Looking to "rough it" locally in the vicinity of Ventura County and surrounding areas? Here's a compilation of local camping facilities run by federal, state and private organizations that may help you make that final push to get off of that sofa and start smelling the fresh air! As you can see, there are literally thousands of campsites available in and within a one hour radius of Ventura County.
There are a number of camping options in the local Santa Monica Mountains, including Leo Carrillo, Point Mugu State Park and Malibu Creek State Park. Booking for California State Parks can be done online at reserveamerica.com at least 2 days in advance and as much as 7 months in advance. Or call 800.444.7275.
Leo Carrillo State Park is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. The Canyon Campground has 135 family sites, each with a table and fire ring. Restrooms, drinking water and coin-operated showers are available. "Hike and Bike" campsites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The group campground at the back of the canyon can accommodate up to 50 people. Peak season is March 1 to November 30 and off-peak is the month of December. Campsite is steps away from 1 1/2 miles of beach with tidepools, coastal caves and reefs to explore. Maximum of 8 people per campsite. Fees as of May 2015 are $10/person for Hike and Bike sites, $45/night for canyon sites and $225/night for the group site. Leo Carrillo books up WAY in advance. Visit ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK to make reservations.
The Big Sycamore Canyon Family Camp is north of PCH, offering 58 tent/RV spaces along with drinking water, restrooms, showers and fire rings. There is also 4 tent spaces available for "Hike and Bike" camper. Pets are allowed on leash in the campground. Fees as of July 2016 are $45/night and $10/night for Hike and Bike spots. Visit ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK to make reservations.
Thornhill Broome Family Camp offers 68 tent/RV spaces with no hookups, but you're talking literally on the beach camping. No flush toilets; just chemical toilets. Cold outside showers. Sites have picnic tables and fire rings. Pets are allowed on leash in the campground. Fees as of July 2016 are $35/night. Visit ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK to make reservations.
La Jolla Valley Hike-In camping accommodates up to 3 tent spaces; no water, no fires. $10 per person, per night, payable at the La Jolla Valley/Ray Miller Trail parking area. There is also a group hike-in spot for 10 to 20 people. There is also a reservable La Jolla Valley Group tent camp for 9 to 50 people available that has drinking water, flush toilets, showers and a fireplace. Fees as of July 2016 are $225/night. This is a walk-in group camp for tents only with parking available for up to 12 vehicles, 25 yards from the campground. Located across from Thornhill Broome.
The Danielson Group Multi-Use Area is located in Sycamore Canyon within Pt Mugu State Park and is available for groups of 10 to 50 people. There is drinking water, flush toilets, showers, tent spaces and fireplace. Pets allowed on leash in campground. It is available for $150/night (July 2016). Contact California State Parks to book the reservation at 805.488.5223 or 805.488.1827.
The Sycamore Group Multi-Use Area accommodates 10 to 25 people and includes drinking water, chemical toilets, tent spaces and fire rings. Pets allowed on leash in campground. It is available for $100/night (as of July 2016). Contact California State Parks to book the reservation at 805.488.5223 or 805.488.1827.
Malibu Creek State Park at 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas offers a family campground with 62 tent/RV spaces, drinking water, restrooms, showers and fire rings. Pets are allowed in the campground (but not in the back country trails). Fees are $45/night as of June 2016. There is also a group campground available for 10 to 60 people at $225/night. Reservations at ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK.
The National Park Service maintains the Circle X Ranch Group Campground is located at 12896 Yerba Buena Road, Malibu. There is only one group campsite located here for tent camping only. Pets on leash are allowed. Drinking water and pit toilets available, along with picnic benches and grills. No electricity. Room for 10 to 75 people. Reserve a spot at www.Recreation.gov at THIS LINK. Cost as of June 2016 is $35/night for 10-25 people, $75/night for 26-50 and $125/night for 51-75. Open year-round. Enjoy hiking up to Sandstone Peak and the Grotto Trail from Circle X Ranch!
