Camping in California is the most economical way to enjoy the state.
Whether you're planning a long vacation or just a weekend getaway, camping is always a refreshing break from your daily routine.
The best time to go camping in California is during April, May, September, and October.
All campgrounds are less crowded then, and some of the best weather of the year happens during those months.
Southern California campgrounds are very popular. Avoid the disappointment of arriving at a full campground by reserving your campsite at least 6 months in advance.
Reservations are generally easier to make if you begin camping mid-week. It also helps to have a few campgrounds in mind, in case your first choice isn't available.
If you qualify for any discount (AAA, Senior Citizen, etc.), be sure to ask for it when you make your reservations.
Some US campgrounds don't require reservations. Arrive mid-week or during the off-season to get one of these campsites.
Although some places allow for free RV camping and boon docking, those areas are becoming more rare and hard to find.
Camping in California is a great way to get away from it all; on the beach, on a lake or in the forest. It doesn't get any better than Southern California beach camping.
In Santa Barbara County alone, there are four California State Beaches and two county campgrounds.
These California beach campgrounds allow both tent camping and RV camping on the beach:
In addition to these state and county campgrounds, there are several private campgrounds where you can go camping near the beach. California State Beach camping generally costs less than camping at a private campground.
If you'd rather camp on a lake, visit Cachuma Lake Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County.
Or, camp in the forest along a river in the Los Padres National Forest. There are five Forest Service campgrounds in Santa Barbara County. All are located in Paradise Valley, on the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
There are seven California National Parks in which to camp. Santa Barbara County is home to the most unique one of all: Channel Islands National Park. If you're feeling adventurous and really want to get away from it all, go camping on a deserted island.
Channel Islands National Park has at least one campground on each of its five islands. Backcountry camping is also available on two of the islands. All of the island campsites are for tent camping only.
As you can see, there are plenty of camping sites in California. Follow this link to make your California campground reservations for anywhere in the state.
Every campground has its own rules. Some are more pet-friendly than others. Generally, dogs must be kept on a leash and they aren't allowed in park buildings.
There may be rules against dogs on trails and beaches. If you're traveling with your pet, please check your campsite's pet policy.
Plan to arrive at your campsite before dark. Nothing is worse than being tired after a long day of driving and having to pitch your tent in the dark.
Campsite check-in is any time after 2 pm on your reservation start date.
Check out time is noon on your departure date.
California State Parks limit the number of consecutive nights a camper may stay to 7. Once that limit has been reached, campers must vacate the campground for at least 48 hours.
Campers may stay in the same park for up to 30 nights per year.
Camping fees include entry for 1 vehicle + 1 trailer per campsite.
Each campsite may have a maximum of 2 licensed vehicles.
Camping in California is a memorable vacation for everyone. Even if you've never been camping before, I highly recommend it. There's no better way to enjoy California's natural beauty.
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