Los Padres National Forest

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About Los Padres National Forest

Looking for camping in one of the largest National Forests in California? Found it! The Los Padres National Forest provides Southern California and Bay Area campers with a variety of terrain, wildlife, and recreational activities. With 1,257 miles of maintained trails for day-use and extended backpacking opportunities, there is plenty of room for exploration. Los Padres National Forest camping features drastic geographical changes from sea level streams, rivers, and beaches, to almost 9,000 feet in elevation on the Mt. Pinos Ranger District.



Why stick to a single day trip? Setup and stay a while, Los Padres National Forest camping has 62 campgrounds (not campsites, but full campgrounds!) that are perfect for an extended stay. The Los Padres National Forest offers beautiful camping areas that vary from low to high elevation, along the river or into the forest, and primitive or developed options. However, most of the Los Padres National Forest campsites lean toward a more primitive experience.

Campgrounds in Los Padres

Wheeler Gorge Campground

1. Wheeler Gorge Campground

Yep… this is the one that you’re not supposed to tell anyone about. Perhaps, one of Southern California’s best kept secrets, Wheeler Gorge...

A
A: Just remember to byow (bring your own water)
233 Saves
Kirk Creek Campground

2. Kirk Creek Campground

94% Recommend (16 Campers)

“Welcome to ‘post-card land,’ feel free to pitch a tent. ” Kirk Creek Campground offers-up a piece of saline serenity for the outdoor savvy...

Aja
Aja: Listen raccoons. You think you're gonna sneak up up on me? This is not my first time at the rodeo. Don't look at me with your...
226 Saves
Arroyo Seco Campground

3. Arroyo Seco Campground

How do you see your summer playing out? Snorkeling in a rock cove, tubing down a gorge, rock climbing gorge sides? Good news, all this and more can...

Tim
Tim: Hike in two miles to find camping riverside. From there, proceed another mile or so up the canyon, alternating hiking and...
177 Saves
Plaskett Creek Campground

4. Plaskett Creek Campground

100% Recommend (6 Campers)

Plaskett Creek is a campers, surfers, spearfishers, and super-relaxers paradise just across from the largest sandy beach in the Big Sur area, Sand...

A
A: I'm a fan of beaches, and Sand Dollar Beach is pretty dang rad (and directly across from the campground)!
169 Saves
Mono Campground

5. Mono Campground

Looking for some hot springs and epic camping close to Santa Barbara? Head to Mono Campground, where you can hike a short trail into the Little...

Machiko
Machiko: Mono Campground is the closest campground to the Little Caliente Hot Springs.
98 Saves
Bottchers Gap Campground

6. Bottchers Gap Campground

Come take a view into the Ventana Wilderness from Botcher’s Gap Campground. The first-come first served sites are pleasant, rustic, and close to...

Mary
Mary: This place is awesome for getting an early start on a Big Sur weekend when driving from the bay area! We were able to grab a...
86 Saves
Nacimiento Camp Campground

7. Nacimiento Camp Campground

100% Recommend (3 Campers)

Nacimiento campground offers remote camping close to Monterrey and Big Sur. If you're looking to escape the crowded coast, this small campground is...

Tori
Tori: This is a perfect option for peak times in Big Sur, when camp spots is hard to find. There are plenty of camping options...
67 Saves
Escondido Campground

8. Escondido Campground

If you’re thinking about exploring the epic swimming holes and canyons of the Arroyo Seco River, you might want to set up camp at the Escondido...

William
William: I have been to Escondido many times.. Wonderful remote campground. It is on Google Maps so I suggest you look at it there...
53 Saves
Middle Lion Campground

9. Middle Lion Campground

Looking for some stellar mountain views and solitude in Southern California? Head to Middle Lion Campground in the Los Padres National Forest...

Dani
Dani: This is a really nice campground. Lots of trees for shade and there is a hike next to it.
51 Saves
Los Prietos Campground

10. Los Prietos Campground

Grab the skillet honey cause your cooking me dinner at los Prietos Campground! Situated in Los Padres National Forest, with excellent river access...

A
A: A pretty basic campground, but also not as crowded as Paradise and other nearby grounds. Plus there's great river access!
50 Saves
China Camp Campground

11. China Camp Campground

Pardon us, did somebody say Hot Springs? That’s right! China Camp Campground located on the scenic Chews Ridge is right down the road from the...

46 Saves
Pine Mountain Campground

12. Pine Mountain Campground

Time to watch them California Condors soar at the high elevation Pine Mountain Campground. These remote and spacious sites will offer peace and...

Jessica
Jessica: I'm so glad that Rose Valley and Middle Lion campgrounds were packed the weekend we went camping, because that led us to Pine...
39 Saves
Alder Creek Campground

13. Alder Creek Campground

If you are in the market for a lesser known primitive campground head to Alder Creek in the Monterrey Ranger District. The views on the drive up...

36 Saves
Chula Vista Campground

14. Chula Vista Campground

Camp out, chill out, and stargaze at the Chula Vista Campground, located in a welcoming grove of Jeffrey pine. Ample hiking and mountain biking are...

