5 Unique Campgrounds Across California to Add to the Bucket List

Unique Campgrounds Across California. Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Nate Kadlac on Unsplash.

By Kelsey Krahn

Where do you even start with camping adventures in California? The national and state parks stretching across California’s 3531905 square miles jampacked with sand dunes, lakefront bliss, old-growth forests, granite walls, and a sweeping coastline make it tough to choose where to spend a few nights under the stars. Narrow down your choices from the thousands of campsites sprawled across California to five unique places to set up your tent, where you can happily fall asleep to the white noise of trees humming, waves lapping, or wildlife rustling.

 

Our list of unique campgrounds across California:

Ventana Campground

Let’s get things started with a front-country, chilled-out experience that borders the line between glamping and rustic. Ventana Campground is rustic in the way that it’s tent-only, but the amenities mirror a 5-star resort. Expect a canopy of redwood trees to soar above and flank your tent, while the Big Sur Smokehouse gives you a break from cooking hotdogs over a fire and grants a fulfilling meal.

To keep yourself entertained, you can travel along the hiking trails, such as the Coast Ridge Trail, which unveils views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as hikes in the nearby Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Keep in mind that this is a tent-only campground. RVs, camper vans, trucks with roof tents, and tent trailers will not be allowed in. On another note, the Ventana Campground has top-notch washroom facilities, each campsite boasts a picnic table and a fire ring, and you’ll find delis, general stores, and more restaurants nearby.

 

White Tank Campground

Looking for the ultimate place to stargaze? White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park offers incredible starry night sky views, thanks to its unique campground location. This small campground, which allows for 15 groups, works on a first-come, first-serve basis, and if you’re planning on staying in Joshua Tree National Park, you’re going to want to get here early to grab your spot.

Unlike typical shaded campsites, White Tank Campground has you pitching your tent next to boulders jetting high out of desert sand. When the sun dips below the clouds, the wide-open sky plays like a natural big-screen movie with the number of stars glowing and entertaining.

Bring your pets, get ready for cackling campfires, and pack a lot of water as there is no water facility here. There are toilets, though.

If you arrive at a full campsite, consider looking into Cottonwood or Belle, or you can register for a backcountry permit, which is free. And naturally, since you’re already in a national park, you might as well go on some outdoor adventures. You’ll find several unreal hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, such as the short, must-do 1.5-km Hidden Valley Loop or the longer but mild 13.2-km Boy Scouts Trail. A location that was a must for our list of Unique Campgrounds Across California!

White Tank Campground
White Tank Campground. Photo by Sean Pierce on Unsplash.

 

Tuolumne Meadows Campground

Booking a campsite in Yosemite National Park emulates the feeling you get when you spend hours hiking up a steep ascent to the top of a mountain, only to reach a sea of fog. It’s hard to do and disappointing at the same time! If you’re bent on exploring Yosemite National Park—which we all should be at one point in our lives—but are out of luck with booking a campsite, don’t worry! Tuolumne Meadows Campground provides a platform for adventurers eager to access Yosemite National Park.

Don’t expect luxurious amenities, but more so amenities that allow you to stick around Yosemite National Park and bask in its montage of natural wonders. Just a 15-minute drive from the campground, you’ll find the Clouds Rest Trail, a 14.5-mile, half-day hike that’s challenging and rewarding—and I don’t say that lightly.

Tuolumne Meadows Campground is big enough for 304 tents or RVs, seven groups, as well as four sites tailored for horses!

Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows. Photo by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash.

Del Norte Campground

Escape the noise twirling throughout bustling southern California and head to the secluded, undeveloped Channel Islands National Park, which has thrived in isolation for thousands of years, except for the few that travel to these remote wilderness wonders by boat or plane.

The contrast of greenery cloaking the islands making up Channel Islands National Park with the shimmering seascape creates an epic camping setting. And whenever you’re not admiring the views from your campsite, you can experience an explosion of adventures, ranging from hiking, snorkeling, swimming, surfing, kayaking, and the list goes on. For an incredible experience, I suggest checking out Del Norte Campground on Santa Cruz Island. To reach this area, you’ll have to walk 3.5 miles along the Del Norte Trail to pitch your tent at one of the four backcountry spots at this campsite. It’s pure, secluded bliss here! Yet another strong contender for inclusion in the most unique campgrounds across California.

