California’s gorgeous environments, not to mention warm, sunny weather, make camping a great activity. California campgrounds offer a variety of services and accommodations. True outdoor enthusiasts will find ample secluded places to pitch their tents, while city folk can hook their RVs into generators and enjoy a dip in the Jacuzzi.
Wows and Woes
It’s hard to beat California’s pristine scenery and diverse landscape. Mountain enthusiasts can enjoy Big Bear or the Sierra Nevada; beach bums will love Gaviota State Park and Emma Wood State Beach; forest travelers will appreciate Sequoia National Forest and Angeles National Forest; and desert dwellers can bask in the sun at Calico Ghost Town and Mojave National Preserve. Though there are ample off-the-beaten trail campsites, many hardcore campers might find it hard to escape tourists and day travelers. Isolation, peace and quiet can be hard to come by, especially when the weather is nice.
Call ahead before traveling to any campsite. The rules vary greatly based on who owns and runs the sites. There are only a few beaches where overnight camping is allowed, campfires are strictly monitored, access to the sites can be limited at night and reservation policies vary greatly, ranging from first come first serve to a two-month waiting list.
Author’s Most Memorable Moment
My best experience was at McGrath State Beach in Ventura County. I had been disappointed that I couldn’t camp on the beach at Emma Wood State Beach because it was first come, first served, and the whole facility was full by 9 a.m. But I found McGrath’s sites large and spread out. The best part was taking a short walk to the ocean and realizing we were practically camping on the beach.
Camping is a wonderful activity in California, just prepare ahead of time for the numerous rules governing these sites and the hordes of people who want to enjoy them.