Jason
Jason: I've camped here many times with large groups for decades. No reservations, but we've never had an issue finding a place to set...
33 Saves
Reyes Peak Campground

15. Reyes Peak Campground

Close to Santa Barbara, Reyes Peak Campground is a high mountain escape that offers sweeping views of the Cuyama Badlands and even the Channel...

27 Saves
Hi Mountain Campground

16. Hi Mountain Campground

Lift your spirit up at the Hi Mountain Campground, close to the Santa Lucia and Garcia Wildernesses. Go for a hike, set your hammock up in some...

Julia
Julia: This campground is AWESOME! Fun off roading to get there, very quiet. We've been the only people there multiple times. Make...
26 Saves
Reyes Creek Campground

17. Reyes Creek Campground

Reyes Creek Campground might just be the campground of your dreams. Sites along the creek, ample hiking, the perfect hammock spots, dipping holes,...

Rooney
Rooney: Stayed here 6/17/2016 - 6/19/2016 at Site 17. 30 Sites, most were shaded, they fill up quickly so try to get there early as...
25 Saves
Middle Santa Ynez Campground

18. Middle Santa Ynez Campground

The Middle Santa Ynez Campground, close to Santa Barbara, is an outdoor enthusiast's delight! Spacious sites are placed under the shade of...

22 Saves
Mt. Pinos Campground

19. Mt. Pinos Campground

Calling all of Southern California’s hikers, mountain bikers, and mountain-climber-likers. Mt. Pinos Campground is where it’s at! The scenery is...

22 Saves
Campo Alto Campground

20. Campo Alto Campground

Come chill out in a grove of Jeffrey pine at Campo Alto Campground. Campsites are spacious, the air smells pine-sweet, and you will enjoy...

Jessica
Jessica: Absolutely beautiful and serene! We camped at the beginning of September and it got reallllly cold at night. The bathroom was...
20 Saves
Rock Camp Campground

21. Rock Camp Campground

Looking for some watery wilderness bliss? Rock Camp Campground sits on a creek where you can take a refreshing soak and keep your favorite beer icy...

18 Saves
Cerro Alto Campground

22. Cerro Alto Campground

You haven’t seen the Central Coast until you’ve seen it atop Cerro Alto Peak. The best way to get to this 2,624-foot summit? From Cerro Alto...

K.E.
K.E.: For a small campground you get fairly private sites, miles of hiking trails/Cuesta grade fire roads and a convient drive to the...
18 Saves
Memorial Park Campground

23. Memorial Park Campground

Memorial Park Campground offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of SoCal’s cities into the invigorating mountain air. Campsites are...

14 Saves
Holiday Group Campground

24. Holiday Group Campground

Located at the bottom of a heavily shaded Live Oak canyon just 15 miles from Ojai, Holiday Group Campground offers a relaxing refuge from the...

G
G: * THE PICTURE ON THIS WEBPAGE IS NOT THE HOLIDAY GROUP CAMPGROUND * This campground is functional for a large gathering. There...
14 Saves
Rose Valley Campground

25. Rose Valley Campground

There are adventures to be had at the remote Rose Valley Campground in the Los Padres National Forest. Located at an elevation of 3,450 feet, the...

Dani
Dani: This is a pretty small campground and not much shade or privacy between spots.
14 Saves
Paradise Campground

26. Paradise Campground

Be still my beating heart! Just 18 short miles outside of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean lies Paradise Campground. Nestled softly in an oak...

A
A: The oak trees are gorg and great to throw your tent (or hammock) under.
13 Saves
Ponderosa Campground

27. Ponderosa Campground

Come ponder the view at Ponderosa Campground. Family campsites and a mountain stream, all under the protective canopy of Ponderosa, Pine, Oak,...

K.E.
K.E.: Beautiful campground and chill camphost. This site would be great for late autumn or late winter. I had read yelp reviews...
12 Saves
Davy Brown Campground

28. Davy Brown Campground

Close to Santa Barbara, Davy Brown Campground offers some of the best camping in Los Padres National Forest. Campsites are located along a soothing...

11 Saves
White Oaks Campground

29. White Oaks Campground

Head out on the adventurous Chews Ridge to White Oak Campground. Nearby trails will take you into the Ventana Wilderness, and the developed...

G
G: Closed due to fire as of 11/4/2016.
9 Saves
La Panza Campground

30. La Panza Campground

La Panza Campground is chalk full of opportunities to get your play on in the outdoors. With a close proximity to OHV trails, this spot will keep...

8 Saves
Upper Oso Campground

31. Upper Oso Campground

With Oak trees surrounding, and a seasonal creek that runs through it, Upper Oso Campground is pretty much a Bob Ross painting (if it isn’t...

A
A: This little guy is hidden back in Los Padres, but is worth the trek! Just wait until you get away from all the lights, and you...
8 Saves
Halfmoon Campground

32. Halfmoon Campground

Head on the highways to Half Moon Campground—the dusty dirt highways of the Los Padres National Forest, that is! The campground is a good place for...

7 Saves
American Canyon Seasonal Campground

33. American Canyon Seasonal Campground

The American Canyon Seasonal Campground in Los Padres National Forest is only open August through September; which, to us, means it must be pretty...

