Friday, November 8, 2013

Campsites in Southern California

lake cachuma camping

Camping sites in Southern California

While camping in California is an amazing experience overall with thousands of picture perfect settings to pitch your tent, camping in SoCal definitely has it's limitations. The primary reasons are....

Camping in SoCal is -

1. crowded (half the population is located in the lower third of the state)
2. dry terrain (minimal rivers, dry seasonal streams, few waterfalls)
3. wildfire prone (with average rainfall of only 10")
4. costly (all developed campgrounds charge fees)
5. not secluded (with suburbia spread into foothills, busy roads nearby)

With the California population nearing 40 million, you will need to do your research in order to find a good, secluded, scenic camping area.

Coastal camp sites are the most popular on the list and you should seek advanced reservation w/ the State Park system. City camping is mostly RV parks and a few county parks. Beyond the neighborhoods, countryside camping in the coastal foothills are limited to a few county parks and State Parks. All these areas mentioned above are also heavily populated, suburban sprawl and highway dense.

So as you can see, this leaves us with the mountains and the deserts. These are the two regions to concentrate your outdoor vacation searches for SoCal. Below are some of Total Escape favorite destinations for camping in the lower portion of the state. Some may be developed campgrounds with fees, some are primitive camps without fees and a few are free camping area.

agua dulce meadow camp, laguna mountains


The snow is minimal, water is scarce, wildfire danger is high, so campfires are usually limited to developed campgrounds only. Mountain locations in southern California range in elevation from 3000' above sea level to towering 11,500' at San Gorgonio Peak, which is the tallest peak in the region.


best desert camping SocalVast miles of tree-less lands in eastern California are considered desert terrain, which sees less than 10 inches of precipitation per year. High deserts (over 2000' elevation) as well as low desserts (under 1000' elevation) with awesome geological formations, open sandy washes, mud caves, slot canyons, indian petroglyphs, giant boulders and wildflowers are just a few of the sites to be seen. Snow is possible in California deserts starting around 4000' elevation. Off road vehicles, 4x4, quad, dirt bike, ATV riding spots are commonly referred to as OHV (off highway vehicle) use areas are plentiful in desert regions.

If you seek free tent camping, private creeks, plenty water, seclusion on dirt back roads with spectacular scenery, alpine lakes with granite mountain peaks - then you must drive north several hours from Southern California - to reach the much more desirable Sierra Nevada range or NorCal mountains.