Carpinteria State Beach Camping: The Complete Guide

Camping at Carpinteria State Beach
Camping at Carpinteria State Beach. Paul Quesnell/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

At Carpinteria State Beach, the campsites are situated among trees, and most of them have grass. In spite of the fact that the state park has "beach" in its name, not all the campsites are actually on the beach. However, all are in easy walking distance to the beach and other facilities.

If you would like to camp at Carpinteria, but you don't own an RV, a good option is 101 RV Rentals. The service delivers and sets up travel trailers at Carpinteria and other area beach campgrounds.

Where to Camp

Carpinteria State Beach has four campgrounds, named after the Channel Islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Within the campgrounds are over 191 family sites. All are open year-round; check in is at 2 p.m. and check out is at 12 p.m.. Reservations can be made day-of or in advance up to six months to the day of the arrival date through Reserve California or by calling 1-800-444-7275.

  • Anacapa Loop: This campground loop offers three group camping sites, Bobcat, Fox, and Raccoon. Bobcat and Fox both offer accommodation for up to 25 people, while Raccoon can accommodate 40. Anacapa offers space for tents, motorhomes and trailers, but no RV hookups.
  • Santa Cruz Loop: Santa Cruz offers three group camping sites, Gull, Egret, and Plover. All can accommodate a maximum of 25 people. Santa Cruz offers space for tents, motorhomes and trailers, but no RV hookups.
  • Santa Rosa Loop: For those looking for beachfront views, Santa Rosa is ideal. This campground offers 22 beachside campsites and is close to Jellybowl Vista Point and the Harbor Seal Preserve.
  • San Miguel Loop: San Miguel offers 55 campsites that can be booked for accommodation. Each campsite offers different levels of access to facilities, so make sure to research before you go.

Facilities

All camping sites at Carpinteria have picnic tables and fire rings and water nearby. You can have a fire in the fire ring at your campsite by purchasing wood from the campsite host. All campground restrooms include coin-operated hot showers.

Some RV sites have full hookups, but others have only water and electrical. They also have tent sites with no hookups. The RV sites can accommodate trailers and camper/motorhomes up to 35 feet long, and all of them are back-in sites. A dump site is available. Besides all that, there's a walk-in hike or bike campground that can be used for one- or two-night stays.

Lifeguards are on duty year-round and lifeguard towers are staffed between late May and early September.

How to Get There

Carpinteria State Beach is 12 miles south of Santa Barbara. Exit U.S. Highway 101 at Casitas Pass Road, turning west toward the ocean. Follow the signs, turning right onto Carpinteria Avenue and immediately left on Palm Avenue, which takes you to the entrance.

Tips to Know Before You Go

  • Dogs are not allowed on the beach (except for service animals). They must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet, must be inside a tent or vehicle at night and you can't leave them unattended anytime.
  • California State Park campgrounds must be reserved well in ahead of time, and you'll have to do it as much as 6 months in advance. Find out everything you need to know with our guide to California state parks reservations.
  • Online reviews of camping at Carpinteria are so divided that it almost makes you wonder whether all those people are talking about the same place. You may want to read some reviews at Yelp and also read some reviews at Tripadvisor before you decide to stay there.
  • If you're researching Carpinteria Beach online, you may find information with campsite numbers that seem contradictory. They changed their numbering system in February 2016, and you can find a list of old vs. new numbers on their website using the link below.
  • Visitors say there are lots of gophers in the park and caution against accidentally stepping into a gopher hole. Seagulls and squirrels are bold and may try to steal your food.
  • Natural tar deposits seep to the surface around Carpinteria. If you step on one, it will make a mess. Any oily substance may help dissolve and remove it. 
  • If you want to have a campfire, buy your wood at the park. It's not just a way for someone to make money, but it keeps invasive species from spreading, including some that could eventually destroy those beautiful trees you're camping under. Visit the California Firewood Taskforce website to find out why. They also have a firewood finder.
  • Carpinteria State Beach campgrounds may close for maintenance or upgrades. During that time, reservations will not be taken, but some of the campgrounds may be open on a first come, first served basis. Get more information about current conditions on the park's website.
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