Where can you go for state park camping in California? The truth is, you will be spoiled for choice. Great places for both family and individual camping.
It wasn’t called the Golden State for nothing. For an outdoor lover, knowing where to camp in California is a dream come true. This state has some of the most magnificent national parks in the USA, beach camping sites and lovely weather.
It does not matter the type of camping in California that you choose, for there is something for everyone. This diversity of options is something that most other states lack. If you are up for RV camping, beach camping California, tent camping, cabin camping and much more, even high alpine camping.
Popular camping destinations
There are very popular camping destinations in California, you know, the parks where everyone heads to when they can have the time. However, there are also great camping grounds for the lone camper, or for the family that needs a kind of solitary camping vacation to catch up.
So as you pack your camping tent this year, you may want to try the lesser known grounds where you can have all the solitude that you need, and get time to explore the diverse flora and fauna without distractions.
Before you go, try this camping guide for California.
Here are a few of the “unpopular” California camping destinations
Crystal Cove Park – state park camping in California
Measuring about 2048 acres, this is a great park for people who do not like to go too far away from a big town. It is close to Los Angeles and boy, does it have some stunning views! Winter camping in Los Angeles is possible in Crystal Cove N. Park.
It is popular with trailer, RV and tent camping enthusiasts but it will not give you a lot of seclusion because it is always almost booked to the full every season. That it is conveniently located between Laguna and Newport Beaches makes it all the more popular.
Some of the things that you can do in Crystal Cove include hiking some of the awesome trails of different difficulty ratings, horse riding, walking, scuba diving, lazing on the beach and mountain biking. Bring your surfboard too and catch a huge wave, or just go swimming. There are so many things for you to enjoy in the Crystal Cove State Park.
The name (Gold Mountain) is quite a mouthful, you agree, but the park is quite a handful too with a lot of beautiful rugged features to explore. What makes it such a paradise for campers is that it has a little of everything to offer. From beaches to canyons, hills and a 1350-foot high peak called Valencia, this is the ideal place to bring your children. You can laze on the warm sandy beaches the entire vacation time, or you can get your hiking boots on and hit the Valencia trail and go do exercise some leg muscles.
Among some of the things you can do in Montana de Oro Park include biking, hiking, beach volleyball and wildlife watching. Compete to see who will spot the blacktail deer first.
Should you go there for spring camping in California, be ready for an exhilarating sight of wildflowers. For maximum exploration in all weather, do wear layered clothing because the weather in California changes with little or no notice.
Bring your dog, but keep him on a six-foot leash all the time, and you cannot leave him alone in the campsite. Always keep the dog in your vicinity.
Where to camp in California – Angel Island State Park – 38 acres
To access the get your hiking boots on you will have to use a ferry. You can bring your bike too if you would like to do some mountain biking there. Bring your binoculars and see the awesome collection of birdlife that flourishes on this island.
There are sparrows, hawks, pelicans, Canada Geese, kingfishers, egrets, sea gulls, owls and many more, this is the park where you can give junior a lesson in birdlife.
Go hiking on Mt. Caroline Livermore, and challenge yourself with the 790-foot high peak. That should break a sweat from your back, but it is not too tough. You can use other hiking trails with the whole family. Remember to bring your portable water filter because the island is supplied with water from pools and brooks. Do not drink without filtering.
Bring your hiking gear and get your fishing permit for there are all types of fish to try angling for. Striped bass is common, and so is rockfish and lingcod.
Tent camping is common on Angel Island, so bring a family tent if you are taking your family. If you would like to be a maverick and try some of the untested camping areas, go up Mt. Livermore and you will see many suitable, but undocumented sites.
Bring your camping stove and make your meals here. For good measure, do not go during the weekend because Angel Island is usually fully booked. For some serenity and alone time, grab a few days inside the week.
You will love it. Beaches, trails, wildlife … you name it, it is simply amazing.
Patrick’s Point Park
There are 3 camping sites in this park which is located closer to the redwood country which is far north. What is most eye-catching about this park is the rugged coastline. Close by is the city of Trinidad where you can buy all the supplies that you need.
This is a secluded state park and does not get many visitors per year. You should get all the serenity that you desire here. The amenities are very clean and the accommodation is superb.
Some of the activities that you can do in Patrick’s Point include seaside hiking as you listen to the sound of the surf. You can also admire and take photos of the rugged and powerful looking rocks.
For the best clothing, the weather can go gloomy on you anytime, so bring a hiking jacket with you. You might need it.
There are hiking trails, tide pools and great places where you can go see the sea lions and whales in their natural habitat. With just three camping grounds that can hold about 124 families, your children need not feel too secluded.
For your information, the Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge can be seen from the island. Some beach camping would be awesome.
Lassen Volcanic Park
Most people will only take Lassen Volcanic Park camping as a last minute resort, but it is as good as any other for California camping.
One of the things that you will see there include a wonderful lake view and you can have beach camping vacation. You can hit the Devil’s Kitchen trail and see the wonders of geothermal funnels spewing steam. You can also choose to hike a short trail to a small summit called Inspiration Point from where you will get wonderful views of Northern California.
Tighten your hiking shoelaces and head onto Mt. Lassen. It is so beautiful, and from the car park, it is less than 3 miles away. The trail is well maintained and the tall trees keep you sheltered from the sun.
This national park is large with a large diversity of flora and fauna. From Jeffrey Pines, white fir, sugar pine, ponderosa to Manzanita and gooseberry, there are many plants to see. Some of the animals that you can see in this park include raccoons, chipmunks, black bear, mule deer, cougar, coyote, mountain chickadee and others. There is also a lot of birdlife.
In 2016, the park received slightly more than 550,000 visitors. In summer, the park might look a bit crowded but hey, it is large enough for everyone.
You will most likely camp in the Juniper Lake campground or Warner Valley campground, whatever suits you. Call in advance to make a reservation.
Whenever Yosemite is mentioned, one thing that pops to mind is the number of tourists that it must receive every year, for it is indeed a popular park in the USA and the world. However, there is a little hidden jewel of a camping ground about 5 miles away and it does not receive many visitors, thus, it does not require reservations. Just show up!
The track to the camping ground is a bit rough, so perhaps you would need a pickup truck or an off-road vehicle to access it.
Wood and charcoal fires are permitted, so you can cook your food. Bring your dog too but keep him on a leash. A maximum of 6 people are allowed for every camping site. The camping ground is well shaded with trees, so you might want to bring your camping hammock along.
This camping ground is open July through September, so it is more of a summer camping California thing. Bring your water filter too.
These are just six of the best, last minute destinations for state park camping in California. If you do not love large crowds, try them. Some of them are only open in summer, but some are open for all year camping. For camping in California beach, hiking, backpacking and more outdoor fun, try the lesser known places so you can have them to yourself.