Stunning Places To Camp Near Los Angeles

Stunning Places To Camp Near Los Angeles

By California.com
October 12, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

For nature lovers, California’s underrated state parks are little slices of paradise—and Los Angeles has no shortage of them. Perhaps when the City of Angels first comes to mind, images of glitz and glamour, shopping extravaganzas, and colorful street art pop into your imaginative brain. While camping may not be the first thing you think of, it's definitely not to be missed. With many locations to pitch your tent under the gorgeous star-lit sky, the stunning places to camp near La La Land will take you to seventh heaven. 

The Top Camping Sites Near Los Angeles

With a multitude of Pacific Coast beaches and two notable mountain ranges—the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains—surrounding the majestic city of L.A., there are ample camping spots for every mood. For your next getaway, pitch a tent at one of the best camping spots near Los Angeles

Malibu Creek State Park

The view of Malibu Lake from Malibu Creek State Park is breathtaking during every season.

Malibu Creek Campground

Location: Agoura Hills

Amenities: Potable water, showers, and picnic tables.

Activities: Biking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, climbing, swimming, and wildlife watching. 

Fees: $45 per night

Number of sites: 63

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Although there are many California destinations to camp at, nothing beats Malibu. Located only 36 miles outside of L.A., Malibu Creek State Park is one of the best places to camp near Los Angeles for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Although the park offers ample amenities and close proximity to the city, Malibu Creek is all about experiencing the wilderness. The 7,000-acre park is also a great getaway for hikers and runners; with more than 18 hiking trails in the park, it's time for a workout. For a moderately difficult adventure, trek the 6.6-mile Malibu Lake Trail loop for gorgeous views. Anglers will love the nearby Century Lake, which is perfect for a laid-back fishing session. For history enthusiasts, the park offers a significant structure known as the Diego Sepulveda Adobe, built in 1863 as an early Spanish land grant. Despite its secluded feel, the campground fills up fast, so make sure to book ahead of time.

Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest gives you the luxury of camping in a spacious campground nestled 5,300 feet above sea level.

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Meadow Group Campground

Location: Forest Service 3N21 Mount Hillyer Road, Palmdale

Amenities: Toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, and potable water.

Activities: Biking, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, off-roading, climbing, snow sports, swimming, and wildlife watching. 

Fees: $36 and $120 per night

Number of sites: 2

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Perched 5,300 feet above sea level, Meadow Campground is one of the top campgrounds around Los Angeles. While avid campers are likely ready to go, novice campers should purchase any necessary gear from California's best camping gear companies before spending multiple nights in the Angeles National Forest. 

Gather around the campfire with your friends and heat up s’mores in the crisp mountain air. The campground is located half a mile away from the Silver Moccasin Trail—a 53-mile footpath that treks through Angeles National Forest and the wilderness of San Gabriel Mountain. Paddle your boat out to San Gabriel Canyon to fish for trout, bass, and bluegill. Angeles National Forest also has its fair share of wildlife, so be on the lookout for bears, raccoons, and even mountain lions; you won't be alone in the wilderness. For in-depth knowledge about the region and its residents, head over to the Chilao Visitor Center.

Buckhorn Campground

Location: Buckhorn Campground, Pearblossom

Amenities: Potable water, toilets, and picnic tables.

Activities: Biking, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, off-roading, climbing, snow sports, swimming, and wildlife watching. 

Fees: $12 per night

Number of sites: 38

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: No

The sites are first-come, first-served and they fill up fast, as it is one of the best camping sites near Los Angeles. A little-known gem in the Angeles Forest, the Buckhorn Campground is praised for its 6,300 foot elevation which provides cool mountainous temperatures. Break in your hiking boots on the 4.6 out-and-back Burkhart Trail, where your path will cross with the Silver Moccasin Trail. Sail your boat on Little Rock Reservoir to cast out your fishing rod with your friends and enjoy a few refreshments on the water. Spice things up by riding a horse through the Natures Canteen Trail. After a day of activities, stop by Newcomb’s Ranch for an American breakfast.

Crystal Lake Recreation Area

Location: 9877 North Crystal Lake Road, Azusa

Amenities: Potable water, toilets, and picnic tables.

Activities: Biking, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, off-roading, climbing, snow sports, swimming, and wildlife watching.