7 Saves
Figueroa Campground

34. Figueroa Campground

Springtime at Figueroa Mountain is where it's at! Dust off those flower identification books because these hillsides are known for being jam packed...

Devon
Devon: There was a patch of a few miles of non-paved road, which my Honda Civic survived but if you have a low car I wouldn't suggest...
7 Saves
Valle Vista Campground

35. Valle Vista Campground

Close to Frazier Park, Valle Vista Campground offers spacious and wide open campsites under a pine- and oak-shaded grove. The best thing about...

5 Saves
Colson Canyon Camp

36. Colson Canyon Camp

The aptly named Colson Canyon Camp is located in the scenic Colson Canyon just outside of Santa Maria. This small and quaint camp is first-come,...

5 Saves
Nira Campground

37. Nira Campground

A stay here has the word ‘adventure’ written all over it… no, really. You’ll need an Adventure Pass in order to stay here. Nira Campground is a...

4 Saves
Miranda Pine Campground

38. Miranda Pine Campground

Miranda Pine is looking very fine. Take in the sweeping ridge top vistas of the Cuyama Valley—from up here you’re close enough to Santa Maria but...

4 Saves
Sage Hill Campground

39. Sage Hill Campground

The Pacific isn’t the only aquatic attraction in the Santa Barbara area. Mere steps from the Santa Ynez River, Sage Hill Campground offers a quiet...

Clara
Clara: Sage Hill offers a good/accessible space for larger group events -- more picnic tables and spit barbecues.
4 Saves
Baja Campground

40. Baja Campground

Baja or bust! Baja Campground in the Los Padres National forest, that is. Here you can hang out in a large oak-shaded camp on the banks of Alder...

3 Saves
Buck Spring Campground

41. Buck Spring Campground

Time to get buck wild at Buck Springs Campground. OHV enthusiast abound in this area, and you are far enough out in these primitive campsites that...

3 Saves
Toad Springs Campground

42. Toad Springs Campground

An extremely vast terrain with all types of climates, it’s hard to know just what to expect from Los Padres National Forest. A little research...

3 Saves
Dutchman Campground

43. Dutchman Campground

If you have a hankering to explore the Los Padres National Forest, outside of Frazier Park, grab your high clearance vehicle and head to Dutchman...

3 Saves
Caballo Campground

44. Caballo Campground

If you love flowering cactuses, dusty roads, and epic mountain views, Caballo Campground is at your service! These campsites are out in the thick...

3 Saves
P-Bar Flat Campground

45. P-Bar Flat Campground

P-Bar Flats Campground is a popular camping spot outside of Santa Barbara. To get there is a bit of an adventure as you traverse down dirt roads,...

2 Saves
Chuchupate Campground

46. Chuchupate Campground

Close to Frazier Park, Chuchupate Campground is the perfect spot to mellow out and leave the rat race behind. Ditch the phone and computer—you...

2 Saves
Barrel Springs Campground

47. Barrel Springs Campground

Bates Canyon Campground is car camping at its best. Campsites are nestled in a grove of large oaks and sycamores with fire rings and grills. Get...

2 Saves
Marian Campground

48. Marian Campground

Set up on the ridge of Brush Mountain, Marian Campground offers a small campground with big views. The roads are steep and narrow, so be sure to go...

2 Saves
Friis Campground

49. Friis Campground

If you're down to get dusty, bring your motorbike out here and call Friis Campground you're home for the weekend. Close to a lot of OHV trails,...

2 Saves
McGill Campground

50. McGill Campground

Humming with tranquility, McGill Campground is nestled within the mountainous evergreens of the Los Padres National forest. Treat yourself to a...

2 Saves
Fremont Campground

51. Fremont Campground

Fremont Campground is shady, the good kind of shady--think oak trees as your SPF from the hot summer sun. This cool campground off of California’s...

Kristin
Kristin: BEWARE this is a terrible campground! We were there last weekend and (9/15) it was infested with huge black widows. We saw more...
2 Saves
Aliso Park Campground

52. Aliso Park Campground

Aliso Park Campground offers a good camping option for the equestrian loving adventurers. Located south of New Cuyama, these quaint campsites are...

1 Save
Horseshoe Springs Campground

53. Horseshoe Springs Campground

Traverse down dusty roads and get out into the thick of it at Horseshoe Springs Campground. Once you’re this far out you can either enjoy the...

1 Save
Ballinger Campground

54. Ballinger Campground

Calling all OHV enthusiasts! It’s time to set out on them dusty roads and head to the rustic Ballinger Campground in the Los Padres National...

1 Save
Wagon Flat Campground

55. Wagon Flat Campground

True to the National Forest land’s tagline—‘Land Of Many Uses’—the Los Padres is no exception to this. Wagon Flat Campground is tucked away in the...

1 Save
Brookshire Campground

56. Brookshire Campground

Got solitude? Head to Brookshire Campground and nestle into a grove of spreading oaks if you crave it. These primitive sites are quaint and mellow....

