BEST PLACES TO GO CAMPING NEAR L.A.*

*A guide to places that are reachable by car within a few hours or less, from the coast to the mountains.
  1. Ventana Campground, Big Sur
    78 well-groomed, spacious sites with fire rings. Bonus: Skip the canned chili and follow a trail that leads to Restaurant at Ventana, an easy to hike to spot for black cod and brisket.
  2. Costanoa Lodge, Pescadero
    Tent bungalows have electricity, beds, and locking doors. Posh yet tenty enough to rustle in coastal breeze. Bonus features: showers, dry saunas, and outdoor fireplaces
  3. Jalama Beach, Lompoc
    Windy, remote, with a world famous burger shack
  4. San Mateo Campground, San Clemente
    Near one of the most hallowed surf spots in the state, campsites have lots of shade and privacy.
  5. Channel Islands
    Five campable isles are: Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. National park is one of the least trafficked in the park system.
  6. Moro Campground, Laguna Beach
    Booked solid six months in advance, the 58 campsites are high above Crystal Park Cove with stunning view of the Pacific.
  7. Santa Barbara Autocamp, Santa Barbara
    This shiny compound of vintage Airstream trailers is just three miles from the beach. Good for non-campers who want a taste of the outdoors.
  8. Cottonwood Lakes, Inyo National Forest
    12 camp sites located in the Eastern Sierra near the trail to the John Muir Wilderness.
  9. Los Prietos Campground, Los Padres National Forest
    Located at the edge of the the Santa Ynez Valley in the Los Padres National Forest. Hiking, with nearby wineries that are casual enough for camping clothes.
  10. Buckeye Flat, Sequoia National Park
    28 tent-only sites near the Kaweha River. Short drive to giant sequoias along Paradise Creek Trail.
  11. Starlight Trail, Sequoia National Park
    Perfect base camp if you've got a few days to explore Crystal Cave, Giant Forest, and Buck Rock Lookout.
  12. Ricardo Canyon, Red Rock Canyon State Park
    Halfway between L.A. and Lone Pine, Ricardo Campground has 50 first-come, first-served campsites for high-desert hikers.
  13. Wheeler Gorge Campground, Los Padres National Forest
    A stream runs through this spread of more than 80 sites, located a bit north of Ojai in Los Padres National Forest. Insects thrive here during warmer months, but the oaks and pines make for a serene tent space.
  14. Horse Flats Campground, Angeles National Forest
    With towering Jeffrey pine trees, it's hard to believe this 26 site campground in the San Gabriel mountains is right here in L.A. County. Horse riding and hiking along the Silver Moccasin Trail. Enjoy!