Yosemite National Park
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

7 of the Most Scenic Campgrounds in California

Home to 840 miles of coastline, 280 state parks, and nine national parks, the Golden State has plenty of picturesque campgrounds on offer. Here are a few of our favorites.

Camping is a great way to get outside and drink in the views. While some campgrounds are located in a dirt parking lot, others offer stunning views with endless outdoor activities at your fingertips.

And as the fourth-largest state in the U.S., California has more to boast than most: 163,695 square miles; hundreds of state parks, state beaches, and state forests; and, according to the LA Times, over 13,000 campsites.

Here are seven California campgrounds that you’ll be dying to write home about. We’ve also included where they are located, as well as must-have info to prepare for your visit.

The Most Scenic Campgrounds in California

Moro Campground, Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park Moro Campground
Moro Campground – Crystal Cove State Park; (photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Located in Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, Moro Campground is perched atop a hill with panoramic views of the ocean. The campground offers options for tents and RVs, and it provides easy access to the coast and the canyon.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Moro Campground also has three primitive hike-in sites: Deer Canyon Campground, Upper Moro Campground, and Lower Moro Campground. These campgrounds are all worthy of a visit, but when it comes to views, the bluff campsites are the best.

Crystal Cove is home to 3.2 miles of coastline, 46 historic beachfront cottages, and 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness, so there is no short supply of outdoor activities available. Laguna Beach is also home to numerous art galleries, shops, and fun restaurants, so a trip into town is definitely worthwhile.

  • Operating season: year-round
  • Number of sites: 32 primitive sites, 27 hookup sites, 30 non-hookup sites, 6 ADA-accessible sites
  • Fee: $25-75/night

Book a Visit

Housekeeping Camp, Yosemite National Park

Housekeeping Camp - Yosemite National Park

A California campground’s list would be incomplete without Yosemite National Park. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to camping in Yosemite, but my family’s favorite has always been the housekeeping camp.

Located in the heart of the Valley alongside the Merced River, the camp offer bare-bones cabins as well as the option to pitch a tent or sleep under the stars. From the campground, there are stellar views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls — the campground is as picturesque as they come.

The central location offers easy access to the free park shuttle, convenience stores, the river, and several hikes. During your time in the Valley, hike to Vernal or Nevada Falls, float down the Merced, or simply sit back and watch the world go by.

  • Operating season: April 8-October 11, 2022
  • Number of sites: 266 units/sites, with ADA available upon request
  • Fee: $100-150/night

Book a Visit

Morro Bay State Park Campground, Morro Bay

Morro Bay State Park Campground - Morro Bay
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Located just outside of San Luis Obispo in central California, Morro Bay is located a stone’s throw from a lagoon and a natural bay. Offering tent and RV camping, the campground offers views of the bay and the iconic Morro Rock.

Popular activities in the region include sailing, fishing, hiking, surfing, and bird watching. One of my favorite things to do in Morro Bay is to explore the mudflats at low tide — lots of fascinating creatures live in the mud, and it’s the perfect spot for a mud fight.

The campground is also home to a museum with exhibits that cover cultural history, Native American life, geology, and oceanography.

  • Operating season: year-round
  • Number of sites: 134 campsites (includes 30 RV hookup and 12 ADA-accessible sites)
  • Fee: $35/night, $50/night for hookups

Book a Visit

Hidden Valley Campground, Joshua Tree National Park

Hidden Valley Campground - Joshua Tree National Park

If you’ve never been to Joshua Tree, be prepared to step into what feels like another planet. The dry desert landscape interspersed with Joshua trees and rugged rock formations is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

Home to 44 sites, Hidden Valley campground is surrounded by oversized boulders and can accommodate both tents and RVs. Joshua Tree is best known for rock climbing, but it also offers incredible hiking, stargazing, and a chance to glimpse the wildflowers blooming in the spring.

If you strike out on scoring a campsite, there is plenty of BLM land right outside of the park on which you can pitch a tent.

  • Operating season: year-round
  • Number of sites: 44 sites (tents and RVs)
  • Fee: first-come, first-serve, $15/night

Book a Visit

Pfeiffer Big Sur, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

One of the most iconic parks in the state, Pfeiffer is a must when visiting Big Sur. Spanning 1,006 acres, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is positioned on the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Tucked away beneath the redwoods, Pfeiffer campground offers hiking, biking, car, and RV campsites as well as one cabin.

The park is home to a wide array of plants and wildlife — common flora and fauna include redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, black-tail deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and birds.

Often referred to as “mini-Yosemite,” the park offers a number of scenic hikes, biking routes, a picturesque waterfall, and ample opportunities for swimming. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful stretches of the California coastline — a visit is a must.

  • Operating season: year-round
  • Number of sites: 189 sites (tents and RVs) and one cabin
  • Fee: $5 for hike-in/bike-in site, $35/night for a standard site, $50/night for hookups
  • Maximum stay: yes, 7 nights max during busy season (30-day cap stay per year)

Book a Visit

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Rippers Cove, Catalina Island

Rippers Cove - Catalina Island
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Located less than 50 miles from Los Angeles, Santa Catalina is part of the Channel Islands. Known for diving, hiking, and fishing, the island offers a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The island has a number of stunning campgrounds available, but Rippers Cove takes the cake. The campground is boat-in only, meaning you either must boat, kayak, or standup paddle to it.

While it may take a little extra legwork to get to, staying at Rippers is well worth the effort, as you’ll be treated to beautiful views and little or no crowd. Should you stay at Rippers, I recommend hiking to the ridge for sunset or sunrise and packing a snorkel mask so you can explore the kelp forest.

  • Operating season: year-round
  • Number of sites: 3 boat-in only sites (meaning you either must boat, kayak, or SUP)
  • Fee: $23/night/person

Book a Visit

Mill Creek Campground, Redwood National Park and State Parks

Mill Creek Campground - Redwood National Park and State Parks

If you’ve yet to rest your head under a canopy of redwoods, then you need to add a visit to Redwoods National Park to your bucket list. Walking through the redwoods is a magical experience, and Mill Creek campground offers an incredible backdrop for camping.

Home to the tallest trees on the planet, Redwood National Park also encompasses 40 miles of coastline as well as prairies, woodlands, and rivers. Offering 145 campsites, the campground hosts tent campers, trailers, and RVs.

Located several miles off the highway, the campground feels far removed from the civilized world and is equal parts beautiful and tranquil. While in the park, be sure and don hiking boots and explore the hundreds of miles of incredible trails on offer.

  • Operating season: May-September
  • Number of sites: 145 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers, and 6 ADA-accessible sites
  • Fee: $7/night hike-in sites, $35/night standard sites

Book a Visit

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