1 Save
Pine Springs Campground

57. Pine Springs Campground

South of Lockwood Valley, Pine Springs campground sits in a pinyon-shaded grove. The area offers hiking and off-roading, while the campsites...

Thorn Meadows Campground

58. Thorn Meadows Campground

Time to get your hiking on at Thorn Meadows Campground. Campsites are placed beneath the shade of Jeffrey pine and offer trailheads that lead into...

Nettle Springs Campground

59. Nettle Springs Campground

An extremely vast terrain with all types of climates, it’s hard to know just what to expect from Los Padres National Forest. A little research...

Greg
Greg: No idea where the main photo on this page was taken, but certainly not at Nettle Springs CG, which is usually bone dry except...
Kings Campground

60. Kings Campground

If you’re looking for dust and dirt and are born to be wild, head to Kings Campground! Campsites are carefully placed among pinyon and chaparral...

Dome Springs Campground

61. Dome Springs Campground

Outside of Frazier Park, the Dome Springs Campground offers camping for the rugged folks out there, with access to the Chumash Wilderness. Dome...

Bates Canyon Campground

62. Bates Canyon Campground

An extremely vast terrain with all types of climates, it’s hard to know just what to expect from Los Padres National Forest. A little research...

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88 Reviews

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Hipcamper Aja

Listen raccoons. You think you're gonna sneak up up on me? This is not my first time at the rodeo. Don't look at me with your cute little faces and turn your heads to the side like we're friends. WE'RE NOT FRIENDS.

I got lucky here once with a walk up site reserved for hikers/bikers, only to find the reason it was open was because of the furry little terrors who lived in the bushes behind it. JOKE WAS ON THEM because we wedged our cooler under the picnic table and then piled rocks on top of it. We still woke up to thieving little paw prints. I swear those stinkers would have climbed into our tent for the Bulleit if not for our dog, who is completely useless at only 3lbs soaking wet, but is a fairly effective coon alarm.

Helpful 8
Helpful 8
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Hipcamper Nick

Raccoons are tenacious and travel in packs here! Store your food very securely here because they run wild. We woke up to sooty black raccoon prints all over our camper, the picnic table, our cooler and everything else we left out.

Helpful 4
Helpful 4
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Hipcamper Sally

Book campsite #22! This was the only site available by a fluke and the ranger said we were lucky to get it because it's the most popular spot. RIGHT on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Second all reviews about the raccoons - they even opened our water!!

Helpful 4
Helpful 4
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Hipcamper Tim

Hike in two miles to find camping riverside. From there, proceed another mile or so up the canyon, alternating hiking and swimming impassable sections until you reach a narrow slot canyon the width of a hallway. Incredible experience, inner tube advised.

Helpful 4
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Hipcamper Courtney

This is a favorite campground of mine. Keep in mind-there is no water so bring your own. Pit toilets only, no showers.

Hipcamper Jessica

I'm so glad that Rose Valley and Middle Lion campgrounds were packed the weekend we went camping, because that led us to Pine Mountain! To get to Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak, you drive up a skinny winding road up the mountain. Beautiful views! Wouldn't recommend driving to the campsite when the sun isn't up. We loved how spacious the camp sites are. Plenty of trees for hammock hanging. Lots of exploring to do around the campground. The only negative thing we experienced was an abundance of flies. It is the outdoors, after all! The bug spray we brought didn't phase them. The only thing that seemed to help was smoking them out by burning pine needles. They probably won't be as bad when it cools down.

Hipcamper K.E.

Beautiful campground and chill camphost. This site would be great for late autumn or late winter. I had read yelp reviews regarding an insect problem at the campground which is sadly true. The flies made it unbearable for one of our guests and they left early. There were dense clouds of flies all day and would only clear once it cooled off at night. Moving around the site or even hiking did not slow them down.

Hipcamper Jason

I've camped here many times with large groups for decades. No reservations, but we've never had an issue finding a place to set up tents. It's a relaxing place with GREAT star gazing. On some weekends with a new moon many astronomers will set up in the parking lot. (We've seen RVs and campers in the parking lot too).

There's one very large camp that's great for groups an multiple smaller camps around the area.

Plenty of trails for mountain biking or hiking. In the winter there's plenty of x-country skiiing.

No fees, but make sure you have your Nat'l Forest Adv Pass!

Hipcamper Jason

I should add that the parking lot is about a 100 yards from the campsites. It feels isolated, but it isn't.

Hipcamper A
A

Just remember to byow (bring your own water)

Hipcamper Ryan

This is one of the sickest campgrounds ever. Good luck finding a spot.

Hipcamper Bryn

Great family spot, especially in the summer. The water feels amazing and it's clear! If you're ambitious, definitely hike to the falls! Either way, keep on the look out for poison oak- it's everywhere.

Hipcamper K.E.

For a small campground you get fairly private sites, miles of hiking trails/Cuesta grade fire roads and a convient drive to the Morro Bay. This campground is located in a canyon and the road hugs a steep drop off into a creek. It's a tight fit for cars and espeically campers & horse trailers. Parts of the road can't support two small cars, so be careful and take the road slow! Great for day hikers.

