Camping near Goleta

Goleta is your gateway to some of the California Central Coast's best camping.

96% (5557 reviews)
96% (5557 reviews)

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Camping near Goleta guide

Overview

Just west of Santa Barbara, Goleta is a perfect jumping-off point to a Pacific Coast camping adventure. This stretch of California coast has multiple beaches with golden sand, tidepools, surf breaks, and estuaries for marine life like sea lions and harbor seals. Meanwhile, above Goleta in the Santa Ynez Mountains, the sprawling Los Padres National Forest beckons with more remote adventures through forests and up peaks. Hiking, biking, fishing, birding, and horseback riding opportunities abound throughout this region—all a short distance from the relaxed vibe and local amenities of downtown Goleta and Santa Barbara.

Where to go

Beach Parks on Highway 101

Drive west from Goleta and you’ll hit three beach parks in 25 miles along a stunning stretch of Highway 101: El Capitán State Beach, Refugio State Beach, and Gaviota Beach at Gaviota State Park. Each park has a campground for tent and RV camping, as well as day-use access for activities like surfing, hiking, or relaxing on the beach. You can’t go wrong at any of these sites, but highlights include sea kayaking at Refugio, the 10 miles of hiking trails at El Capitán, and Goleta Hot Springs at Gaviota.

Los Padres National Forest

Above Goleta in the Santa Ynez Mountains lies the Los Padres National Forest, a wilderness that spans nearly 2 million acres. Los Padres is snaked with hiking and mountain biking trails, rock climbing sites, waterfalls, and stunning vistas. There are also fishing, hunting, and off-roading opportunities to be found, and close to Goleta, a cluster of Los Padres campgrounds puts visitors below ancient oak trees on the banks of the Santa Ynez River: Fremont, Paradise, Sage Hill, and Los Prietos. All campgrounds feature sites with picnic tables and fire rings.

Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

Cachuma Lake is a 3,600-plus-acre reservoir in the Santa Ynez Valley about 30 minutes north of Goleta. A freshwater oasis during summer heat, Cachuma Lake has a boat launch and kayak rentals, plus its Santa Barbara County-operated Cachuma Lake campground. Campers can choose from tent camping sites, RV sites with full hookups, and glamping options.

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