Tent camping is available year round on all five islands in Channel Islands National Park in National Park Service-managed campgrounds. Some of them have water. All have tables and vault toilets. There are a total of approximately 70 campsites. Campgrounds on each island are as follows:
- Anacapa Island: Year-round camping. No water. 7 sites.
- Santa Cruz Island East - Scorpion Anchorage Campground open year-round about 1/4 mile from the beach. Water is available here. 25 campsites and 6 group sites.
- Santa Cruz Island Mid - Del Norte Campground at Prisoners Harbor open year-round. Backcountry camp four miles from the harbor. No water. 4 sites.
- San Miguel Island - Above Cuyler Harbor is back country camping open May through October. No water. 9 sites.
- Santa Rosa Island - At Water Canyon March through November. 15 sites. Water available.
- Santa Barbara Island - Above the Landing Cove April through October. No water. 10 sites.
Advance reservations required by calling 877.444.6777 or through Recreation.gov. Currently $15/night fee as of July 2016 for individual campsites. No fires permitted; you can only use enclosed gas stoves. More information at www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
The 1.75 million acre Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) stretches across almost 220 miles from Monterey County through San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern Counties. The Ojai Ranger District of LPNF includes the Matilija Wilderness and part of the Sespe Wilderness. There are five campgrounds in the Ojai portion of LPNF, including reservable Wheeler Gorge Campground and first-come, first-served campgrounds, Middle Lion, Pine Mountain, Reyes Peak and Rose Valley.
Wheeler Gorge Campground in Ojai is open year-round with dozens of available spots for tents and RVs. Parking spurs are paved and vary in length, accommodating RVs up to 35 feet. At the top of the campground is the Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail. Rangers at nearby Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center provide informative tours during summer/fall months. The campground is adjacent to Matilija Creek and is bordered by oak and sycamore trees and evergreen shrubbery. Most sites are shaded and summer temperatures reach up to 95 degrees. Each site is equipped with a table and campfire ring with grill. Accessible vault toilets are provided, but drinking water is not available. Visitors must bring their own water and remove their trash from the campground. Standard rate is $23/night as of May 2015.
Rose Valley Campground in Ojai is located at an elevation of 3,450 feet. It is open year-round. There are nine campsites located in a single loop, each with tables, BBQ grills, and/or fire rings. There is one vault toilet in the campground and another across from the lake. Drinking water is not available, so be sure to bring your own. No reservations taken; first come, first served. Adventure Pass is required to be displayed on car ($5/day or $30/year). Half a mile hike gets you to the Rose Valley Falls. Directions: Take Highway 33 north from Ojai 14.7 miles to mile marker 25.84. Turn right at the Rose Valley Road turnoff and follow the paved road for 3.1 miles. Turn right again at the Rose Valley sign and drive 0.6 miles into the campground.
Middle Lion Campground is surrounded by chaparral covered mountains, shaded by cottonwood trees and is next to a peaceful stream. It has eight first-come, first-served campsites located along a single loop. Tables, barbecue grills and/or fire rings are provided at each site. There is a vault toilet. No drinking water on site; you must bring your own. An Adventure Pass is required to be displayed on car ($5/day or $30/year). Follow Highway 33 north of Ojai for 14.7 miles to the Rose Valley Road turnoff. Turn right and follow the paved road 4.8 miles. Turn right and go 0.8 miles to the campground.
Pine Mountain Campground is nestled in a small valley along the top of Pine Mountain and consists of six campsites in a circle with a large open area in the middle. There are tables, BBQ grills and/or fire rings, and one pit toilet at this campground. Water is not available so be sure to bring your own. The campground is surrounded by moderate hills and is a quiet place for relaxing. At an elevation of 6,650 feet, it offers cooler temperatures on hot summer days. The campground is closed during winter months, through April. Follow Highway 33 to the turnoff at Pine Mountain Summit (mile marker 42.50). Turn right and follow partially paved road another 4.7 miles. Campground will be on the right.
