States

Phone: 209-372-0200

Website: Yosemite National Park  

When to Visit: June to September

Best Campsites: Tuolumne Meadows, Upper Pines, High Sierra Camps

Activities: Hiking, backpacking, camping, biking

Yosemite National Park in California is a symbol of the spectacular natural grandeur of America. Every year, it receives millions of people who are lured by its impressive waterfalls, enormous sequoia trees, a profusion of wildlife, and jaw-dropping cliffs like Half Dome and El Capitan. You can find your place in Yosemite whether you're seeking the trip of a lifetime filled with adventure and tranquility or wish to climb, backpack, or ski in one of the most breathtaking settings on Earth.

Yosemite National Park, located in the Californian Rockies, is well-known for its granite cliffs and waterfalls. Newcomers will value the year-round Upper Pines campground, which forgoes isolation in favor of a desirable location on the valley floor, close to popular tourist destinations. The 304-site Tuolumne Meadows campground, located outside of the valley at an elevation of 8,619 feet, features vistas from "The Sound of Music" and paths that lead to Elizabeth Lake and the Cathedral Lakes. At the park's southernmost point, Wawona offers spacious campsites scattered along the Merced River with quick access to Mariposa Grove's enormous sequoias.

“What a place. If you like the outdoors and hiking, this is your place! I've been to dozens of National Parks and this is as good as it gets. Clean, easy hiking and road access.”

2. Channel Islands Park

Channel Islands Park

Location: Santa Barbara County & Ventura County, California, United States

Phone: 805-658-5730

Website: Channel Islands  

When to Visit: Fall

Best Campsites: Scorpion Canyon

Activities: RV camping, hiking, kayaking, sea cave exploring

Five great islands and the surrounding seas are included in the Channel Islands National Park, which preserves and guards a richness of natural and cultural elements. The islands are San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara, in that order. Near the California mainland in proximity. More than 2,000 plant and animal species, including 150 unique to the Channel Islands, can be found there.

The islands, commonly referred to as "The American Galapagos," have a viewing tower from which you can observe 445 different bird species or engage in world-class diving, snorkeling, trekking, kayaking, and sea cave exploration. On all the islands in this haven of preservation, camping is also permitted, but you must first reserve boat transportation if you intend to stay the night. The islands, commonly referred to as "The American Galapagos," have a viewing tower from which you can observe 445 different bird species or engage in world-class diving, snorkeling, trekking, kayaking, and sea cave exploration. On all the islands in this haven of preservation, camping is also permitted, but you must first reserve boat transportation if you intend to stay the night.

Very remote and quiet even though it is close to all the people in Southern California. We like the island and the hiking, but truthfully the boat ride over and back was probably the best part.

3. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Location: 74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms , CA 92277-3597

Phone: 760-367-5500

Website: Joshua Tree National Park  

When to Visit: March to May, October to November

Best Campsites: Jumbo Rocks, White Tank

Activities: Hiking, camping, star gazing, park ranging

Joshua Tree National Park is the most spectacular natural desert gem in the world, boasting approximately 800,000 acres of mysterious splendor. In Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems are two separate desert ecologies that collide. In a landscape that has been shaped by powerful winds and sporadic downpours of rain, a remarkable array of flora and animals call it home. A rich cultural history, ominous geological features, and starry nights all contribute to the wonder of this enormous wilderness in southern California.

The variety of things to do at Joshua Tree National Park is almost as large as the park itself. Arrive for a few hours to go hiking on various trails, ideal for walkers of all skill levels, or arrange an exhilarating rock climb among unique boulder outcroppings. Several campsites are available in one of nature's most appealing desert retreats for those who have more time. Park rangers offer special programs and ranger-led tours to inform visitors about the park's topography, fauna, and plant life, as well as its fascinating history stretching back to the early Pinto Man and the gold seekers of the 1800s.

“Unlike anything else I have ever seen! This California section of the Mojave desert is fascinating, with all sorts of plant life that are unique to the arid, hot, and dry climates of the desert. ”

4. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Location: Shasta, Lassen, Plumas, and Tehama counties, California, United States

Phone: 530-595-4480

Website: Lassen Volcanic National Park  

When to Visit: Summer or early Fall

Best Campsites: Manzanita Lake, Butte Lake, Summit Lake South Campground

Activities: Biking, hiking, glamping, camping, stargazing, fishing

Lassen Volcanic National Park, home to hissing fumaroles and boiling mud pots, is tucked away in Northern California's serene forests and wildness. The southernmost volcano in the Lassen Peak, Cascade Range, is the world's largest plug dome volcano. In the Lassen Volcanic National Park, the land is genuinely alive. This park in the northeast of California indeed bubbles, steams, and roars since it has all four types of volcanoes: shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome.  

