The best camping near Los Padres National Forest

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Los Padres National Forest adventure.

The best camping near Los Padres National Forest

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Los Padres National Forest adventure.

Camping near Los Padres National Forest

96% (436 reviews)

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Los Padres National Forest adventure.

From beach to mountain, California's second largest forest offers recreation in diverse ecosystems.  

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Community favorites near Los Padres National Forest

Top-rated campgrounds reviewed by the Hipcamp community.

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Top-rated campgrounds near Los Padres National Forest

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Freedog Farms @ Cactus Flower Ranch

16 sites · Lodging, RVs, Tents43 acres · Buellton, CA
When you camp with us it’s a full experience including a tour (upon availability 99% of the time), welcome drink and access to our common area which offers BBQ, wash sink, cold dunk tubs and shady lounge area under our pepper trees (see photos.) That said… Our base site rental fee is $75 for the first person which includes the propane tank and propane fire pit rental. We charge an additional $50 per person after the base site fee. Children under 15 are FREE. We love sharing our property with friends, family, HipCampers and dogs. Our property consists of: 43 rugged/hilly/mountainous acre with numerous flat plateaus and fantastic views. Each plateau has several great spots to car/van/truck camp, pitch a tent or park small trailers and small RVs. Larger RVs/Trailers fit on the front side of our property. SUMMER/FALL: Expect the landscape and views to be golden brown (not green and lush like in a lot of the photos posted which were taken this past winter/spring.) Thank you for your interest in camping with us! We look forward to your potential booking request. We have been doing this for a while now and we absolutely love it. We’ve learned a lot along the way so the following information, I know it’s a lot of info, please read in its entirety so that you get the most out of your stay with us. We chose to offer sites on a PER PERSON PRICING bases rather than a flat rate for each site. This way solo campers have affordable pricing and access to our camp. When you camp with us it’s a full experience including a tour (upon availability 99% of the time), welcome drink and access to our common area which offers BBQ, wash sink, cold dunk tubs and shady lounge area under our pepper trees (see photos.) That said… Our base site rental fee is $75 for the first person which includes the propane tank and propane fire pit rental. We charge an additional $50 per person after the base site fee. Children under 15 are FREE. Our property consists of 43 rugged/hilly/mountainous acres with numerous flat plateaus and fantastic views to pitch a tent or park small trailers and small RVs. Larger RVs/Trailers fit on the front side of our property. SUMMER/FALL: Expect the landscape and views to be golden brown (not green and lush like in a lot of the photos posted which were taken this past winter/spring.) PICKING YOUR CAMPSITE: When we are not sold out we place campers at campsites on a first-come-first-serve basis upon arrival. If we are sold out we will pre-pick your campsite based on where we feel each of our campers will be happiest given their individual camp set up, i.e. Tent, Van, Trailer, RV, and size of the group. All of our sites are spread out with plenty of space for social distancing. DRY CAMPING: All of our sites are DRY camping (no water/electricity.) We provide a picnic table and one umbrella and a propane fire pit with a propane tank. Please bring additional shade structures if you think you’ll need more shade. Our best sites, with little-to-no traffic noise, (and the best views) are on our back property. Best suited for tents, camper vans, trucks, and SMALL trailers or SMALL RVs. There is a semi-steep hill up to our upper property if you're towing a trailer you will need a powerful vehicle to make it up the hill. Sites on our lower property by the common area are easily accessible with views up the hills/mountains but come with some highway noise. We imagine it sounds like waves crashing and call it the "steel river." For your private camp area, please bring your own drinking water, water to wash dishes and if think you'll need: chairs, camp tables, umbrellas or shade structures, trash bags/cans (throw your trash in the dumpster out side our entry gate when you leave. Plan on being fully self-sufficient. Otherwise, feel free to use the common area BBQ, Sink, tables and chairs at the barn until 10 pm. MOST DOGS WELCOMED... WE PROHIBIT UN-neutered aggressive breed dogs. DOGS ARE FREE TO RUN UNLEASHED ALL OVER OUR LAND. The front of our property is all. Fenced. The back property just has barbed wire. ABOUT OUR DOGS: We have one female dog and three male dogs (one of the three is UN-NEUTERED) a 10-year-old yellow lab (Titan-Dan.) A 14-year-old American Dingo (Reno.) 5-year-old Great Pyrenees (Bandit.) And then there is Cannoli a 7-year-old female Great Pyrenees who adopted us we saw her come