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Camping sites in California

Hi everyone I'm looking for some camping sites in California it's very kid friendly. Does it have to be just southern California where I live. Central coast, northern California. Thank you very much

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I've never been camping there, but one of my bucket list camping trips with my kids is the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area. I believe the Tuttle Creek Campground is also first come first served, but it appears like it is closed (it might be worth calling as I'm not sure how often they update the website). Hopefully you'll get some other good ideas from some of our other users in the community: @HikingMema @cdever @mepurcell @kgawley59 @hikermor @AshleyMay do any of you have advice?


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks, JohnJ! Will keep those suggestions in mind for our next trip.

The Alabama Hills are indeed special, in Lone Pine, CA,  right next to Whitney Portal.

The Movie Museum and Dow Hotel are pretty much landmarks themselves.

The Alabama Hills were the de facto movie set for hundreds of Hollywood movies in the 20's-40's and still popular (Gladiator, Django Unchained, Tremors, etc, etc, etc)..

However, when I got off the bus in town by the Dow Hotel and walked the 1 or 2 miles to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center to pick up my permit for the JMT, it was already over 100F at about 10Am, mid july.  It is HOT! in summer.

However, drive up to Horseshoe meadows/cotton lakes trail head & campground at 10,000' and the temps drop down into the 60s!

And now, some photos!


REI Member Since 1979

@Kevin1 There are so many...suggest you get a copy of Moon California Camping by Tom Stienstra.

However campgrounds may currently be closed to Covid-19 pandemic concerns

Many campgrounds require reservations.  

For state owned properties...

For federal owned properties

Note that you can can "disperse camp" for free on National Forest and BLM land in many places...regulations vary so check with the appropriate management unit for the area. 

There are also a number of KOA campsites in California

Howdy! Hope you found some great places to camp despite COVID.  I found that Reserve California website has great options for you that are kid-friendly. 

Have a great rest of your season, Kathy


Thinking locally, there's Emma Woods State Beach, mostly RV and a whole bunch of county parks a bit further inland.  The campground on Santa Rosa Island is open, if you want to get offshore....

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I'm down in Southern California as well. I have yet to do much camping locally, but I have gone once or twice in the area and have hiked in some areas with decent camping.

Down by Valley of the Moons in Jacumba there's an offroad trail that takes you to some really amazing campsites in BLM land. <off-topic content removed by moderator> It's really a beautiful area and has some cool caves you can hike and find.

Next is Joshua Tree. If you go to 177 or Amboy Rd there's some dirt roads off the main roads that will take you to some awesome campsites that are also in BLM land. Though the sand in these areas can get deep/soft so I'd recommend a vehicle with 4wd at the least. The great thing is that I have never seen anyone else camping at these spots because most campers are drawn to the crowded areas just North or South of the National Park.