One mile further up from Pine Mountain Campground, at an elevation of 7,000 feet is Reyes Peak Campground. It is situated along the southwest side of a ridge and consists of six campsites, each with a table, BBQ grill and a fire ring. There is one pit toilet located near the first few campsites. No water is available, so be sure to bring your own. Panoramic views! You can see the Cuyama Badlands on one side and the ocean from the other side.
The Lake Casitas Recreation Area located at 11311 Santa Ana Road in Ventura offers over 400 campsites. Sites can accommodate tents, tent trailers, campers and RVs, all with picnic tables and fire rings and some with playgrounds nearby. Book early as campgrounds sell out on weekends from mid-March through September. Casitas Water Adventure is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Make reservations at reservations.casitaswater.org, in person or over the phone at 805.649.1122. Nightly rates range from $25 to $60 per night as of May 2015. Sites are limited to six campers. Lake Casitas is a drinking water supply, so swimming is not allowed in it. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash no longer than six feet long and are not allowed within 50 feet of the lake. Boating on the lake is allowed.
The 60 acre Lake Piru Recreation Area is located on the western shore of Lake Piru, an artificial lake in the Los Padres National Forest. Lake Piru offers 238 tree-shaded campsites, coin-operated hot showers and a store. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and grill top. The dam is owned and operated by the United Water Conservation District of Santa Paula and a third party operates the campsite; visit campone.com/campsites/lake-piru for more information. Boat rentals and fishing available. Fees vary and are listed on the website. Make reservations by calling 805.521.1500.
Other nearby California State Parks with camping are at McGrath State Beach, Emma Wood State Beach, Carpinteria State Beach, El Capitan State Beach, Gaviota State Park and Refugio State Beach as described below.
The McGrath State Beach Campground has 174 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, and restrooms with coin-operated hot showers. A group campsite and a hike-and-bike site are also available. Make reservations by calling (800) 444-7275 or visiting ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK. Dogs allowed on leash. The beach is five miles south of Ventura off Highway 101 via Harbor Boulevard. Available March through December. Cost is $45/night as of April 2015.
Emma Wood State Beach offers camping for self-contained vehicles (e.g. RVs) only (tents not permitted). No water, restrooms, electricity, fire rings, phones or dump stations are available. There are 90 spaces, with a maximum vehicle length of 40 feet, due to small turnaround areas. Camping at Emma Wood State Beach is reservation only from mid-May through Labor Day. Pricing as of April 2015 is $40/night and $280/week.
Four developed group campsites with room for 30 campers are available at Ventura River Group Camp, located two miles south of Emma Wood. Reservations required year-round. There is also primitive RV camping for groups up to 50 people and 20 vehicles. The maximum length for RV is 45 feet. Railroad tracks and Highway 101 are adjacent to the campground and can be noisy. Dogs on leash are allowed on campground but not on the beach. Chemical toilets available, as are cold showers. Reserve spots by visiting ReserveAmerica.com at this link.
El Capitán State Beach is located off Highway 101, 17 miles west of Santa Barbara at Exit 117. A sandy beach, rocky tidepools, and stands of sycamore and oaks along El Capitán Creek. It’s a perfect setting for swimming, fishing, surfing, picnicking and camping. A 132-site campground is open year-round. A short walk takes you to the beach. Each site has a picnic table and stove or fire ring; restrooms with hot showers are nearby. Several sites are paved for RVs only. Some sites accommodate trailers and RVs up to 42 feet in length. Five group campsites, accommodating 40-100 people, are available. Reserve spots by visiting ReserveAmerica.com at this link. Hike and bike campsites are also available. Dogs allowed on leash but not on the beach.