through the bushes from the neighbors property across the highway… She ran across the highway and jumped the medium and ran up to our gate, she hasn’t left since… COMMON USE AREA: Inside and near the barn include tables, chairs, hammocks, wood fire pit, outdoor propane BBQ and stove, wash sink and outdoor mineral shower, and mineral cold plunge tubs. FIRE SAFETY and PROPANE FIREPITS: We have “very safe” propane firepits and fire extinguishers at every site. Under the right conditions, we will light a real wood fire at the common area by the barn. Feel free to join us in the early evening until 10pm. PORTA-POTTIES: We have porta-potties next to the Barn, the Garden, Running Dog Flats, and the Art Studio. They are pumped clean every Thursday and are generally very lightly used. If you don’t want to use the porta-potties we recommend/encourage you to bring your own camp toilet, bags, and absorbent. WILDLIFE: Our dogs do a great job of fending off the resident bobcat and coyotes on the front portion of our property and by the barn, if they are barking in the night there's a reason. If you end up camping on the front portion of our property and think their barking will affect your sleep, bring earplugs ;-). Drinking-WATER, Dish Washing Water and Shade: All of our sites are dry camping i.e. there is no potable water available. Please bring all your own drinking/dishwashing water. We have a picnic table and 1 umbrella at all the sites. Please bring additional shade i.e. easy up or other shade structures if you think you'll need it. Cold Mineral Dunks and Hot Outdoor Mineral Shower: We have huge aluminum cowboy cold dunk tubs available at what we lovingly/jokingly refer to as our very own “Cactus Flower Beach,” which is not a real beach… It feels like a beach because we’ve decked it out with lounge chairs, a daybed cabana, 150K pounds of sand and tiki-hut umbrellas. It’s fun to hang out there when it’s hot under the shade of the pepper trees. NOTE: The Outdoor Shower screening is a tad see-through. If you are shy, wear a bathing suit. Please limit showers to 3-5 minutes max. Mineral Water Definition: Water from a mineral spring or well (i.e. our well) that contains various minerals, such as salts and sulfur compounds. TRASH: Please pack all your trash out to the large trash bin located at the entrance to our property. Please take your recycling with you. ELECTRICITY and Wi-Fi: We have charging stations in the barn for your computers, phones, etc. Password: HowdyDoody (Accessible in and near the barn common area.) COMMISSARY: We have farm fresh eggs and meats from the pork palace across the street, and other swag i.e Hats for sale in the barn. FEED THE CHICKENS AND GOATS: Please feel free to feed the goats and chickens your vegetable scraps and or bring them a treat they love full heads of cabbage, lettuce, cantaloupe and watermelon. CHILDREN: For safety, children must be always accompanied by an adult! OUR RECOMMENDATIONS for THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU VISIT THE AREA: WINE TASTING We are in the heart of the wine country with a tasting room less than one mile away and/or a few short miles into the bst wine tasting rooms and wineries in Buellton, Solvang, Santa Ynez. Google search some of our favorite: Babcock Winery, Brick Barn, Dierber-Starlane, Folded Hills winery (which is on mile south of us.) BEACHES, HIKING and the brand new ZIP-LINE and ROPES Adventure Course! 15% off Zip-line and Ropes Adventure Course. If your into adventure and not afraid of heights this is a must do while your in our area its a short 5 miles from our camp ground… (If you have a pet with you you can leave your pet in our kennel while you do this adventure.) Google search High Line Adventure in Bulletin and use 15% off code: FREEDOGFARMS15 Book on line open: Thursday - Sunday HIKES: You can hike all over our property (stay within our boundaries i.e. fence lines) , 1. Nojoqui Falls (1.5 miles south of our ranch) 2. Gaviota Wind Caves (6 miles south of our ranch) BEACHES: We are 5-6 minutes from the beach and Gaviota coast line. 1. Gaviota State Beach (6 miles south of our ranch) 2.Tajiguas Beach (15 miles south of our ranch) 3. Jalama Beach County Park (30-minute beautiful windy drive, but well worth it especially if you want to get one of the worlds best burgers at the campground store) RESTAURANTS/DINING: 1. Industrial Eats, Buellton 2. Ramen Kotori, Solvang 3. La Tequila Mexican Restaurant, Buellton (NOTE: They don’t actually serve tequila but the food is GREAT!) 4. Ginos Pizza, Buellton (they will deliver to our gate) 6. Hitching Post, Buellton 7. Trattoria Grappolo, 2 locations: Santa Ynez and Solvang 8. HOOK’d Bar and Grill at Lake Cachuma (20 minutes to the lake) FARM STANDS: 1. Folded Hills Winery and Farm Stand (farm animals to visit as well) (1 mile south of our ranch) 2. The Blueberry Farm (Seasonal Pick your own blueberries stand closes end of September-ish) (1 mile south of our ranch) FUN for KIDS and ADULTS: 1. Ostrich Land USA, Buellton (Feed the Ostriches and Emus) 2. Mendenhall's Museum of Gasoline Pumps & Petroliana, Buelton We look forward to hosting you. Sincerely, Sierra and Darin.
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$75
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99%
(4072)

