California’s Top 10 Campsites

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Christie Turnbow
On 5 min read

California native, I spent my childhood camping at some of California’s most beautiful campsites. Nothing beats spending a night under the stars wrapped up in a tent by a campfire!

Campsites in California have something for everyone, whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or in the desert.

Angel Island Campground

Look no further if you want jaw-dropping views over downtown San Francisco or the Golden Gate Bridge. Angel Island State Park is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay and offers spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline as well as the Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais.

Tomales Bay

Imagine yourself paddling into remote campgrounds by kayak.

Here’s your chance! Tomales Bay is… well it’s amazing. You must travel by boat to reach the campsites if you want to camp here. This, in my humble opinion adds to the experience.

Are you without a boat? No worries! Blue Water Kayak Marshall can help you get set up.

You will need a tent, some marshmallows, and a good meal (Hipcamp suggests fresh oysters from the nearby Tomales Bay Oyster Company).

Yosemite National Park

Choose from many campsites within Yosemite National Park. Ideal for hikers who are looking to explore the most beautiful spots in the park, or people who just want a peaceful campsite that is surrounded by magnificent wilderness.

Reservations are required for most campgrounds. They fill up quickly, especially between April and September. Book at least 6 months in advance.

You can camp free at certain spots, but you will need to apply for a permit first.

Steep Ravine Cabins & Campground

The Steep Ravine Cabins are a little hidden gem that can be found just across the Golden Gate Bridge. They should be called fairytale cabins. Mount. Just to the north of the city is Tamalpais, a group wooden structures dating back to the 1940s.

These cabins are extremely popular, and it’s not surprising. Reservations for six months in advance usually sell out quickly. Because they are high up on a cliff, each cabin has spectacular ocean views.

Campsite Specifics: Each cabin has a wood stove, picnic tables, benches, sleeping platforms, and an outside barbeque. Although the cabins don’t have electricity or running water, there are primitive toilets, water faucets and firewood nearby. There is also tent camping available.

Lodgepole Campground

You will find the Lodgepole Market, the Kaweah River, and a meadow near the Lodgepole Campground. The campground also has a Nature Center, in case you were not feeling sufficiently centered in nature.

Two miles from the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove, it is a short walk to the home half of the world’s largest and oldest trees.

Moro Campground

Crystal Cove… Sounds intriguing? This beautiful state park is a popular choice for both locals and visitors to Southern California.

Moro Campground, located in Crystal Cove is a water-baby’s paradise. It has waves for surfers as well as an underwater park for divers and snorkelers. There are also tidepools for exploration and beautiful beaches for those who want to just get their tan.

Borrego Palm Canyon Campground

The Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Brightly colored wildflowers can be seen peeking from the desert floor in spring. You can also expect to see traditional desert cacti in the park during other seasons.

However, the best part of the park is at night. After a hard day of hiking, the stars bring back the natural beauty of the desert and give visitors a feeling of calm.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns Campground

Julia Pfeiffer Burns Campground only has two spots but is known for being some of the best camping in California. They are both walk-in so bring your gear. However, they offer stunning views and seclusion of the Big Sur coastline.

Green Valley Campground

If you want to spend a hot day near the water, this campsite is the perfect place. Green Valley, San Diego, has a creek running through the area, as well as some shallow pools nearby. There are also waterfalls that you can splash around in.

You can ride or hike on the nearby trails. Just make sure you start early to avoid too much heat.

Santa Cruz Scorpion Campground

Santa Cruz Island is just over 10% National Park, the remainder is under the Nature Conservancy. Santa Cruz campground can be found on the northeastern side of the island. It is a short walk away from the landing area. You can kayak, camp in solitude, or enjoy the beautiful stars.

Bonus Points: Ventana Big Sur

Ventana Big Sur is a luxury experience that offers a more luxurious experience than glamping. Big Sur, a natural paradise on California’s rugged central coast, is the ideal destination for nature lovers. Ventana Big Sur is a charming getaway located off the Pacific Coast Highway.

Ventana’s Redwoods and Canyon Glampsites are another great option. The Luxury Camping Package includes a private guided hike and a picnic lunch. It also includes a beautiful cabin with luxurious accommodation.

You can have a private oasis in the canyon of 20 acres, light a fire and make s’mores. It is a great place to spend solitary nights away from everything.

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