Hipcamper Kristin

BEWARE this is a terrible campground! We were there last weekend and (9/15) it was infested with huge black widows. We saw more than 10 on the perimeter of our site. There were also nests and baby black widows under our camping table. The bathrooms were out of order and there was one portable bathroom in terrible condition. It looked and smelled like it hadn't been emptied in months.

Hipcamper Rebecca

Had a great weekend at Wheeler Gorge! A few things: Plan to arrive during the day because setting up a tent in the dark here was not ideal. Also, be sure to reserve a campsite further from the entrance (around the 40s) because our site (006) was not as secluded as others we saw as we walked around, beautifully tucked between the trees and away from the main road. Eggs and Potatoes is a great breakfast spot in town about a 10 minute drive away, and if you forget to BYOW, there is a grocery store next door. Wheeler Gorge has fun rocks and a stream to explore and it is definitely a great starter campground (seconded from below!)

Hipcamper Amber

great campground. you dont need to bring to bring any firewood cause you can buy it for cheap there. there are a couple of small trails you can hike and also long trails so its perfect for anyone.

Hipcamper Michelle

Beautiful private sites! My husband and I stayed at site 16. It was elevated above the road with no closeby campsites. The campground is heavily trafficked by day users so it can still feel crowded. Lots of flies and unclean vault toilets, lots of poison oak.

Hipcamper A
A

I'm a fan of beaches, and Sand Dollar Beach is pretty dang rad (and directly across from the campground)!

Hipcamper A
A

A pretty basic campground, but also not as crowded as Paradise and other nearby grounds. Plus there's great river access!

Hipcamper A
A

The oak trees are gorg and great to throw your tent (or hammock) under.

Hipcamper Julia

This campground is AWESOME! Fun off roading to get there, very quiet. We've been the only people there multiple times. Make sure to bring water and extra tp with you. Keep going to the top of the ridge for great Central Coast views!

Hipcamper Bryn

Plan to get there before 8am on a Friday if you want a weekend spot. It's incredibly popular but worth it! But they've got hiker/biker sites that don't fill up quickly if you don't need your car (or park somewhere else). Be sure to hike down to the beach!

Hipcamper Allie

Such a great site for large groups! We reserved the group site and had a blast hiking and swimming.

Hipcamper Dani

This is one of my favorite campgrounds. It is close enough to town and markets that it makes a great starter campground for people. There are some great hikes nearby too.

Hipcamper Steph

Ear plugs if you're a light sleeper (lots of kids and group camp sites can get rowdy). Also, there are fire pits and grills in case that helps dictate what goes on your menu!

Hipcamper Cristina

The hike to last chance falls is fantastic. If you bring rope you can also jump in for a swim and use to rope climb back out (when it's not dried up). Also, you can hike/swim thru the river bed to the canyon, but make sure to bring a floating device.

Hipcamper Jessica

Absolutely beautiful and serene! We camped at the beginning of September and it got reallllly cold at night. The bathroom was clean. We were told by a camp neighbor that we needed a fire permit so we drove down to the Apache fire station to get one for free, but you can also do it online. To our understanding, there is currently a mama & baby bear that frequent the campsite at night so be sure to put ALL food and smelly items up in your car when you go to bed and don't leave your pups outside your tent or RV when she may be cruising for some snacks. Overall a great experience and we are gonna go back for sure.

Hipcamper Mary

This place is awesome for getting an early start on a Big Sur weekend when driving from the bay area! We were able to grab a site last minute on a Friday night in August. The camp host was a great guy, too.

Hipcamper Michael

One of my favorite camp sites. So much to explore. This section of coast is just amazing. Attendant was super nice. Campground was full, but he let me park my motorcycle in the overflow, and camp in the bicycle area.

Hipcamper Jordan

I've never camped at Bottcher's Gap, but it has often been my trailhead for trips deeper into Ventana Wilderness. Larry, the camp manager, is a really nice guy and always has the inside scoop on trail conditions. This is an excellent trailhead for wilderness camping, and the campground also seems very nice. Lots of nice day hikes accessible, including a 4 mile hike to Devil's Peak, which is a great lunch spot. Be on the lookout for poison oak, ticks, and rattlesnakes on the trails.

Hipcamper Rooney

Stayed here 6/17/2016 - 6/19/2016 at Site 17.

30 Sites, most were shaded, they fill up quickly so try to get there early as possible. Some sites were uneven, making it hard to setup the tents. There are a fair amount of bugs so be prepared! There are some hiking trails, all dog friendly. The bathroom was hit or miss, some smelled bad some were fine.

There was a site that played loud music early in the morning (7AM) but most sites were very considerate and nice.

Hipcamper Tori

This is a perfect option for peak times in Big Sur, when camp spots is hard to find. There are plenty of camping options situated right on the cliff, with beautiful views.

If you are up for a challenge, continue up the road all the way to Prewitt Ridge. Very few know about it, and it is one of the most beautiful car camping spots in that area. Four-wheel drive definitely recommended, as the last section of the drive is on a rocky dirt road.