Cuyama Badlands

29 sites · Lodging, RVs, Tents164 acres · Cuyama, CA
If you've ever wondered what it might be like to camp on the moon, this is it. Completely removed from civilization and surrounded by a barren nature that is alive with the subtle presence of the universe. Seasonally, Spring wildflowers burst across the landscape. Cave paintings of Chumash Indians remind us of those who lived before us. This is where the deer and the antelope play. Our Carrizo Camp is surrounded by the Carrizo Plains National Monument. This is truly a get away from it all camping. That's it. You, the coyotes and your own private moon. Our Songdog Camps are sparsely scattered atop a 200 foot mesa that looks west over a valley offering stunning desert sunsets. Our Ranch House and Glampsites are available on occasion. This is our home but we love to share our life in the outback. We believe it will give you a better appreciation of life's simpler side. This land was sparsely populated by the Chumash Indian and is evident by the numerous cave painting that remain here near the Caliente mountain. In the era of the California Missions, this land was a part of the Spanish land grants. Currently the property is privately owned and is adjacent to large sections of publicly held lands.
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$20
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Camp RainDale

6 sites · Tents30 acres · Santa Paula, CA
There is a road that leads to the site when you enter the gate the road runs between the stream and the mountain there are 4 Camps to choose from so far. Many more on the way and you can ask if you would like to camp somewhere else on the property and we can work it out. The site runs along a flowing stream consisting of paths from camp to stream. There are many trees enclosing the entire camping area.
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$35
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Blue Sky Center