 

Treebones Resort

I started this article by suggesting a campground that sprinkles glamping over rustic vibes, so it only fits that I end this list with the ultimate glamping opportunity: Treebones Resort. The views of Big Sur’s roaring coastline paired with a couple of nights in one of the dolled-up yurts make for a phenomenal experience. You could throw an unforgettable bachelorette party here—or at any of the campsites on this list, really!

If you aren’t in the mood to dish out loads of money for a yurt or the luxurious autonomous tent, you’ll be happy to know that there are bring-your-own-tent sites that grant unreal views of the water stretching into the horizon below. The pricing for this campsite includes access to resort facilities as well as the self-serve breakfast. Be sure to bring your own camp stove or prepare to eat in the on-site restaurant, as fires are prohibited here.

To really amp up the romance of sleeping under the stars, the Treehouse Resort offers a Human Nest! That’s right; you can spend the night with your loved one in a massive bird’s nest-like structure that comes with a charming balcony. What’s better than falling asleep to the lapping of waves and under the stars next to your partner in a human nest? Words just can’t describe it!

 

Other notable campgrounds include Homestake Dry Camp in Death Valley National Park, Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Butte Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The unique campgrounds across California mentioned in this article give just a glimpse of the collection of fantastic places to chill under the stars in the Golden State. And hopefully, this list of campgrounds helps kickstart your research journey of finding a spot that caters to what you want!

 

Content Writer at

Kelsey is a Content Writer at 10Adventures, enjoying frequent globetrotting and adventuring. After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, she began working as a writer in 2017 and fell in love with the lifestyle that travelling and working online provided her.

36 thoughts on “5 Unique Campgrounds Across California to Add to the Bucket List

  • April 26, 2021 at 1:01 pm
    Permalink

    California is so beautiful (and big!), and narrowing down camping spots is so hard. You did a great job, though! White Tank Campground does look like the perfect place to stargaze – what a fun activity to do with the family.

    Reply
  • April 23, 2021 at 11:11 am
    Permalink

    These places are incredibly beautiful! I would love to visit soon 😍

    Reply
  • April 23, 2021 at 8:02 am
    Permalink

    You really are the lucky ones with such great campgrounds around to rush to when one needs a break. In India, we really don’t have the established ones but there are enough places to visit in the hills which you can make your own if you are willing to camp. Tuolumne Meadows Campground looks really just the place I would love to be in. So refreshing.

    Reply
  • April 23, 2021 at 5:46 am
    Permalink

    Those are some really nice camp sites. I like the proximity of Ventana to the delis and shops. It gives me a feeling that you are secluded and yet at the same time, not too far from civilization. In contrast, I even like Del Norte for its proximity to water and the plethora of water sports available. Lovely list

    Reply
  • April 23, 2021 at 3:11 am
    Permalink

    White Tank Campground is the best of all, in my opinion. I hope I can get a space there when we visit the park. The Ventana Campground also sounds cool since it’s only for tent camping. Rarely heard something like this place. But I also want to sleep in a massive bird’s-nest like while looking at the stars.

    Reply
  • April 21, 2021 at 11:50 pm
    Permalink

    I love this! We are in California and have been looking into camping since our kids are so excited about that. I feel like we are definitely lucky that there are so amazing places in our state to do that. We were just recently in Joshua Tree Park and we saw the campground mentioned here, we instantly thought that we must do that someday. It looked so cool!

    Reply
  • April 21, 2021 at 3:19 pm
    Permalink

    I last visited California in 2018. I wanna re visit these places. So many memories!

    Reply
  • April 20, 2021 at 4:30 pm
    Permalink

    Each place looks so beautiful! I would sure love to spend my time at each one!

    Reply
  • April 20, 2021 at 2:08 pm
    Permalink

    These places are awesome! I love campgrounds and wish I could visit these amazing places. I just love camping, especially in inspiring places of nature.

    Reply
  • April 20, 2021 at 1:29 pm
    Permalink

    I had planned to visit White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park this winter for the hike to arch rock and heart rock and never made it out there. This re-motivated me. Big Sur is so gorgeous, renting a yurt in Treebones Resort sounds perfect

    Reply
  • April 20, 2021 at 1:06 pm
    Permalink

    We are not really campers. But I must admit that the wide open skies at the White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park might tempt me. The ultimate clamping experience at Treebones Resort might be more my style. And who can pass on a view of the roaring waves of Big Sur.