Hipcamper Raul

Camped here the night before a festival at Avila beach. (not the most practical thing to do but i hate over corded campgrounds) As stated by julia this campground has a fun dirt road that requires a little bit of off roading skill. Your prius won't get you up here. When we arrived there were 3 campgrounds taken of the 6 that i counted. They are all somewhat close together. This seem to be a popular hunting campground. The vault toilets were some of the worst i have seen as of late but they are there non the less. There is a hidden spring for water but its a difficult find you are better off packing some in. I camped here 8-13-16 and the weather was pretty warm and dry. didn't use my sleeping bag at all.

Hipcamper sara

Very nice campgrounds on an easily accessible road (we have a low clearance vehicle). Lots of trails and hiking in the area, but be careful for poison oak- it's everywhere. The river is a great temperature- feels amazing and cools you right off (especially with the crazy heat around this area)! We saw some larger groups of friends as well as families.

If you're planning on staying at the car camping campground, do not expect solitude. We parked our car here and hiked up/down the river and found a nice secluded spot to pitch our tent.

You can find images here:
http://tbdtraveler.com/arroyo-seco-gorge.html

Hipcamper G

* THE PICTURE ON THIS WEBPAGE IS NOT THE HOLIDAY GROUP CAMPGROUND * This campground is functional for a large gathering. There are 8 individual picnic tables spread out over a large area. The campground itself is not terribly pretty and is so close to the road you hear a never ending stream of cars and motorcycles going by. Not much to do in the area and zero cell phone reception for a solid 10 mile radius. Also, as of September 2016, there is a fire ban in the area, which really is a drag when you are trying to enjoy being outdoors. No water in the nearby creek either.

Hipcamper Corina Rose

My beau and I wanted to go for a weekend getaway a few weeks back, and seeing as Los Prietos campground was one of the few in Southern California that wasn't completely booked, we snagged ourselves a spot. Despite the dry California conditions, the place was amply shaded with Oaks and proved to be a peaceful respite, away from major highways and zooming cars. The layout is slightly sloping, but each site has *plenty* of room to find a flat area and pitch your tent, leaving lots of space to spare (No late night neighborly eavesdropping here!). During hot indian summer days, the best way to spend time would be to plop yourself into one of the several nearby swimming holes, provided by what's left of the Cachuma River. Worth checking out!

Hipcamper A
A

I'd highly recommend rock jumping in the creek and say hello to the super nice camp hosts!

Hipcamper A
A

This little guy is hidden back in Los Padres, but is worth the trek! Just wait until you get away from all the lights, and you really see the stars...

Hipcamper A
A

I highly recommend you get your swim on at Red Rock Pools (only .5 miles from the trailhead)!

Hipcamper A
A

Check out Falls and Red Rock swimming holes...it's oh so nice on those hot summer days

Hipcamper A
A

Not sure if they're still there, but the camp hosts have epic beards! You should touch them.

Hipcamper A
A

White Rock swimming hole is dope and not too long of a walk from the campground.

Hipcamper A
A

Get your butt in White Rock swimming hole, and when you get back setup camp under the shade of one of the many oak trees.

Hipcamper A
A

There's plenty of firewood to buy here. Also, keep your eye out for deer...they like to hangout from time to time.

Hipcamper Machiko

Mono Campground is the closest campground to the Little Caliente Hot Springs.

Hipcamper A
A

These mountains are no joke! Do the best you can to whittle down your pack to the bare minimum - your back and legs will thank you later.

Hipcamper A
A

Pine Trail Ridge and Sykes Hot Spring trails are the most popular. These are great hikes, but looks elsewhere in the wilderness if you’re looking for seclusion.

Hipcamper A
A

Some of the most rugged land in California, these 10 wilderness areas definitely offer a challenge, but the views and experience are so worth it.

Hipcamper A
A

Check out a list of sights to see here.

Hipcamper Clara

Sage Hill offers a good/accessible space for larger group events -- more picnic tables and spit barbecues.

Hipcamper Bryn

We camped here with my entire 6th grade class one year! I remember spending hours catching frogs in the river - such a fun spot for kids! But, in the late spring when we went, it was hot and there were a lot of bugs so bring repellent!

Hipcamper Greg

No idea where the main photo on this page was taken, but certainly not at Nettle Springs CG, which is usually bone dry except for a small trickle in the sand wash.

Hipcamper Greg

As of 5/2/15, the CG was all but destroyed by hell raisers. Bathroom is a pile of splinters, campsite facilities are destroyed, and it is littered with shotgun shells and trash. Los Padres NF says it is a law enforcement problem. Camp at your own risk!

Hipcamper Dani

This is a pretty small campground and not much shade or privacy between spots.

Hipcamper Dani

This is a really nice campground. Lots of trees for shade and there is a hike next to it.

Hipcamper Crystal

Ditto to Nick's comment about Raccoons. We were awoken by a midnight raid because one of our group left some food out. We shoo'ed them away, but they egged our campsite before they left (not kidding). If your coolers aren't securable, store them in cars.

Hipcamper Crystal

Two more quick tips:
Poison Oak abounds, so keep an eye out, especially if you have bets with you.
Two cars allowed per campsite, but road parking is usually easy to find for extra cars.

