Eight Must-See Camping Destinations in California

Eight Must-See Camping Destinations in California

When it comes to camping in California, there are endless possibilities for adventure. Whether you're looking for a remote, secluded spot or a campground with all the amenities, there's something for everyone in this golden state.

Here are some of the best places to camp in California for an adventurous getaway:

Yosemite National Park 

If you’ve been in a conversation about national parks of the world, chances are you’ve heard about Yosemite. 

Declared a national park in 1890, this iconic national park located in Mariposa County is a must-visit for any camping enthusiast. Millions of adventurers from every corner of the world come to Yosemite every year to see the immense beauty for themselves.

With soaring mountains, rushing waterfalls, and acres of pristine forest land, Yosemite is a nature lover's paradise. There are plenty of campsites available in the park, most of which offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Even more impressive is the fact that Yosemite’s diverse landscape is home to over 400 different species of amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and birds. 

If you’re thinking of visiting Yosemite, the best time of the year to visit Yosemite national park is in May and September. This is because the park isn't too busy and will be likely quite accessible.

Redwood National Parks

If you're looking for a camping experience that feels like you've stepped into another world, look no further than Redwood National Parks.

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, these parks are home to Redwoods, the tallest trees on earth situated amongst a wealth of natural beauty. In fact, this World Heritage Listed national park is home to the three tallest trees in the world! 

You have the opportunity to explore a range of activities within the park, with the pleasant year-round climate friendly to hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and essentially any activity that you can do on the coast. 

Plus you can take a very scenic drive through the seemingly endless network of roads.

Within the park’s rich biodiversity, it is also home to the renowned Roosevelt Elk and tons of other animals. 

Add this to the tons of campsites throughout the entire collections of parks within the Redwood park associations, you’re in for an experience you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon.

Joshua Tree

If you're looking for a bit of a challenge, Joshua Tree National Park is the place to go. This park located in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts is known for its rugged landscape and array of cacti and other desert plants. 

There are dozens of trails located with Joshua Tree that you can hike, bike, and even ride horses to explore to your heart’s content. Due to the beautifully clear night sky, you can set up a tent and gaze at the night sky after a long day of activities. 

What makes Joshua Tree super memorable is the division between two quite different ecosystems of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, which are mainly due to the difference in elevation. 

And for the best news, Joshua Tree possesses a climate that makes it possible to visit all year round, however, we’d recommend going in fall or spring. 

The campsites here, while plentiful, are typically remote, so be prepared for an adventure. 

Big Sur 

California's Central Coast is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and coastal land in the country. The "Redwood Camps" along Big Sur offer camping with a view, as well as hiking trails for exploring this natural landscape.

There’s a reason that this place is so famous for its rock formations and magical coastal views.

It doesn’t really matter what you’re into as an adventurer, there are options for hiking, camping, and any outdoor activities you can think of. It’s also been touted as a fantastic place to take your RV. 

When you’re coming from the hustle and bustle of busy California, the peaceful nature of the area can really serve as a welcome weekend getaway. No matter who you are, there will be something for everyone at Big Sur.

Lake Tahoe

The largest alpine lake in North America offers miles of sparkling blue water, tranquil forests, and crystal clear skies, Lake Tahoe is one of California's most popular destinations. 

Tucked in the Sierra Nevada range, there are several campgrounds around the lake offering numerous activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking, rock-climbing, and more.

It can be difficult to find a location that can offer you everything you’d want out of an outdoor getaway, but Lake Tahoe gets pretty damn close. You can go through mountain trails in Tahoe City, relax on the gorgeous beaches, and go skiing or snowboarding on the Squaw Valley, and a ton more.

Mono Lake 

This incredibly unique destination located near Yosemite National Park offers visitors an opportunity to experience an old-growth forest over 9500 feet tall alongside a vast saltwater lake that supports millions of wildlife creatures like migratory birds and brine shrimp. 

It’s quite famous for being the oldest lake in North America with unusual tufa towers that can reach heights of up to 12 feet. 

Mono Lake also has a campground with a lake view and a chance to view these surreal tufa spires that protrude from the water, which is truly a memorable experience that you’ll remember for many years to come.

Big Bear

Another popular camping destination in California is Big Bear, located near the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest in the heart of Southern California. 

There are several resorts and campgrounds in the area offering biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, and horseback riding amongst stunning natural beauty with a scent of pine following you everywhere you go.

In the wintertime, you can pursue endless winter sports opportunities such as skiing on the slopes of Snow Summit or going bobsledding at the Alpine Slide. 

In the warmer months, you can also get around hiking the Pacific Crest trail, rock climbing at the Onyx Summit, or get amongst the water with activities like fishing, surfing, wakeboarding or even a day trip to Holcomb Valley. 

It’s definitely not one to miss. 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Located near Palm Springs, this desert park offers visitors endless hours of exploration through canyons and mountains while providing an opportunity to spot wild animals like roadrunners and jackrabbits. 

There’s a ton of gorgeous flora to see like springtime wildflowers and some of the country’s most beautiful blooms, such as yellow desert sunflower and purple sand verbena.

The desert landscape at Anza-Borrego often appears like a different planet with its distinctive flora and fauna. There are several campgrounds in the area, most of which provide restrooms, but no showers or hookups.

Of course, you can also find tons of massive metal sculptures of assorted animals littered throughout the entire park. With over 130, you’ll be running into them left, right and center. 

What Are You Waiting For? 

With so many amazing places to camp in California, it can be hard to choose just one destination. These eight locations are a great place to start an unforgettable camping adventure in the Golden State. 

Happy Camping!