31 sites · Lodging, RVs, Tents267 acres · New Cuyama, CA
1948- On January 1, 1948 a wildcatter named George Hadley, who had been oil prospecting in the valley for 10 years, made the first oil strike in the Cuyama Valley. Richfield Oil Company soon moved in and extracted nearly 300 million barrels of oil in just a few short years. To accommodate an exploding workforce in the early 1950s, the company built the town of New Cuyama, its infrastructure, public buildings, the Cuyama airstrip (L88) and all the industrial structures that are now home to Blue Sky. Richfield Oil Company, later merging with Atlantic Oil Company forming the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company (ARCO), created high-paying jobs, a safe and prosperous community, and developed schools, churches, and recreational areas for the employee-residents.1973- With dwindling production in the area and new discoveries in Alaska, Atlantic-Richfield Oil Company put the town of New Cuyama and its associated infrastructure up for sale. Word of an entire town for sale made its way to entrepreneur, Russell O’Quinn of the Foundation for Airborne Relief (FAR) and Mildred Dotson, a wealthy widow from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two worked together to acquire the townsite and adjacent land. O’Quinn, an aviator, inventor, and test pilot, aspired to use the New Cuyama airstrip and facilities as a base for humanitarian relief and a non-profit trade school. Though not fully realized, FAR’s primary vision included utilizing converted military aircraft to airlift food and medical supplies to developing countries and global disaster areas. Dotson had loftier goals. Her plans included an 18-hole fly-in golf course, expansion of the Buckhorn Restaurant and Motel, and a 40- to 50-acre lake for amphibious landing and water sports. 1986- Another visionary, Harry Kislevitz, inventor of the popular design tool Colorforms® and founder of Future City/Villages International, sought to develop the site as a “City of Friendship,” an all-electric village of 5,000 earthen homes. The dwellings were to be designed by Nader Khalili, an Iranian-born architect who specialized in earthen structures, worked with NASA on prototypes for lunar homes and received an award from the United Nations for his work towards the development of low cost, sustainable structures for human shelter in impoverished and disaster prone environments. One 628-sq-ft Khalili prototype remains on the property today ("the Cantina"). Khalili went on to form the California Institute for Earth Art and Architecture, Cal-Earth, in Hesperia, CA.1993- Recognizing the transformative potential of clean, solar power and the attractiveness of a rural destination, entrepreneur Mike Nolan worked to develop the Solar Skypark and Big Sky Guest Ranch with Santa Barbara Architect, Barry Berkus. The Sky Park included plans for sixty-five fly-in residences on one-acre lots powered completely from clean, solar energy. The Big Sky Guest Ranch was intended to function as a clubhouse for Skypark residents complete with an equestrian center, a small subsistence farm, pool and plenty of enriching recreational activities. 2012- At the end of 2011, the Zannon Family Foundation made a long-term investment in acquiring the New Cuyama Airport property with the vision of rehabilitating the site to be a low-cost resource for programs and organizations working to advance sustainable living practices and technologies. Plans began soon after towards developing a framework and organization to develop the space and coordinate with prospective programs and institutions. In 2014 Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center ("Blue Sky Center") received 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, endeavoring to reclaim this property for the public good. Today, Blue Sky Center provides unduplicated services and technical assistance to support small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as the local food system, with core work focused on community research and advocacy led by Cuyamans. Learn more on our website and consider supporting our community work with your donation or by hosting your next special event here!
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$35
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Lisa S.’s Land

4 sites · Lodging, RVs1 acre · Solvang, CA
This is Glamping at its best! We have two cabins that have kitchens with mini frig, microwaves and sinks. Complimentary coffee and tea as well. Very comfortable queen beds. Each cabin has a living room and table area along with gas fireplaces inside and A/C. Outdoor courtyard area with firepit, picnic tables and string lights to enjoy the days or evenings. Each cabin sleeps two but both can be rented to sleep four. Both cabins are historic to the area.  All of this is in the center of the Santa Ynez valley close to Los Olivos , Santa Ynez and Solvang.Wine tasting, bike riding and hiking. Great restaurants and wineries within walking distance.
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$85
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94%
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Arber-Moore's Ranch