Hipcamper Laura

Lovely place right on the ocean! We were able to get a walk-in site on Saturday morning. Just be aware of the campers that will show up throughout the day attempting to claim your spot next. The sites don't have much privacy and be aware of the poison oak!

Hipcamper Devon

There was a patch of a few miles of non-paved road, which my Honda Civic survived but if you have a low car I wouldn't suggest using it. It was really open and you aren't too close to your neighbors. The bathrooms are pretty gnarly. But a beautiful site!

Hipcamper Khanh-Dan

Amazing grounds with gorgeous views. We got site 12, which had a great view but wasn't private at all. Next time we'll definitely try to get one of the more secluded sites along the cliffs. Would love to bring my dog but I'm worried about the poison oak, which is abundant.

Hipcamper Khanh-Dan

Amazing grounds with gorgeous views. We got site 12, which had a great view but wasn't private at all. Next time we'll definitely try to get one of the more secluded sites along the cliffs. Would love to bring my dog but I'm worried about the poison oak, which is abundant.

Hipcamper Khanh-Dan

Amazing grounds with gorgeous views. We got site 12, which had a great view but wasn't private at all. Next time we'll definitely try to get one of the more secluded sites along the cliffs. Would love to bring my dog but I'm worried about the poison oak, which is abundant.

Hipcamper Brooke

As gorgeous as it looks, even in the winter. The sites are beautiful. We stayed at 017 and it had a FANTASTIC view! Had to make reservations nearly 6 months out and didn't meet any raccoons, but we had 2 dogs.

Hipcamper Jesse

Had a great spot next to a creek. The owners of the site sold firewood which came in handy

Hipcamper Shirtless host Steve

Report from your shirtless host on San Simeon State Park

I hope you well have a change to stay @ SS. S.P.. This park is just 5 miles south of Hearst Castle.
Iam here now and I was so surprised that the showers and bathroom were still closed. It been 2 years now I thought they would be open by now. The dump station is still open ( glad for that ). I took a ride to Washburn campground-what a bone jaring experience (on a unpave road)
But the wildlife is an unforgettable experience. The park has foot trails though out the park and breathtakeing beaches.
This park is neat & clean and well taken care of.
I do hate using chemical toilets. That give the park a dumpy and unclean look.
Your shirtless host Steve
Shirtlesshost.blogspot.com

Hipcamper Shirtless host Steve

Report from your shirtless host on the town of Cambria
If you camping any place close to Cambria make this town your # 1 stop off. Cambria has shops and Good food. Fill your gas tank before you get here. Gas is hi.
The board walk on moonstone Beach is about 2 miles long. This is one of the nicest board walks I have seen in long time.
In the relaxed atmosphere you can reconnect, rejuvenate and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The wild and pristine environment make it a joy to walk this trail.
What ever you do don't forget the elephant seals. But remember that the seals are wild. They well defend and be aggressive around there pups.
Take the family camping and see the joy in there face.
Shirtless Host Steve

Hipcamper Shirtless host Steve

Report from your shirtless host about our northern friends @ San Simeon
Our northern friends are here & helping our economy, by spending there vac. here. Thank You.
This is about 2 family.
Witvoet ( wit-Foot ) Mike & Diana
Weatherman. Harold & Diane
Some of the Nice's people I have meet. They are from Bowmanville, Ontario.
1st. They rent a R.V. then start there Vac. Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, San Francisco, Bebble Beach, Monterey, Carmel then SS. S.P. I met them @ Refugio S.B.
They stayed SS. S.P. I hope if you seen them you!! You said HI! But they say that the honey huts didn't smell like honey.
Thank you Canada for letting a few of your best to come down.
Shirtless host Steve
Shirtlesshost.blogspot.com

Hipcamper Ben

Great campground. Incredible views and sunsets. Very clean. No potable water onsite.

Each site is a little different - some have more room for tents, others less. We had a group of 14 and booked several adjacent sites as there were no group sites available.

Hipcamper Tabitha

My boyfriend and I camped here during Valentine's Day weekend with our dogs (a Great Dane and Chihuahua). We came around noon and were the first to get a spot. We liked it! However, if you want a lot of privacy, I wouldn't recommend this campsite, as the campsites are very close to each other. The host was pretty cool - the only thing we had a problem with was both of our dogs got a lot of bites on their stomachs and the inside of their legs. When we asked the camp host about what it could be, he claimed that they were hot spots, that our dogs MUST HAVE done it by themselves, and "nothing here would have bitten them". I called BS. According to our vet, they were fly bites. We were never upset about the bites, just by the attitude.

Hipcamper Jennifer

I camped here a few years ago and had a terrible experience, but it was 4th of July weekend, so maybe that was part of it. On a side note, it is shady and has some decent sites, though not very private. It's also sort of hard to get to - a very windy, narrow, dirt road off the main road.

Hipcamper Jennifer

This is by far my favorite campground in the area. It really is a nice campground with a creek that runs past most of the sites (and usually has some water in it, even in dry years). I'd definitely stay away from the entrance, but any site past number 9 is decent. I don't want to give away my two favorite spots (because then I'll never get them!) but many of their sites can be reserved. The out houses are decent, but there isn't any running water, so bring your own. Most are also somewhat secluded.