Gaviota State Park is located about 33 miles west of Santa Barbara on Gaviota Beach Road. Gaviota is popular for swimming, picnicking and surf fishing. This section of the coast was first called "gaviota" (seagull) by soldiers of the Portola Expedition in 1769. A pier on the west end of the beach is used by divers and surfers. A six mile trek up to Gaviota Peak offers a view of the coast and the Channel Islands. There are 41 developed, first-come, first-served campsites available at Gaviota that can accomodate tents, trailers up to 25 feet and RVs up to 27 feet. Between October 1 and March 31, the campground is open Friday through Sunday only. Dogs on leash allowed, but not on the beach. Reserve spots by visiting ReserveAmerica.com at this link.
Refugio State Beach is located at 10 Refugio Beach Road in Goleta, about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara. Refugio offers coastal fishing, trails, picnic sites. and palm trees. There are over 60 campsites available by visiting ReserveAmerica.com at this link. Eight camper maximum per campsite. Dogs on leash allowed, but not on the beach.
The County of Ventura maintains campsites at Camp Comfort and Dennison Park in Ojai, Foster Park in Ventura, Kenney Grove Park in Fillmore, Oak Park in Simi Valley, Steckel Park in Santa Paula, Tapo Canyon, Simi Valley and Toland Park, Santa Paula. To make reservations, visit www.venturaparks.org or call 805.654.3951 for more information. Maximum stay in Ventura County parks is 14 nights per ordinance.
Camp Comfort is located about a mile from Downtown Ojai at 11969 North Creek Road, Ojai. Hwy 33, S.E. on Hermosa Road. San Antonio Creek runs through this tree-lined park. Individual and group campsites are available online at www.venturaparks.org. There are 15 campsites. There are restrooms, drinking water, a playground, picnic tables, BBQs and fire rings. There are also showers, full hook-ups and laundry available. Dogs are allowed on up to 6 foot leach for a $1/night fee (2 dog maximum).
Dennison Park is located at 7250 Santa Paula-Ojai Road in Ojai. On Hwy 150, south of Nordhoff Road. This is a quite park with views of the Ojai Valley, offering a feeling of seclusion. There are covered family/group barbecue areas near the entrance of the park available by reservation only. Fees are $20 per night. There are 31 campsites. RV camping in lower portion of park only with 35 foot maximum length; no hook ups. Dogs allowed on leash for $1/night fee (2 dog maximum). Individual and group campsites are available online at www.venturaparks.org.
Foster Park is located at 438 Casitas Vista Road, Ventura, off of Highway 33. The park is lush with plenty of trees and two separate campgrounds, Residence Campground (14 campsites) and Red Mountain Campground (23 campsites) but as of April 2015, Red Mountain is closed until further notice. The Ojai Valley Trail runs through the park, which is great for cycling, walking and running. Residence $20-$34 per day, per site (1 RV, 1 vehicle, and 1 tent maximum). Maximum of 6 campers per site. Dogs allowed on leash for $1/night fee (2 dog maximum). Individual and group campsites are available online at www.venturaparks.org.
Kenney Grove Park at 823 North Oak Avenue, Fillmore is a developed RV campground with over 50 campsites for RVs and tents. It is owned by the county but is leased to a private party that manages the campground. Most sites have water and electrical hookups and some have fire rings and tables. Park use is by reservation only. There is a playground, restrooms, softball field, horseshoe pits, hot showers and other amenities. Dogs allowed on 6 foot leash in campground only ($1/night fee, 2 dog maximum). Ten full hookups available. Fees are $22 and $36 per night. Call 805-524-0750 for information.
Oak Park Campground in Simi Valley is just off of the 118 freeway at 901 Quimsa Drive. There are approximately 30 campsites in this rustic, 100 acre open space park. Available for both RVs and tents at $31/night (as of July 2016). There are two playgrounds, amphitheater area, fire pits, restrooms and more. Maximum of 6 campers per site. Dogs allowed on leash for $1/night fee (2 dog maximum). Individual and group campsites are available online at www.venturaparks.org.