6 sites · RVs, Tents22 acres · Oak View, CA
Beautiful natural campsites in the Valley of the Moon (Ojai Valley). Our sites are within an eighth of a mile of walking, running, biking, and riding trails from Ojai to the beaches of Ventura. On many days you can experience Ojai’s famous pink moments. You can hike the trails above Ojai, boat, eat, or picnic at Lake Casitas. Travel to nearby Ventura to shop, fish the pier, or take a deep sea fishing charter or Island charter to Whale watch or fish around the Channel Islands. Please note the aerial view of the camping area recently placed by Hipcamp is NOT AT ALL REPRESENTATIVE of the current camping sites and shows a photo that is many years old when the site was merely land. That photo is without any of the existing amenities or improvements. The actual sites are all Larger than Federal Park and Statepark guidelines, with averages of 20'x30' for campsites and 20'x40' for a long RVCampsite. We have planted many young trees and continue to plant trees and native shrubs around and near the sites. We have picnic tables, table coverings, fire pits, and camping rugs/footprints. There is also an outdoor shower, a shower tent with hot water, and an upgraded porta-potty with a sink. Note: During times when high heat is predicted, we strongly recommend that our Hipcampers bring pop-up shade tents or canopies for their sites. The Hipcamp is adjacent to our working ranch, and any photos of old sheds, trucks, a wood lot, or other equipment are NOT on the Hipcamp, but you will drive past that property to get to the separate Hipcamp area. Wineries, Farmer's Markets, Craft Breweries, dispensaries, and more are within 10 to 15 minutes of our site. Our location allows moments when you may see Hawks, Owls, Geese, Swallows, Robins, Bluebirds, and more. We offer both tent and RV camping. The Majority of our Guests love it here: "Vivian and Dave were exceptional hosts! Easy to contact and find our way to their property. Also gave us a plethora of places to go and things to do in the Ojai area. The area was open and spacious, and many trees and upgrades were in the works to make future stays more user-friendly. Big pluses were the shower and toilet facilities—much appreciated !!"
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$69
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Leap Lab Farm

1 site · RV, Tent15 acres · Santa Paula, CA
15 acres of land right nestled up against South Mountain, on an ecologically-minded property where we are building a sustainability education center. From your campsite, you'll have a sweeping view of the Topa Topa mountain range, as well as a birds eye view of our community farm. Site has access to a geodesic dome, a funky spot to hang out, meditate, do yoga, or picnic. There is one electric outlet to plug into. Behind the site is South Mountain, where you can scramble, look for fossils from the Sespe range (20 million years old) and enjoy some peace and quiet.
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$70
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(18)

Park At Tar Creeks Ranch

1 site · RV, Tent13 acres · Ojai, CA
Welcome to our tranquil ranch nestled among oak and pine trees, offering a serene getaway with stunning views of the Topatopa bluffs. Our site is the perfect place to disconnect and immerse yourself in nature, with five ephemeral creeks meandering through the 13-acre property. As a Leave No Trace environment, we ask that all guests come fully self-contained. While we don't yet have a compost toilet set up, we do provide a potable water hookup for your convenience. Please be mindful of your impact on the land and practice responsible camping during your stay. There are 4 permanent residents on the land, including me, who are in and out of the ranch daily, and our driveway passes near your campsite. So while you have privacy in the trees, you may have smile-and-wave distance interaction with other humans during your stay. A one-mile trail winds through the property that you are welcome to enjoy. Let me know if you are interested and I will show you were to find the trailhead. The path leads you to fascinating sites such as the caldera of a tar volcano, ancient Chumash cupules and mortars on boulders, and a tar marsh where wildlife thrives. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, botanist, birder, hiker, or simply seeking peace, this land offers something for you. We welcome guests to stay for a maximum of three days, but we're open to accommodating longer stays upon request. Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with the beauty of the natural world. We look forward to hosting you!
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$50
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(473)

Ballard Walnut Grove

2 sites · RVs22 acres · Solvang, CA
We are a 4-generation family-owned and operated working farm, and have lived here since 1976. We are proud growers for Diamond Walnuts, and also have a busy Farm Stand with walnuts and produce, over 500 Christmas Trees, and a small event venue for rent. We love our farm and are happy to open our walnut grove to you and share the bounty and beauty that we have called home for over four decades. Ballard is 2 miles from Solvang, Los Olivos, and Santa Ynez. Our Walnut Grove is nestled in the village of Ballard and in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. Walking distance to two Tasting Rooms (Rideau & Lincourt), a Bakery (Bob's Well Bread), and a Fine-Dining Restaurant (Ballard Inn). Note that the trees lose their leaves in the winter and will leaf-out in late May. We offer 2 sites the Grove: one that accommodates larger RV's with up to 6 people (called "Diamond" - which has a larger area with soft solar lighting, picnic table, fire pit, corn hole, cozy bench for two, complimentary bundle of wood and a tasty treat. (This site also accommodates two RV's -just "add on" in Extras for each night of their stay.) The other smaller space (called "Chandler") is designed for a single RV or conversion van. Sprinkled with lighting, we include a picnic table, campfire pit with 3-4 pieces of split wood (you can add-on additional bundle for $10), Weber BBQ, bistro table and romantic bench swing. We include a treat for both our guests and their doggies. The two sites are 200 yards apart (that's two football fields) assuring your privacy. Please note in your request what you will be traveling in (RV, Trailer, Sprinter, etc). (** Please note that because we are a food-producing farm, we are only allowed to accept fully self-contained units (with built-in water and waste water tanks - sorry, no portable toilets ). No tents unless they are accompanying a self contained RV).
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$85
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100%
(61)

Hazel Homestead -Quiet Coastal Farm

3 sites · Lodging, RVs1 acre · Nipomo, CA
We are a small farm on a 1 acre gated property that has two RV spots and a bar shed. We have full hookups in both sites. Our town is rural but it's still close to HWY 101. We do live on the property, close enough if you need anything but far enough for privacy. We host happy hour for campers who are interested. Although the hours depend on arrival and our availability. We have a common area between the two sites that offered a nice fire pit. Our farm has 3 goats, 2 pot bellied pigs and 20 chickens that lay fresh eggs daily. We LOVE animals but we CANNOT ALLOW PETS. Also, sorry no tent camping. RV's only. We do not provide bathrooms or showers on site. Don’t have an RV? RENT OURS! We have everything you need for your family. Enjoy a weekend on the farm and glamp in our RV. We have all the amenities of home. Coming to enjoy the area? The property is just a few mins off the 101 freeway on the Central Coast. We are only 15 mins South of Pismo Beach, 30 mins south of San Luis Obispo and an hour North of Santa Barbara. The beach, wineries and shopping are all very close. Or if you are looking for a quiet retreat with some super sweet farm animals stay here and enjoy the farm. We do rent both sites out at the same time so if it’s privacy you are looking for please message us. Or If you would like to camp with friends or family we can accommodate two additional trailers. Again please message us to arrange this. Come stay awhile! It doesn't get any better than this!
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$75
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91%
(54)

Rancho de Granville

6 sites · RVs, Tents6 acres · Oak View, CA
Sandy yard, a tent spot with privacy near San Antonio Creek ! Challenge a friend to game of horseshoes or darts. Your neighbors are the friendly horses and the curious chickens! This was the original stage coach stop between Ventura and the small community of Nordoff (Ojai) the old bunkhouse and barn remain!
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$65
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96%
(255)