Hipcamper ryan

Nice campsite just off a paved road. Lots of sites all separated by lots of trees. Some sites had enough room for group camping and others suited solo campers. It was nice to get somewhere that only had tent campers too. Most of the sites are pretty dusty, most likely due to high traffic. Expect to have dirty shoes!

Hipcamper Nina

Wheeler Gorge is a beautiful place in the Los Padres forest. We were in site 44 and I think 44-46 are the most beautiful sites. The plants, the birds, the night air - everything was beautiful and smelled great. the sites are far from each other, and on a Sunday night the place wasn't crowded at all. The outhouse facilities were very good, and the camp manager was very nice too. Just remember to bring your own water, and be VERY careful with your fires in the dry forest!

Hipcamper Natasha

The hardest campground to get in Big Sur but definitely one of the best. Aim to reserve a campsite 6 months in advance. Best sites are along the buff (outter rim). There is a great mini hike to the beach between Site #10 and #11. Each site has a campring & table. There is a bathroom (not flush) and no running water. Campsites are on the smaller side, but views are worth it!

Be sure to check out Esalen Institute for some late night hot springs and grab pastries from Big Sur Bakery. There aren't very many gas stations (there is two, 40 miles away from each other), so be sure to stay filled up. You wouldn't want to be stuck without gas, especially since there is no phone network.

Hipcamper Toni

Have been camping there for 40yrs. t is a slice of heaven....word of warning though... unless you're an experienced surfer do not attempt surfing off Sand Dollar Beach,.also swimming beware and take care of the riptides ....they can be deadly and have been ......

Hipcamper Aya

This place is heaven on earth for me. Sand Dollar Beach is insanely beautiful, not crowded, and great for surfing and beach picnics. My favorite thing to do when camping at Plaskett Creek is to enjoy my morning coffee and evening beers at the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach. There's a spot where people gather (and an adorable wooden seat), but it's quiet and peaceful and showcases the sunset. It's family and dog-friendly. I've camped there with 15 friends and I've also camped there solo. Definitely book well in advance, as this is a popular spot in Big Sur.

Hipcamper Wandering

Stunning place to reconnect with nature. The drive up there was so beautiful. We were the only people camping at Campo Alto last night so we threw an impromptu concert and sang while playing guitar overlooking the clouds below. The camping spots are well spaced and each have their own charm. The bathrooms were sparse and very clean. I can't wait to return! xx The Wandering Yogis

Hipcamper G

Closed due to fire as of 11/4/2016.

Hipcamper Kayla

This campground is incredible! Enjoy a short sunrise hike to the beach each morning and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the Pacific each night. We were there in late October so the campground was pretty quiet and secluded. It is also a perfect home base for exploring the Big Sur area, so close to numerous state parks, beautiful trails, and miles of ocean views. Highly recommend!!

Hipcamper Max

Make sure you're on the west side of the stream! So lovely here - especially if the water is flowing (early summer) - some amazing swimming holes a mile or two down the road as well.

Hipcamper Max

Like most campsites near LA - try and get here Sun-Thurs and avoid weekends. Its a good ground, lovely views but nothing particularly special.

Hipcamper Guadalupe J

Amazing hike, small campsite which is quiet and nice, some sites are next to main road (can seem like you are putting on a show when people drive by and stare at you). restrooms are clean(ish) but its a hole...

Hipcamper Shalaka

AMAZING - book an off day/off season and you'll get lucky with the walk-on spots! We went Sunday/Monday/Tuesday in late Nov. and daytime weather was perfect and nighttime weather was manageable. Only way to get these if not booking months in advance.

Hipcamper Shalaka

Pack in water! Bring books! This place is so so perfect to just STAY at - hiking trails leave right from the campsite and across the parking lot. Also, 1 corner turn away from the lot is a perfect place to watch the sunset

Hipcamper William

I have been to Escondido many times.. Wonderful remote campground. It is on Google Maps so I suggest you look at it there before going. There is no pond at the campsite. I have stayed there many times but never seen anyone coming to fish or kayak. People come to walk and mountain bike. The trails (opposed to fire road) are often overgrown with poison oak -- at least when I go in the spring. Leather gloves and pruning shears advised , at least for spring, for the lead hiker. Fire trails into the mountains -- you see them in google maps -- are lovely and require no preparation. Also, the road to the camp is closed when it rains. But you can always walk or bike in the 4 mile dirt road.

Hipcamper Kenny

We love Plaskett Creek. its way easier to get a camp spot mid week compared to Kirk Creek. No showers, it can get noisy like a lot of campgrounds. I always carry earplugs and Tequila for that. If you go up the dirt road just south of the campground you will find some dispersed spots.

Hipcamper Kenny

This place has bad views, don't camp here.

History of Los Padres National Forest

In 1898, President William McKinley established the Pine Mountain and Zaca Lake Forest Reserve. It was renamed the Santa Barbara Forest Reserve in 1903 and was eventually combined with the Santa Ynez, San Luis, and Monterey Forest Reserves. President Franklin D. Roosevelt renamed the area the Los Padres National Forest in 1938.