There's a county-run 50 site campground at Steckel Park, 8080 Mistletoe Road, Santa Paula. Santa Paula Creek runs through this campground surrounded by rolling hills, mountains and trees. There's a playground, horseshoe pits, picnic tables, restrooms, etc. Dogs allowed on a 6 foot leash. Individual and group campsites are available online at www.venturaparks.org.
Tapo Canyon Regional Park is located in the midst of the rolling hills and canyons of the Santa Susana Mountains north of Simi Valley at 4651 Tapo Canyon Road. Hikers, equestrian riders, and mountain bikers enjoy this rugged and rural park, which features picnic areas, an equestrian arena and a RV campground with 16 full hook ups. Fees are $37/night as of May 2015. Dogs allowed on a 6 foot leash. Individual and group campsites are available online at www.venturaparks.org.
Rincon Parkway is located between Faria Beach Park and Hobson Beach Park on Highway 1 off the Ventura Freeway. 127 RV use only parking spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. Tent camping is not allowed. All RVs must be fully self-contained, as there are no electrical hook ups, dump stations, shower/bathroom facilities or water onsite, although there are a handful of porta-johns. Cost is $28 per day year-round as of July 2016. There is a 5 day parking limit from April 1 to October 31 and a 14 day limit from November 1 to March 31. Dogs allowed on 6 foot leash; pets are $1 per day per pet.
Hobson Beach Park at 5210 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura is north of Faria Beach Park and the Rincon Parkway. Similar to Faria Park, Hobson Park is wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the base of the Santa Ynez mountains along Highway 1 off the Ventura Freeway. There are 31 first come, first served sites available, 10 with hookups ($48/day as of May 2015) and the rest without hookups ($34/day as of May 2015). The beach is steps away and there are showers and a concession stand. Dogs allowed on a 6 foot leash ($1/night fee; 2 dog maximum). Map of campground available at www.venturaparks.org.
Faria Beach Park at 4350 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura is south of Hobson Beach Park. Another popular beachfront spot with 42 spaces available on a first come, first served basis. Tent and RV camping available with fees ranging from $34-$36/day for non-hookup spots to $48/day for hookup spots (as of July 2016). There are showers and a concession stand. Dogs allowed on a 6 foot leash ($1/night fee; 2 dog maximum). Map of campground available at www.venturaparks.org.
Mount Pinos in the Los Padres National Forest is the tallest peak in Ventura County, located about 1 hour, 45 minutes away from the heart of Thousand Oaks, adjacent to Kern County.
- Mt. Pinos Campground is a first-come, first-served, 19 site, walk in campground available in the summer/fall months. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lpnf/recarea/?recid=10990
- The McGill Campground is a reservable campground with 78 family sites and 2 group sites. 1.usa.gov/1qVQQpq
- The walk-in Chula Vista Campground is located adjacent to the Nordic Base area 1.usa.gov/1OWAvqs
Directions to Mount Pinos: From I-5, take Frazier Park exit (Frazier Mountain Park Road). Go west approximately 6 miles. The road name changes to Cuddy Valley Road. Continue on it up Mt. Pinos. The road name changes to Mt. Pinos Highway.
The County of Santa Barbara runs two popular camping parks, Cachuma Lake and Jalama Beach. Both accept online reservations, but 40 sites at Cachuma and 20 sites at Jalama are first come, first served for walk-in customers.
Cachuma Lake Recreation Area is located at 2225 Highway 154, Santa Barbara, midway between the beach and the town of Solvang. Tent sites, hookups, cabins, yurts and group area available. As Cachuma Lake is a domestic water supply, swimming, water skiing, windsurfing, or any other body contact with the water is prohibited. Fishing is allowed. Detailed list of fees at Cachuma at this link.
