From mountain vistas to ocean views, California’s campgrounds offer an endless supply of scenic camping spots for all levels of experience.
With cliff-lined beaches, high mountain ranges, and Redwood forests, California has no shortage of scenic spots to pitch a tent. Whether you set up camp like a pro or have never slept outside, there is something in the Golden State for every kind of camper, in every kind of season. California has some great winter camping spots, but with spring and summer just around the corner, there are even more places to camp. Here are our top picks for exploring the best camping in California.
Yosemite National Park, a place that testifies to the immense power of glaciers and granite rock. The Tuolumne Meadows Campground is northeast of Yosemite Valley on Tioga Road, situated at 8,600 feet. The campground is half reservations-only, and half first-come, first-served, so campers who arrive early enough can secure a spot. The camping is away from the busy Yosemite Valley, but still offers access to the glacial-fed lakes, valleys and meadows of the high Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Unicorn Lake trail leads directly from the campground, and the bus system shuttles hikers to the Tioga Pass Trailhead, Cathedral Lakes Trailhead and other trails in the area. Camping is $26 a night, with tent sites and RV sites without hookups, and the campground is open July through September. Water is available as well as flush toilets. The campground is family-friendly and good for all levels of camping abilities.
Joshua Tree National Park, right beside large granite boulders and the park’s distinctive Joshua trees. With only 15 spots, this campground offers more solitude and quiet than the park’s larger campgrounds and it is first-come, first-served. The campground is open year-round, but the summer is blazing hot, so visit in the spring when wildflowers light up the desert with sparks of color. The Arch Rock Nature Trail is accessible from camp, as are a few bouldering and climbing areas. This is a great camping spot for adventurers looking to explore, or for those seeking desert solitude. It is $15 a night, with pit toilets and no water access.
waterproof jacket because it is a wet coastal environment. Camping is $35 a night, and families, solo campers or adventurers will all enjoy this campground and the variety of trails available.
online to secure a spot.
Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Minaret Falls Campground is open during the summer months, and camping is possible without reservations, since it is first-come, first-served. Water and pit toilets are provided and camping costs $23 a night. Families will enjoy this campground, as will adventurers in need of a basecamp while they explore the creeks and vistas of the area.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, right along the edge of the Caribou Wilderness. Camp at 6,000 feet under the shade of pine trees along the shores of an alpine lake. Adventurers seeking solitude will love this spot, as it is away from the larger campgrounds but still close to several trails. Hike up Cinder Cone, swim in Bathtub Lake, summit Prospect Peak or explore the Painted Dunes. The campground is open June through October, weather permitting, and reservations can be made online. It costs $22 a night, and although RVs are allowed, there are no hookups. Water and flush toilets are not provided.
Sequoia National Park, surrounded by groves of aspen and evergreen trees. Cold Springs Campground is almost two hours away from the main park entrance, along a road so windy that RVs and trailers are not permitted in the campground. Hikers will appreciate access to plenty of day hikes. Camping costs $12 a night with pit toilets, and there is a seasonal water supply. The campground is open during the summer and into the fall. Campsites are first-come, first-served, with tent sites only.