Hipcampers are spoiled for choice in California, where landscapes come supersized.
Golden coasts. Redwood forests. Fiery desert canyons. Alpine lakes framed by snowy peaks. But the best memories are in the details—seeing a gray whale breach off the rugged north coast, feeling the sun on your face on a Southern California shore, or maybe enjoying s’mores beside the crystal waters of Lake Tahoe. Trails climb from campgrounds to immense granite domes in Yosemite while Joshua trees beckon for attention in the eastern deserts. The best part? There’s somewhere amazing to camp year-round.
Camping beneath redwoods—the tallest trees in the world—is a hard-to-beat highlight of the north coast. The majestic groves scattered across Redwood National & State Parks are an excellent choice for first-timers. Further south, from Eureka to Mendocino and eventually San Francisco, you’ll find a string of private and state park campgrounds tucked along rugged coastlines marked by bluffs, coves, dunes, and tidepools.
Stretching from Monterey south to Santa Barbara, the Central Coast scores points for scenery and variety. Plus, it’s a convenient escape from the urban hassles of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Redwoods, waterfalls, and windswept bluffs border Highway 1 in Big Sur, while waves crash beside state parks north of Santa Barbara. For a remote camping experience, campsites at Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Santa Barbara can oblige.
The golden beaches of Southern California are the stuff of lazy days and pop songs. And fantastic camping for those inclined. The best campsites line-up beside the coast between Newport Beach and Dana Point in Orange County, with a few more perched on coastal bluffs north of San Diego. Not surprisingly, these oceanfront sites fill fast, so book early.
For surreal sunsets, striking rock formations, restless sand dunes, and spring wildflowers, head east. Nine campgrounds and plenty more right outside await at Death Valley National Park, home to the lowest spot in the U.S. Joshua trees and picturesque boulders keep Hipcampers happy at Joshua Tree National Park while Anza-Borrego Desert State Park serves up fantastic desert hiking outside San Diego. High season is late fall through spring, when temperatures are pleasant.