When you think of LA, you might envision fabulous nightlife or the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but people flock to California for one primary reason — the gorgeous weather. And because of almost 365 days of sunshine, camping is one of the ideal vacations here in Cali, especially when you need to unplug on a budget. Ok we know there are a few things that can top a camping trip for fun in the sun, but with our guide to the best campgrounds in LA you’ll want to book your next trip in the great outdoors. Are you ready to load up your back frame (that’s RV talk) and head out in search of an adventure? Here’s your ultimate guide to camping in Los Angeles.
1. Los Angeles Area KOA’s
KOA’s are the most well-known camping organization in the United States and perhaps the best places to go camping in LA. Many locations offer full amenities, including bathrooms, showers and sports courts. Some have RV hookups and even offer patios for each parking spot where you can set out your picnic spread in style. If you’re working on the road, you can connect to WiFi in many locations.
You have several locations from which to choose in the Los Angeles area. Here’s a look at your options:
- Ventura Ranch KOA: Features a pool, WiFi, a pavilion and dog park.
- Banning-Stagecoach KOA: Features cable TV, pool and dog park.
- Barstow-Calico KOA: Features a pool, cable TV, bike rentals, WiFi and seasonal pool.
- Palm Springs KOA: Features a year-round pool, hot tub, sauna, mini golf and a dog park.
- Temecula KOA at Vail Lake: Features a pool, mini-golf and dog park with easy access to area wineries for your sipping pleasure.
2. Leo Carrillo State Park
Do you dream of camping on the beach? If so, Lee Carrillo State Park is one of your best bets. This site features tent camping and RV hookups, but make sure to check with the camp host for current availability. Now what if you don’t have a rig but want the convenience of a bed? Just rent one. Leo Carrillo teamed up with Camping Adventures to outfit you with a camper for your stay.
3. Moro Campground
Moro Campground lies within Crystal Cove State Park, making it another ideal camping site for those seeking ocean views. There are 57 family campground sites or you can opt for hike-in camping three to four miles from the parking lot if you want to rough it. But it will be worth it for the coastal views.
4. Red Rock Canyon State Park
As you move inland, Ricardo Campground at Red Rock Canyon State Park lies on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. Although there are no RV hookups…there are vault toilets, tap water, picnic tables and fire rings. Reservations are first-come, first-served for one of the 50 sites, so make sure to stay up to date by visiting their site.
5. Hopkins State Park
Hopkins State Park only allows tent camping, so leave the RV’s at home. It features numerous picnic tables and a cooking center, but campfires are prohibited in certain individual camping locations. Arrival time is 2:00 p.m. and checkout is noon, and call in advance to reserve a site.
6. Dockweiler RV Park
Dockweiler RV Park is L.A. county’s only RV camping resort on the beach. Each campsite has full hookup and the facility has a pump-out station, hot showers and a laundromat. Your site comes with a picnic table and barbecue, and there are volleyball courts and surf fishing nearby.
7. Kenney Grove Park
Kenney Grove Park is nestled among oak trees within the many Ventura area orchards. It features RV hookups and showers. However, it forbids generator use between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., so you might be unable to run your AC.
Things to Remember
Once upon a time, there were few camping restrictions on where you could go or how long you could stay once you set up stakes. So you must follow the rules even if you’re only roughing it (aka boondocking). However, the plus side to planning your camping excursion is the ability to design your desired experience. Are you looking to rough it or hope for a more leisurely, laid-back vacation? The camp ground you choose will depends on what you want.
Even though prices have risen recently, paid campgrounds still cost considerably less than hotels and Airbnbs. You’ll pay about $40 to $80 per night on average, although your costs may increase if you opt for glamping amenities. FYI: we’ve got some great spots to check out here. And the benefits of staying at such a facility might tip the scale in a camping style’s favor. Here’s what were’s talking about:
- Amenities: Most paid campgrounds have toilets, picnic tables and barbecues. Some feature running water, showers, RV hookups, and other recreational facilities like sports courts and equipment rentals.
- Safety: There’s safety in numbers. The crowds at paid campgrounds ensure there’s always someone nearby in an emergency. Furthermore, it’s much easier for first responders to locate and access such areas.
- Glamping: Glamping is a relatively new phenomenon that combines some of the luxuries of a hotel stay with camping. You could spend your vacation in a refurbished vintage Airstream or treehouse with a bathroom and king-sized bed.
But, there are downsides of paying for a campground that you should consider (although this won’t apply to tent campers). Some RV locations will ask you about the age of your rig and even ask you to submit pictures. Unfortunately, nearly one in 500 Americans now call their vehicle their home and some sites seek to preserve aesthetics by restricting “DIY” campers they consider eyesores. So make sure that RV is as chic as it could be.
Are you looking for more sites? We’ve got some more LA camping spots here.