The primitive, hike-in Deer Canyon Campground is a backcountry campground in Crystal Cove State Park, accessible only via a 3-mile uphill hike from the El Moro parking lot. The reward for this trek is a peaceful, secluded campground surrounded by native plants on a canyon ridge with views of the stars and the ocean. It’s hard to find a setting this natural to pitch your tent anywhere else in Orange County. The campground has a vault toilet and picnic tables, but campers must hike in all of their own water and pack out all trash. No pets or campfires are allowed.

Tips for Snagging a Campsite Reservation

  • The five Deer Canyon campsites can be reserved 7 months in advance.
  • Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-800-444-7275.  
  • Although not as popular as the park’s drive-in campground, Deer Canyon Campground does book out for weekends and in summer.
  • When to Go

    Deer Canyon Campground is open year-round, but because of the challenging hike in, you’ll want to monitor the weather and avoid summer heat waves or winter rainstorms when planning a camping trip. Spring is a good time for wildflowers, while winter campers should bring adequate cold-weather gear for nighttime temperatures in the 40s.

    Campsite area
    Tent sites
    0 sites
    Up to guests per site
    Walk to listing
    No wheelchair access
    Toilet available
    Picnic table available


    Offered near the campground.


    Orange County mountain bikers flock to Crystal Cove State Park for single-track riding.


    Hiking is required to access Deer Canyon Campground. The trails leading up to the campground are part Crystal Cove State Park's...Read more

    Horseback riding

    Don't be surprised if you cross paths with a horseback rider on your hike to Deer Canyon Campground—many trails in Crystal Cove...Read more

    Wildlife watching

    Keep an eye out for deer, bobcats, coyotes, quails, roadrunners, and rattlesnakes on your hike into this campground. If you vis...Read more

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    Crystal Cove State Park
    United States
    Phone Number
    (949) 494-3539
    View on Google Maps
    33.567° N, 117.84° W