California's unique length, stretching from sunny Mexico all the way to the notoriously rainy border of Oregon, is to thank for its diverse geography, comprising snow-capped mountains, deserts, redwood forests, and 840 miles of coast all in a single state. It's the myriad of landscapes—and its sheer number of simply unmatchable RV parks—that keeps an endless flow of campers and outdoor enthusiasts coming year after year.
The Golden State is home to nine national parks, 300 state parks and beaches, and 20 national forests, not to mention a collection of captivating cities, and California's best RV parks are perhaps the best way to see them.
Ocean Mesa at El Capitan, Santa Barbara, is a serene coastal getaway just a couple hours north of bustling Los Angeles. Conveniently located off the infamous vertically running Route 101, this campground is situated on a stunning beach amid miles of hiking trails and a host of vineyards. On the property, Ocean Mesa has a heated swimming pool and jacuzzi, a kids' playground, and the occasional al fresco concert or outdoor movie. Off the property, you can visit Santa Barbara's 18th-century Spanish mission, cruise Stearns Wharf, or get lost in the cacti and desert botanicals of Lotusland. For a little more action, the vibrant Santa Monica Pier is about 100 miles down the road.
The RV park provides full utility hookups—including 30- and 50-amp—plus water and sewer facilities. Bonus amenities include cable TV, Wi-Fi, grills, and fire pits on every pitch. There are both pull-through and back-in sites that can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet in length. For added entertainment, sign up for a beach run or astronomy session by the campfire, all arranged by the Ocean Mesa staff.
San Francisco is known for its rolling hills, bay views, and easy-going lifestyle. Its namesake RV Resort embodies that persona, perched on a 60-foot bluff overlooking the Pacific, offering all 150 sites an ocean view. Just below, campers can surf, lounge, and explore the tide pools before coming back up to the campsite for a grand showing of golden hour. San Francisco RV Resort is 15 miles (an easy commute on public transport) from major attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Half Moon Bay, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz, making it an ideal base camp for tourists. On-site, there's a swimming pool and hot tub, plus picnic areas, a general store, and a clubhouse. Most sites come with water, sewer, cable, and electrical hookups, except those right on the ocean, which only allow for dry camping. Additionally, campers have access to laundry facilities, showers, and Wi-Fi.
California's redwood trees are some of the largest living organisms on the planet, and the Redwoods RV Resort in Crescent City puts campers right in the shadow of them. Located along the Pacific Coast, on the outskirts of Redwoods National Park, and near Klamath and Smith Rivers, the outdoor adventures are virtually limitless. Opportunities for fishing, ocean swimming, boating, bicycling, skiing, and partaking in adrenaline-pumping water sports abound. At the RV resort itself, campers have access to walking trails through ancient trees towering 200 feet tall.
Redwoods RV Resort can accommodate larger motorhomes and trailers and offers 50-amp electric, water, and sewer. Laundry, free showers, Wi-Fi, and even a dog bath are available to all visitors. In the nearby towns of Crescent City and Brookings, Oregon, there are cinemas, bowling alleys, and restaurants to further entertain.
Southern California is famous for its laidback, surf-centric beaches, among the most iconic being the sliver of coast just west of Los Angeles. Malibu Beach RV Park is the only RV Park in the city of Malibu, and its name is not hyperbolic—you really can camp out right on the sand. Each of the 142 RV sites and 35 tent sites offers a view of either the mountains or the ocean (both, if you're lucky), so you can't go wrong with your placement. The campground is located right along the Pacific Coast Highway between Corral Canyon and Solstice Canyon, both popular for hiking, and is just half a mile from the beloved Malibu Seafood, always with a line out its door.
The park has everything required for a cozy stay, including full hookups, hot showers, laundry facilities, a convenience store for late-night munchies, game room, propane refill, dump stations, and more. You can venture out to see what the region has to offer—the Santa Monica Pier, The Getty Villa, Hollywood—or sit back at the campsite and enjoy a classic California sunset.
Further south, this waterfront RV park in San Diego is brimming with activities, from kayak and paddleboard rentals to kid-friendly swimming pools and lagoons. Campland on the Bay is a 50-year tradition, offering more than 500 paved RV sites with full utility hookups, access to laundry and bathroom facilities, a game room, cantina, ice cream parlor, and hot tubs, all along Fiesta Bay. Boats are welcome in its own private marina and a "supersite" (with its own private jacuzzi, bathroom and laundry facilities, and views of the Kendall Frost Wildlife Sanctuary) is available for big families.
The campground—more like an estate—boasts a near-endless offering of amenities, including a skate park and concert stage. The staff also runs supervised kids' programs so the adults can kick back with a cocktail on the beach.
Always lively and occupying a hefty chunk of the San Diego coast, Campland is a vacation in itself. However, if you were to venture out, the resort is 4 miles from Mission Beach and just over 5 miles from Old Town. The scenic, rugged coastline of La Jolla is a 15-minute drive.
When it comes to camping in California, Yosemite is the holy grail. The national park is outfitted with 10 RV parks, but Upper Pines ranks among the most popular due to its size (boasting a whopping 240 campsites) and its views of both El Capitan and Half Dome. No campgrounds in Yosemite National Park come with hookups, so campers can expect a more primitive experience in this neck of the woods (yes, it's literally in the woods), but there are flush toilets and potable water stations on-site, plus hot showers, a general store, and restaurants in nearby Curry Village.
Upper Pines is paved, making it easy to navigate with an RV, and welcomes both rigs and tents. Each site comes with a fire pit, picnic table, and storage locker to keep food from the resident black bears. The park is nestled in the heart of Yosemite Valley, making it an excellent starting point for a variety of activities. You can hop on the trail directly from your campsite to waterfalls, scenic vantage points, rolling meadows, dramatic cliff faces, and the Merced River. Rest assured, the boondocking is worth it.
Another popular national park, this one in Southern California, is Joshua Tree, home of the yucca palms that characteristically grow where the Mojave and the Colorado deserts meet. The landscape is otherworldly—vacant save its namesake trees and scattered boulders—and the Jumbo Rocks Campground is about as rugged as the entire park seems. Like most other national parks, Joshua Tree does not have any full-hookup sites, so Jumbo Rocks is, again, relatively primitive (vault toilets, but no showers). Every site comes with a fire ring and private grill so RVers can keep blazes contained within the arid park.
Joshua Tree itself is full of unique sights and activities including the Cholla Cactus Garden, Keys View, and Hidden Valley. It's an ideal destination for RVers who enjoy hiking in natural, remote landscapes, seeing as how far it is from the nearest major city—San Diego and Los Angeles are both more than 100 miles away.