places/travel The Best Camping Spots in Southern California  

Ranker Travel
86 votes 52 voters 3.8k views 23 items Embed

Are you ready to leave the city and explore the great outdoors? Well you’re in luck, because Southern California has an incredibly diverse terrain, offering everything from beautiful forests and waterfalls, to sandy beaches and vast deserts. In Southern California, you can climb boulders in Joshua Tree one day and swim in the Pacific Ocean the next. 

Home to some of the best camping in the United States, Southern California has a wide array of campgrounds to which you can escape when you need a little time away from the office, and need a little more time outdoors. Whether you enjoy hiking, fishing, rock climbing, or windsurfing, all can be found just a few hours from some of Southern California’s biggest cities.  

Utah has Zion and Colorado has Aspen, but the only place you can find every outdoor sport imaginable is in California - with everything from surfing to skiing, all this and more can be done in the Golden State, and most activities can be found in Southern California. This list explores some of the best Southern California camping and while this list won’t give you any insight on how to set up a tent (see this list of helpful camping hacks for that), it will help transport you to the great outdoors. Click through the list and vote up the campgrounds that are the perfect places to set up a tent, light up a campfire, and cook some s’mores under a starry night sky. 

Newport Dunes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Camping Spots in Southern California
Photo: Picster Jimster/flickr/CC-BY-ND 2.0
13 5

Newport Dunes

Newport Dunes offers some first class camping, California-style. The "resort" offers everything from tent camping to beach cottages. 

Blair Valley Campground Borreg... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Camping Spots in Southern California
Photo: macdevotee/flickr/CC-BY-ND 2.0
4 1

Blair Valley Campground Borrego Springs

Blair Valley Campground Borrego Springs is located in Southeastern California. The campground sits in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California. With over 600,000 acres of camping to choose from, the park is sure to offer something for every desert enthusiast. 

San Onofre State Beach is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Camping Spots in Southern California
Photo: Kansas Sebastian/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

San Onofre State Beach is located in San Diego County, just a few miles south of San Clemente, California. The beach has about 2.5 million visitors per year, and is one of the most-visited state parks in California. 


Also Ranked

#38 on The Best Southern California Beaches

see more on San Onofre State Beach
Idyllwild is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Camping Spots in Southern California
Photo: Roy Ubu/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
4 1


Hidden in the San Jacinto mountains, just west of Palm Springs, lies Idyllwild. With tall pines, cedars, and huge rocks, the campgrounds are perfect for campers who enjoy rock climbing and hiking.