    Reply
  • April 20, 2021 at 10:19 am
    Permalink

    Ventana Campground sounds so so awesome. I love the midpoint between rustic camping and glamping. That would be unusual and interesting to experience. I love stargazing and its been ages since I’ve been to a place with the clear night sky filled with stars. White Tank Campground is a place I really really want to go. But just 15 groups? Wow. That required being really really early.

    Reply
  • April 19, 2021 at 11:53 pm
    Permalink

    We love camping in California. Our back yard! We tend to take the RV to off-road areas for our dirtbikes. Gormon, and El mirage are some beautiful desert areas!

    Reply
  • April 19, 2021 at 5:04 pm
    Permalink

    I would definitely check out Tuolumne Meadows Campground because I have always wanted to visit Yosemite National Park.

    Reply
  • April 19, 2021 at 2:31 pm
    Permalink

    I haven’t actually gone camping. When I travel for medical missions, we travel to the mountains, but there’s always a place for us to stay–even a small house where we could hang our hammocks for the night.

    I love going to the mountains. I love waking up and being so near nature. As a city girl, it’s always been quite refreshing for me.

    I’d love to try camping. Also, the weather in California should be very good for camping. Maybe I wont ever get to do it in California, but who knows, right?

    Reply
  • April 19, 2021 at 9:49 am
    Permalink

    Wow! These campgrounds sound amazing! I do love the idea of sleeping under the stars especially if the weather is warm enough. I must say that the human nest is definitely something I’d like to try out in the future.

    Reply
  • April 18, 2021 at 2:34 pm
    Permalink

    I love the view from all those campsites. I wish I could travel soon and experience camping.

    Reply
    • April 18, 2021 at 11:02 pm
      Permalink

      Seriously! Can’t wait for travel to open up again. Camping is the best to experience the beauty of a place.

      Reply
  • April 18, 2021 at 9:23 am
    Permalink

    Your photo of White Tank at night is so gorgeous. I am not so much of a camping person but I would go for an opportunity to experience it myself.

    Reply
    • April 18, 2021 at 11:02 pm
      Permalink

      It’s definitely worth it—and hey, camping at White Tank may turn you into a camping person!

      Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 9:15 pm
    Permalink

    I hope I can do this at least once in my timeline. We seldom visit our relatives in LA so planning it would help. Thanks for the tips! Another option of what to do when we visit again

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:29 pm
      Permalink

      Amazing! I hope you can do it once in your lifetime, too!

      Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 12:40 pm
    Permalink

    The background for every place is breathtaking. Oh to travel to any of these places for a day, I’d feel young again.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:30 pm
      Permalink

      They are so stunning, aren’t they?

      Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 6:38 am
    Permalink

    Nice pics. The Joshua Tree National Park looks like a scene in a movie.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:31 pm
      Permalink

      An epic scene—that’s for sure!

      Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 6:26 am
    Permalink

    They’re all great campgrounds but White Ground has the best pic.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:31 pm
      Permalink

      So, so magical!

      Reply
  • April 16, 2021 at 8:07 pm
    Permalink

    Oh wow!!! I miss camping so much!!! We booked two trips for this year, super excited about it. Love these sites and would love to try them out.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:32 pm
      Permalink

      Woohoo! Can’t wait for you to try them out as well!

      Reply
  • April 16, 2021 at 7:02 pm
    Permalink

    I’m hoping to make it to Yosemite this year to do some camping, so this is a great list! Tuolumne Meadows looks so beautiful, I might just have to give it a try. It’s great to know of campgrounds in Cali outside the ones we all usually hear about!

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:32 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, Tuolumne Meadows is definitely worth the visit! 🙂

      Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:33 pm
      Permalink

      I think you do too! 🙂

      Reply
  • April 16, 2021 at 3:00 pm
    Permalink

    Each place is so unique and beautiful. I would like to spend some time traveling and soaking up these beauties.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 11:33 pm
      Permalink

      Yeah! Imagine the memories created? They would last forever!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: