RV Camping in California Coast
The California coast is in a way like her gorgeous mountains – the higher up (the coast) you travel, the more rugged and majestic the scenic landscape. California is blessed with a diverse abundance of natural resources and camping locales. However, no area in the state, not even Yosemite Valley, can best her Pacific coastline for spectacular vistas and pure camping enjoyment! From the flat sandy beaches around San Diego to the craggy cliffs near Crescent City, State and National Parks plus private campgrounds line her shore. That equals over 1000 miles of coastline—most of that is open to public access.
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The Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast highway (PCH) and/or Highway101 will take you to about any location along the California coast. I remember well how awestruck I was on my first camping trip up the coast. Around every twist and bend of PCH a totally new and different vista unfolds. Campgrounds and parks are very crowded during summer months—so it’s wise to make advance reservations.
The California State Parks web page is a great place for camping information and reservations, as is the National Park Service web site. The Offical California Home Page provides valuable information on touring, events and regional topics throughout the state. Try the California Travel Park Association for private RV park information.
The Southern Coast
On California’s south coast, Dohney State Beach (Dana Point, Ca.) is our favorite choice. Located just west of San Juan Capistrano, Dohney has a wide, sandy beach, a grassy day-use park, and large well-separated campsites. Tents to large motorhomes are welcome. Dana Point Harbor has some very interesting gift shops (and chocolate fudge), and San Juan Capistrano has lovely swallows (when they return). About a fourth of the campsites are beachfront, but reservations are a must to get one. Enjoy Dohney between November and March to avoid the crowds!
The Central Coast
S.P.Up the coast a ways, beautiful Morro Bay State Park is located on Morro Bay – believe it or not. About 15 miles west of San Luis Obispo, the park is just across the road from the Pacific. Old and aromatic eucalyptus trees provide shade at most campsites, but beware of the local Turkey Buzzards! They enjoy roosting in the eucalyptus and offer donations day and night. Morro Bay has an adjoining golf course, a museum and a quaint fishing village. Big ole Morro Rock sets proud and weathered in the bay.
The North Central Coast
Big Basin State Park
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is among our top choices of coastal campgrounds. A very unique park, Big Basin is on highway 9, off of PCH and situated about halfway between Santa Cruz and San Francisco. Although not an ocean front park, it’s grand sequoia trees and large ferns make it a beautiful place to camp and hike. Trails range from easy to difficult. Be advised to watch where you are going. On our last visit, we started on a short easy trail, took a wrong turn somehow and ended up three miles outside the park boundary! We were not prepared for a six-mile hike. Next time, I’ll take along a compass!
The Northern Coast
The Pacific Coast Highway
North of San Francisco is “slow as you go” driving, but the ocean vistas are well worth the time spent. At Smithe Redwoods State Reserve (Leggett, Ca.), highway 1 joins the 101 and moves inland—all the way to Humbolt bay (Eureka, Ca.).
Pam and Benbow Resort
I usually camp at Benbow Valley RV Resort, a private park south of Garberville. Despite the wonderful state parks near by, Benbow is a special place. There is much greenery, great full hookup sites, a small lake and many other amenities. It’s a great place to camp while touring the area. They have a lovely 9-hole golf course and modem-friendly sites! We spoil ourselves here.
A 1000 Miles of Coastline
If you have traveled or camped the California coast, you know how beautiful it is and how great the camping. For those who haven’t, it is a must see and do adventure! I have camped up and down the coast a number of times, yet yearn to go again. There is so very much there to experience. On her 1,000 miles of coast, California’s natural gold mine is free for the taking. Haven’t been? Then, you gotta go!