Jalama Beach County Park is located at 9999 Jalama Road in Lompoc, an hour drive from Santa Barbara. Named after what used to be a Chumash Indian settlement named Halama. ARCO donated 23.5 acres of land to the County of Santa Barbara in 1943. There are 109 campsites, all overlooking the ocean or beachfront, each with a picnic table and BBQ pit, with hot showers, restrooms and water nearby. 31 sites offer electrical hookups and dump stations are available. Detailed list of fees at Jalama at this link
Privately Operated Campgrounds In the Area
The 76 acre Ventura Ranch KOA campground is located at 5400 Pine Grove Road in Santa Paula, nestled in Heritage Valley at the foot of the Topa Topa mountain range off highway 150 between Santa Paula and Ojai. They have a large variety of camping options, from RV and tent camping to teepees and cabins. Deluxe cabins have TVs, linens, towels, AC/heater and more...my kind of "camping!" The campground also features a campground, zip lining, rock climbing wall and much more. Dogs are allowed on leash. Learn more and make reservations at koa.com/campgrounds/ventura-ranch or call 805.933.3200 for more information.
The Ventura Beach RV Resort is located at 800 W. Main Street in Ventura, just a bike ride away from Ventura County Fairgrounds and Surfers' Point. This nicely maintained, ocean breeze filled location has 144 RV spots all with hookups and 36 tent sites. There's a playground, free wifi, showers and restrooms, store, pool and jacuzzi, basketball court, pool table arcade and more. Summer 2015 rates for RV spots range from $70 to $95/night (about $10/night less during winter months). Tent spots are $55 to $70/night and can accomodate 1 large tent or 2 small tents. More information at www.venturabeachrvpark.com.
Ventura Oaks RV Park is located at 255 Burnham Road in Oak View, offering 60 full hookup sites just two miles from Lake Casitas. Park-like setting with picnic tables, fully furnished laundry area, picnic tables and wifi throughout. Long-term rentals available. Visit www.venturaoaks.com for more information.
Santa Barbara RV Park is located at 516 S. Salinas Street. It is adjacent to the highway, so there will be some noise, but it is also located within a couple miles of the beach, the Santa Barbara Zoo and downtown area. There are 30 sites. Site has bathrooms, showers and a laundry room. Free wifi. Dogs allowed. Visit www.santabarbararv.com.
Rancho Oso Resort is located at 3750 Paradise Road, Santa Barbara, 8 miles east of Cachuma Lake. Accomodations include RV camping, horse camping, covered wagons, resort cabins and Tipi camping. Visit www.ranchooso.net.
El Capitan Canyon Resort is located at 11560 Calle Real, Goleta, adjacent to El Capitan State Beach. This is luxury camping, with nicely appointed cedar cabins with beds, kitchens and restrooms (my kind of camping) as well as 26 salari tents that are spacious with bedding and nearby restroom/shower facilities. Of course, there's also picnic tables, fire pits, etc as well as a store with all the stuff you need to "rough it." Activities include a pool, small playground, bike rentals, hiking, of course the nearby beach and much more. Visit www.elcapitancanyon.com.
Next door to El Capitan Canyon Resort is Ocean Mesa RV Resort at El Capitan, at 100 El Capitan Terrace Lane, Goleta. This resort has 20 tent camping site and 80 RV sites. Amenities include heated pool and spa, WiFi, TV, convenience store, hiking, snack bar, horseback riding and more. Visit www.oceanmesa.com.
Malibu Beach RV Park is located at 25801 Pacific Coast Highway, just east of Malibu Seafood. The park has 142 RV spots and up to 35 tent sites, all with a view of the Pacific. Open 365 days a year. Rates range from $40 for an off-season tent spot to $190 for an ocean view premium spot during peak season on weekends. Amenities include store, game room, restrooms with heated showers, laundry and more. Visit www.maliburv.com.
There are no official campgrounds in the Conejo Valley, but the Conejo Valley Recreation and Park District hosts a Family Campout several times a year in Wildwood Park. Bring your tents and camping gear and enjoy an evening of fun with other local families, including hikes, exploring, meals and campfire. Visit www.crpd.org for more info.
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