Harmony's Glamping

10 sites · Lodging90 acres · Mission Canyon, CA
Nestled along a spring fed creek in the beautiful mountains of Santa Barbara. Immerse yourself in the great outdoors while staying cozy in a Yurt, Teepee, or one of our Geo Domes. Each is secluded with a hot shower, propane fire pit, camp kitchen and a comfortable queen bed. Wake up to the sound of the birds chirping and the creek rippling. Hike to our very own 30' ft waterfall where you can take a dip, lay out and catch some sunshine. The trail is rugged so be ready to boulder and use your hands in some places. Our wood burning hot tub is freshly filled every time, and right along the creek for a natural hot/cold plunge experience. We also offer morning yoga, and relaxing massages for a fully rejuvenating experience. Enjoy some nearby experiences all within 30 minutes: -Cold Springs Tavern, historical stagecoach stop, live music and delicious BBQ -Wine Tasting in Solvang or on Stearns Wharf -State Street, Downtown Shopping and Restaurants -Beaches, LedBetter, East Beach, Butterfly, Hendry's Beach (Dog Friendly) -Painted Cave, a cave full of Indian paintings -Hikes, SaddleRock, Lizards Mouth, Hot Springs Please note that a high clearance vehicle is recommended! This is a mountainous bumpy dirt road with steep sharp corners. A regular car can make it, just be warned you may bottom out a couple times. We do have a Jeep Wrangler available for rent on site. ($80 a day) You can add it onto your booking under extras. We are not liable for any damage to you or your vehicle when entering our property, so do so at your own risk. Please feel free to reach out with any further questions. Text or Call: 805-698-8623 IG:@harmonys_glamping
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$150
 / night

The best camping near Los Padres National Forest guide

Overview

About

Spanning 1.75 million acres, and stretching for nearly 220 miles from Big Sur nearly to Los Angeles, Los Padres National Forest encompasses a wide range of elevations and terrain, including beaches, forests, rugged coastal mountains, and ten designated wilderness areas. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, backpacking, biking, horseback riding, off-roading, fishing, and hunting. The park is also a biodiversity hotspot, teeming with wildlife and plant life. More than 60 campgrounds and plenty of space for dispersed camping offer tent campers, RV campers, families, groups, and solitude seekers numerous overnight options.

Notable campgrounds

  • Best for ocean views and beach access: Situated on a bluff just a short distance from a beach, nearly every site at Kirk Creek Campground offers ocean views.
  • Best for stargazing: At 8,300 feet, Chula Vista Campground offers 12 tent-only sites, and dark skies popular with amateur astronomers.
  • Best for water enthusiasts: The Arroyo Seco Campground is set near a small lake and a river that provide opportunities for swimming, fishing, and limited boating.

Tips for snagging a campsite

  1. During the peak summer season, reserve a site as soon as you know your dates. Reservations can be made at least one to three days and up to six months in advance for individual sites and 12 months for group sites.
  2. If you don’t have a reservation, plan to arrive early in the morning to grab a site at a first-come, first-served campground.
  3. Be sure to check seasonal opening and closing dates, which vary by campground.

When to go

Nearly all campgrounds are open between May and October. Summer is the busiest time, and popular campgrounds fill up early, especially on weekends. Spring is the best time for wildflowers, trout fishing, and water sports. After winter snowfalls, cross-country skiing and sledding are possible in certain areas.

Know before you go

  • Wilderness permits are not required for any of the wilderness areas, but campfire permits are outside of designated recreation sites and developed campgrounds. Adventure passes are required for recreation in certain areas of the forest.
  • Bicycles and other mechanized equipment are not permitted in wilderness areas, where travel is restricted to foot, horseback, and wheelchairs.
  • Poison oak and ticks can be a problem in certain areas of the forest.
  • Fishing licenses are required for anglers 16 and older. Special regulations may apply to wild and scenic river areas.

Nearby attractions

  • Discover the beauty of coastal camping at Rincon Parkway. Set up camp along the scenic shoreline, indulge in beach activities, and fall asleep to the soothing sound of ocean waves. Embrace the laid-back atmosphere and create lasting memories in this coastal paradise.

  • Experience coastal camping bliss at Faria Beach Park. Set up camp near sandy shores, enjoy beach activities, and relish breathtaking sunsets. Embrace the laid-back beach lifestyle, listen to the soothing ocean waves, and create unforgettable memories in this beachside paradise. 

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