The Best Campgrounds in Southern California

The Best Campgrounds in Southern California
From the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park to the surf spots and popular beaches, Southern California has a lot going for it. There is much to explore in this region, and camping is a great way to get closer to the area's natural beauty. If you're looking for a great campground in Southern California, some of the best are strewn from the beaches of Malibu to the dramatic inland desert landscapes.

Joshua Tree National Park

Sunset Magazine names Ryan Campground in Joshua Tree National Park as one of the best in all of California. One of nine campgrounds within the park, Ryan campground has 31 sites available for tents, and the nightly fee is just $10, as of early 2010. The sites can fit up to three tents and accommodate up to six people and two cars. All of the sites have picnic tables and fire grates, but there are no showers or bathrooms with running water within the campground, and campers are expected to bring their own wood. You can't reserve a space at Ryan Campground, as all of them are first-come, first-served, so make sure to arrive early to claim your spot. Then, explore the many trails around you, including the one that leads to the peak of Ryan Mountain.

Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Dr.
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277


Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carillo State Park is named as one of the best campgrounds in California by the LA Times. Located 28 miles north of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway, it offers 135 tent-camping sites and a mile and a half of shoreline for swimming, sunning and surfing. All of the sites have fire rings and picnic tables, and most of them are shaded by the park's large sycamore trees. Nature walks, children's programs, and campfire activities are all offered at the visitor center. This campground fills up quickly, so make sure to call early to reserve space for your group of campers.

Leo Carrillo State Park
35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

Carpinteria State Beach

Named by the camping and hiking website as one of the best campgrounds in California, Carpinteria State Beach is located 12 miles south of Santa Barbara just off Highway 101. There are 216 family campsites at this beachfront park, and all of them include picnic tables and fire rings. There are also seven group campgrounds if you're coming with a large number of campers. Some of the sites have full hookups for RVs including water, sewer and electric service, and recreational vehicles of up to 30 feet can be accommodated. The state beach features a mile of shoreline that is perfect for swimming, fishing, exploring or simply relaxing.

Carpinteria State Beach
5361 Sixth St.
Carpinteria, California 93013


Article Written By Ashley Talley

Ashley Talley has been a professional writer for more than 10 years, specializing in travel and health. Her work has been published in "Coastal Living" magazine, "Wrightsville Beach Magazine" and "Choice," an anthology praised by "Vanity Fair" and the "LA Times." She graduated from Brown University with honors and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of North Carolina.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.