Has anyone tried to book a campsite in California recently? Reserving a site is way too difficult these days! We are planning a trip for mid October and figured we would have our pick of campsites, let alone campgrounds. You know, being as the weather is turning and kids are back in school. But no, it’s like every single Californian has already beat me to the October punch.
I guess booking a camping trip 45 days in advance is poor planning on my part? Whatever! Isn’t the semi-spontaniety of camping part of the fun? Yes, yes it is. The forward-thinking/planning/booking, outdoorsy types who reserve their sites 6+ months ahead of time are cramping my style! Hey, on the bright side, maybe this means more people are getting outdoors and enjoying the golden state! Whatever, just leave me some room to pitch my tent, campers.
Despite my griping, there is a happy ending. After searching, planning and rearranging schedules, Isaac and I found some availability for mid October. We are splitting our time between Twin Lakes in Mammoth and Upper Pines in Yosemite. It will be the perfect time of year to head to higher grounds and enjoy the crisp air and chilly weather. I am really looking forward to it.
While we’re on the topic of camping, I’ve rounded up my top five favorite California campgrounds. Cali has so many wonderful parks to offer, but these are my current favorites. Disclaimer: we are beach people (if you haven’t noticed) and 4 out of 5 of the sites below are coastal. Check them out on ReserveAmerica.com and maybe you can even manage to reserve a site for Spring of 2015. Sarcasm.
Starting from the South and working our way up the coast…
This one holds a very special place in my heart. Isaac and I camped there (with a group) before we were even a thing. Oh, the memories. It sits on PCH just above Malibu, making it super accessible from Orange County (forgetting about LA traffic, of course). The campground is in a little valley on the other side of PCH from the ocean. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk to the beach and there are two breaks to chose from within walking distance. The surrounding hills are full of trails and peaks to climb. It is our go-to spot for a short weekend trip with friends. Check out Leo Carrillo.
El Capital is situated on one of the more picturesque points of the Cali Coast just north of Santa Barbara. The coastline is absolutely gorgeous. El Capitan campground is on the bluff overlooking the ocean. A short path leads you through the coastal landscape down to the ocean. While some of the sights are within earshot of PCH, it isn’t as noisy as one would think. Santa Barbara is close, so if cooking at the campsite ain’t your thang, you can run into town for meals. Although, never mind. Just cook at your campsite because there isn’t anything quite like cooking over an open flame while enjoying friends, family and wine. Check out El Capitan.
Next stop up the 101 is Jalama. There really is only one reason you would go to Jalama and that is for the surf and/or for your surfing husband. But, even for us non-surfers, it is an awesome spot because of the seclusion. The campground is about 15 miles down Jalama Beach road from highway 101… meaning it is 15 minutes from a major highway and about 45 minutes from a major city. The beach is sandy and great for super long walks. Check out Jalama Beach.
Lower Pines (Yosemite Valley)
Waking up to the scenes of Yosemite is hard to beat. It’s majestic. Lower pines is the only place I have camped in Yosemite Valley. (We’re headed to Upper Pines in October). The campground is at the bottom of the valley near Curry Village. If you haven’t been to Yosemite, you cannot get in your car fast enough. Plan to go, camp and spend your days looking up, down, all around. Highlights include: Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, Nevada Falls and Half Dome (although I have never climbed to the top of the dome, the hike up to the dome is amazing). We were just there in July and I cannot wait for our next visit in October. Check out Lower Pines.
Isaac and I stumbled across this gem on our way to Oregon. We keep saying we will go back, but the fact that it’s over 700 miles from us consistently proves to be a problem. Here’s the deal – coastal redwoods, deer, dramatic cliffs, pacific ocean and sea lions. This places is the stuff dreams are made of. When we do go back, it will be worth every hour of the 12 hour drive. Check out Patrick’s Point.