Lassen's spectacular 160,452 acres include stunning alpine lakes and meadows filled with rushing waterfalls and volcanic topography. One of the seven seasonal campgrounds is a great place to set up camp. Popular Manzanita Lake has tent sites and posh camping cottages, and Butte Lake has the most privacy. With magnificent views and easy access to the lake, Summit Lake South Campground is located in the center of the park on Summit Lake's southern shore.   

“This is a national park I didn't know existed until two weeks before I went there. And it was SO worth the visit. The drive on highway 89 was beautiful, and the park is breathtaking.”

5. Redwood National and State Park

Redwood National and State Park

Location: Humboldt County & Del Norte County, California, US

Phone: 707-464-6101

Website: Redwood National & State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: Elk Prairie Campground, Jedediah Smith Campground

Activities: Camping, hiking, biking, backpacking

Redwood National Park and State Parks contain some of the planet's tallest and oldest trees. Old-growth coast redwoods can be found in Redwood National Park, which was founded in 1968 and is situated in northernmost coastal California. These magnificent trees have a 2,000-year lifespan and can reach more than 300 feet. Sword ferns, berry bushes, Douglas fir, spruce, and hemlock combine to form a dense understory with several canopies.  

Summer is the perfect season to explore Redwood National Park since the weather is warmer and the redwood trees are cozier. The tallest trees on Earth are found in Redwood National Park, in case you weren't impressed by the tall timbers in Sequoia. Backcountry glamping allows you to bring your dogs and make it a family event; however, you may need to obtain a few permits before you leave. Check the air quality before you go because local seasonal fall fires can impact it.

“One of the most amazing national parks out there. Pictures do not even come close to describing how big those trees are. Check out the beaches nearby, too.”

6. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Location: Crystal Cove State Park, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California 92651

Phone: 949-494-3539

Website: Crystal Cove State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: Moro Campground

Activities: Diving, swimming, surfing, camping, biking

In contrast to the spotless, new homes and perfect greens of the Pelican Hills Golf Club that overlook this wilderness sanctuary, Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, California, is best recognized for its rustic environment. A 1,140-acre underwater park lies nearby Crystal Cove Beach and is perfect for snorkelers and scuba divers. El Moro, a 2,200-acre chaparral canyon with 18 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding paths, is located on the park's southern border.

Crystal Cove is a state beach park in Orange County dotted with quaint coves off Pacific Coast Highway. It is situated between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. This location offers some of the best open spaces along the coast for beachcombing, swimming, surfing, scuba diving, and skin diving. Suppose you want to ride a mountain bike with the same breathtaking seaside vistas and head inland. Primitive camping choices are accessible along the hillside canyon, but you'll also be near the charming white cottages and rentals in the historic Crystal Cove neighborhood.

“Crystal Cove State Park Historic District, at the Crystal Cove State Beach, was a pleasant surprise. We didn't know much about the area and dropped in on a lark.”

7. Sequoia National Area

Sequoia National Area

Location: Tulare County, California, United States

Phone: 559-565-3341

Website: Sequoia & Kings Canyon  

When to Visit: June to August

Best Campsites: Lodgepole Campground, Wuksachi Lodge

Activities: Climbing, camping, hiking, rafting, cave exploration

At least 40 redwood groves may be found in Sequoia National Park, with the Giant Forest—home to the 275-foot-tall and 36-foot-wide General Sherman sequoia tree—being the most well-known. Sequoia National Park, which is home to some of the giant trees in the world, is a sobering site to visit. You may feel little compared to the beautiful trees that soar hundreds of feet above you at the park.

Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park is a terrific place for whitewater rafting, cave exploration, and waterfall walks if you're looking for enormous trees and a wild adventure close to the towering redwoods of the Sierra Nevada foothills. In the winter, you may also do rock climbing, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. The three-mile-distance seasonal riverfront Lodgepole Campground provides easy access to park attractions, including the Giant Forest and the Wuksachi Lodge and Restaurant, while being adjacent to the visitor center with free shuttle service.

“The trees of the giant forest are something to marvel at. Also, take advantage of the spectacular views from Moro Rock. So beautiful and breathtaking!”

8. Van Damme State Park

Van Damme State Park

Location: 8001 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456

Phone: 707-937-5804

Website: Van Damme State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: Van Damme State Park’s Campground

Activities: Camping, kayaking, fishing, sea cave exploration

Van Damme State Park features a beautiful beach, a thick fern-filled woodland, and year-round camping. It is located three miles south of Mendocino on Highway One. But it's unquestionably worthwhile to go, especially if you enjoy taking quiet nature strolls. The park is very active. It has a tiny beach, fern canyon, pygmy forest, coast redwoods, camping, and picnic areas.

South of the town of Mendocino, along the Mendocino coast, you'll find Van Damme State Park Campground. With campsites along the Little River and some higher up on a ridge in an area known as Highland Meadow, Van Damme State Park offers some of the most excellent camping in the region. At Van Damme State Park, visitors can go snorkeling, diving, fishing for abalone, kayaking, hiking, and sightseeing. There are 68 campsites at Van Damme State Park Campground. Only tents are permitted at five of the sites near the campground's eastern end; trailers, RVs, and tents are allowed at the remaining sites. 

“If you love to hike in a beautiful setting, this is the place. There is camping also. For hikers, park across the road at the beach to avoid paying an entrance fee.”

9. Russian Gulch State Park

Russian Gulch State Park

Location: CA-1, Mendocino, CA 95460

Phone: 707-937-5804

Website: Russian Gulch State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: Russian Gulch Campground

Activities: Camping, hiking, glamping

This one is one of the few parks along the coast with a section of the east forest. Evidence of a significant logging operation over its three miles suggests that a mill was operational here. The Park spans 1,162 acres and has 7,630 feet of ocean beachfront. Many consider the park to be Point Lobos' rival on the north coast due to its rocky headlands that extend into the Pacific.

The state park features breathtaking topography, including windswept headlands, a three-mile-long lush canyon, a dazzling beach, and a 36-foot waterfall that flows into a stand of redwoods at Devil's Punch Bowl. On the northeastern edge of the park, campers can choose between 26 conventional sites, one group site, and four horse sites, all equipped with corrals, staging spaces, and water troughs. But regrettably, camping is only an option during the summer.

“Enjoyed a short hike in the park. There are some good views from the cliff and picnic tables with lots of trees and shade. We went on a weekday and could find parking though I suspect it may be a challenge on weekends as the parking lots are quite small.”

10. Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park

Location: 138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Phone: 530-541-3030

Website: Emerald Bay State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: Eagle Point Campground, Lake Tahoe

Activities: Hiking, biking, camping, water sports

Emerald Bay, located on the lake's western shore and surrounded by a breathtaking mountain backdrop, is Lake Tahoe's crown treasure. Emerald Bay is the ideal location to take in the full sight because of Lake Tahoe's extraordinary clarity and depth, which cause the lake's hues to appear otherworldly. The park may undoubtedly provide some of the best Lake Tahoe views, but if you travel back nearly 150 years, you'll discover that the region offers much more than just a picture. What is a better location there to go on a trek, explore a stone castle, Instagram from a boat excursion, or dive in?

Summertime visitors can rent kayaks to Lake Tahoe's lone island, Fannette Island. Pack your kayak with camping supplies and paddle to the secluded lakefront boat camp on the bay's northern banks for more adventure and seclusion. Kayak Tahoe offers stand-up paddleboards and kayaks for hire on the water. You may also use the bay as a terrific destination once you want to rent a boat at South Shore. For a significant indulgence, reserve a private yacht tour where the captain explains the area's history along the route.

“No expectations prepared us for the view from this unbelievable overlook! There was no other place as amazing during our trip to Napa and Lake Tahoe. This was #1 in terms of beauty and nature. DO NOT MISS IT!”

Camping in California Essentials

Due to its abundance of camping paths and a large amount of space where campers can commune with nature, California is regarded as one of the most well-liked camping destinations in the entire country. Of course, everyone has their perfect camping location in mind. Still, with all of the California camping essentials available to make your trip more enjoyable while spending less, it has never been simpler.

- Campsite Essentials: tent, sleeping bag, table & chair, flashlight, firewood;

- Portable Power Generator: Jackery Solar Generator 1500, Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro

- Camp Cooking Essentials: cooking grill, stove, knife, cutting board, coffee maker, food

- Camping Clothes: water-proof jacket, hiking pants, boots, gloves

- Cleaning Essentials: hand sanitizer, toothbrush, shower kit, suncream, towel

- First Aid Kit: personal medication, bandages, finger splints, eye drops

For more details, see this list of camping must-haves checlist. A portable solar generator is a necessary tool to pack when going camping. A portable solar generator is a great way to guarantee power wherever you need it, even if there is no nearby power grid. Pack plenty of spare batteries; a charger in your emergency kit is also a good idea.

The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 is an excellent solution for outdoor activities like camping and fishing. Its packages contain 4 SolarSaga 100s (simplified versions of 2 SolarSaga 100X) and 1 SolarSaga 100. Whether you're camping for a weekend or a more extended period, the bundle, which was created especially for these kinds of activities, is perfect. 1800 operating watts and a big 1534Wh capacity are features of the Explorer 1500. (3600 peak watts). Three AC Pure Sine Wave outlets, one PD 60W USB-C port, one Quick Charge 3.0 port, one USB-A port, and one 12V car port are also included. It can power up to 85% of the appliances and other significant power consumers in your RV, including microwaves, refrigerators, lights, power tools, and home appliances.

Another option is the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro if you're outside. Because it features an updated solar panel and battery, it is perfect for people who seek the best solar generator. A full charge may be completed in 1.8 hours thanks to four revolutionary SolarSaga 200W solar panels, which are three times faster than Solar Generator 1000. With a quick and straightforward 60-second setup, you can enjoy infinite green power wherever you go. A whole wall charge may be completed in approximately 1.8 hours. Its USB-C and 100W PD ports provide dependable power for requirements like phones, iPad, PCs, and drones. It has many interfaces, including a DC vehicle port, two USB A ports, and three 1000W AC output connectors. 

Series

Bundles

Capability (wh)

Input & Output Ports

Dimension

Outdoorsy

Jackery Solar Generator 1500

Explorer 1500 + SolarSaga 100W

1534Wh

3*AC Pure Sine Wave AC outlets, 1*PD 60W USB-C Port, 1*Quick Charge 3.0 Port, 1*USB-A Port, 1*12V car port

14"L x 10.4"W x 12.7"H

Mini Cooler(60W) 21H, Ice Shaver (700W) 120Mins, Toaster(650W) 130Mins, Microwave Oven(1000W) 68Mins, Electrical Grill(900W) 75Mins, Blender(500W) 130Mins, Coffee Maker(500W) 130Mins, Pressure Cooker(1000W) 90Mins

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro

Explorer 1000 Pro + SolarSaga 80W/200W

1002Wh

2* USB-C, 2* 100W PD ports, 3* 1000W AC output ports, 2* USB A, 1* DC car port

12.5"L x 6.1"W x 9.2"H

Refrigerator(520W) 1.6H, CPAP(10W) 80Times, Coffee Maker(550W) 1.5H, Microwave Oven(700W) 1.2H, TV(60W) 13H, Tower Fan(45W) 17H, Laptop(65W) 9Times, Electric Blanket(55W) 14H, Kettle(850W) 1H

Camping in California Tips

California is one of the most diverse places on Earth, and camping there offers you an unending supply of beautiful things to see and do. California offers activities for everyone, whether they want to go surfing, hiking, wine tasting, taking road trips, or just unwinding and taking in the breathtaking environment. Here are some recommendations for camping in California.  

  • If you're traveling to California by plane and won't have access to a vehicle of your own, renting a campervan is a fantastic choice. Campervans are a flexible and cost-effective alternative between driving a big RV and using a tent for camping.
  • Depending on the campground, amenities at campgrounds in California can vary substantially. Some have basic campsites without running water, while others are fully furnished with showers, restrooms, and a camp store. Make careful to review all of the information and guidelines for the campgrounds before making a reservation.
  • The phrase "June Gloom" refers to the gloomy, overcast sky and colder air that occasionally visit coastal locations towards the end of spring and the beginning of summer. When you're camping, comfort should be your top priority because there isn't a walk-in closet, so don't overpack!
  • Make a reservation without a doubt if you intend to go camping in California during the busy season, the summer, or a holiday weekend, especially if you want to set up camp in a beach campground or a national park.

 

Jackery solar generator for camping in california

Final Thoughts

One of the most stunning states in the United States is California. California's natural beauty comes in various forms because it is one of the most extensive and environmentally diverse states in terms of climate, geography, and topography. Camping by the beach in California will allow you to experience breathtaking sunsets over the water, redwood tree canopies, and hundreds of brilliant desert stars. All alternatives provide excellent camping opportunities in California. You may learn about the best camping in California from this article.

A portable generator can charge large amounts of power and improve outdoor living. The Jackery portable solar generator converts solar energy into electrical power and then stores it for later use. As a backup power source in case your electricity goes out for RVs and campers. Your camping in California will have a consistent and healthy power supply thanks to a solar generator.

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