Fees: $12 per night

Number of sites: 36

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: No

For a calmer, more secluded retreat, set up camp at the Crystal Lake Recreation Area, which boasts bountiful hiking trails that are perfect for burning extra calories after a night of s'mores and barbecue. Strap on your sturdy hiking boots and use the best California products for any adventure to trek the Hawkins Trail to the ridge ending at Hawkins Peak. For an easy path—and an ideal family stroll—meander through the short, yet floral Totonga Nature Trail. Enjoy lunch at the Crystal Lake Cafe, located at the campground’s entrance, and pick up a few camping essentials while you’re there.

Manker Flats Campground

Location: 7980 Mount Baldy Road, Mount Baldy

Amenities: Potable water, toilets, and picnic tables.

Activities: Biking, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, off-roading, climbing, snow sports, swimming, and wildlife watching.

Fees: $14

Number of sites: 21

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: No

The Manker Flats Campground is found at an elevation of 6,000 feet and is one of the best places to camp near Los Angeles. Located at the foot of Mount Baldy—the highest point in Los Angeles County—this destination offers challenging hikes. Follow the Sky Hut Trail to reach the summit of Mount Baldy and take in gorgeous panoramic views of the neighboring valleys and mountains. Get in a good workout by climbing the strenuous path in the San Gabriels through the Bear Canyon Trail.

Fresh air, the feeling of freedom, and stunning views make Angeles National Forest the perfect place for a picnic.

Table Mountain Campground

Location: At the top of Table Mountain Road, Llano

Amenities: Potable water, toilets, and picnic tables.

Activities: Biking, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, off-roading, climbing, snow sports, swimming, and wildlife watching.

Fees: $23–$46

Number of sites: 42

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Spoil yourself with amazing views from Table Mountain Campground and take advantage of its great options for camping outside of Los Angeles. Sitting up high at 6,000 feet in the northern part of Angeles National Forest, campers are blessed with blissful sunrises and sunsets on the daily. Drop anchor at any of the 42 campsites to enjoy a glimpse of wildlife and the San Gabriel Mountain Range. For an easy loop around the campground, trek the three-mile Table Mountain Nature Trail. Stop by the country-style Grizzly Cafe to feast on steaks and hearty dishes on the patio. 

Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Beach near Malibu is one of the most iconic places to camp and relax on the weekends.

Leo Carrillo State Park Campground

Location: 35000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Amenities: Potable water, toilets, showers, and parking.

Activities: Biking, fishing, hiking, wind sports, surfing, swimming, and wildlife watching.

Fees: $45

Number of sites: 138

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

Situated across the PCH from Leo Carrillo State Beach, the campground is an ocean lover's paradise. Leo Carrillo State Park Campground is within walking distance from the beach—surf, fish, sunbathe, and explore nearby tide pools or caves to your heart's content. Traipse the Leo Carillo Beach Trail for a secluded oceanside adventure or opt for the Leo Carillo Yellow Hill Trail for a moderate hike accompanied by beautiful wildflowers. Gear up at Drill Surf and Skate for surf lessons and board rentals.

Point Mugu State Park

Explore the pristine ambiance of the Boney Mountain in Point Mugu State Park. Pitch your tent and prepare to savor the starlit sky at night.

Sycamore Canyon Campground

Location: 9000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Amenities: Potable water, toilets, showers, and picnic tables.

Activities: Biking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, surfing, swimming, and wildlife watching. 

Fees: $45

Number of sites: 58

Dogs allowed: Yes

Reservation required: Yes

For the best beach camping experience in California, stop by Point Mugu State Park. For newbie campers and nature enthusiasts, Sycamore Canyon Campground is the place for you. The large space offers plenty of shaded areas to set up camp among the gorgeous wildflowers. The site is in perfect proximity to the beach, without feeling “too in the wilderness.” Just like s'mores and bonfires, Point Mugu and surfing go hand in hand, so make your way to Point Mugu Beach to surf the righteously rad waves. While traversing the waters, look out for dolphins, whales, seals, and sea lions. When inland, keep an eye out for deer, coyotes, and wild cats.

The park boasts 70 miles of gorgeous hiking opportunities—hike through rugged hills, refreshing river canyons, and green fields draped with sycamore, oak, and walnut trees. Point Mugu State Park's most popular hike is the Sycamore Canyon Trail—a 15.2-mile out-and-back trek that will take you through a magical wooded canyon studded with native sycamore trees. The robust trails of Point Mugu offer plenty of solitude and tranquility—providing the ultimate getaway from the city's hustle and bustle. After an intense hike, treat yourself to fresh seafood and juicy burgers at Neptune’s Net.

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