California has over 280 State and National Parks that include 280 miles of coastline and 625 miles of lake and river front land. This is a whole lot of ground to cover, but we sifted through many and found three very distinct State and National Parks that have beautiful camp grounds that truly stand out. Each of our chosen parks have a special landmark or geological wonder that makes it unique. We hope you enjoy our choices and that it helps you plan your next camping trip in the beautiful state of California!
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia National Park offers 14 campgrounds. Each campsite offers a picnic table, fire ring, and metal food storage box. Most campgrounds are first-come, first-serve so be sure to arrive early at your desired destination. Once there, you can take in natures majestic beauty while hiking through the Giant Forest. The Giant Forest is a unique phenomenon like no place else. It boasts 8,000 giant sequoia trees that are the largest and longest living trees in the world. The largest of them all is named the General Sherman tree.
The General Sherman is the largest living organism on our planet! Standing beneath this wonder is a definite must to add to your bucket list. We recommend taking the congress trail loop that starts off near the General Sherman tree. This trail is two miles in length and gives you a great opportunity to not only see giant sequoias but wildlife such as black bears as well.
As if the Giant Forest were not enough, Sequoia National park offers much more to do. Take in some fly fishing, visit the Crystal Cave, or climb Moro Rock. Lastly, you don’t want miss Kings Canyon on your visit. Kings Canyon is a wide glacial valley that John Muir once likened to Yosemite National Park. In Kings Canyon we recommend going horseback. Take a guided horseback tour by the General Grant Tree, North Grove, Lion Meadow, and Dead Giant Loop. For more information please see visitsequoia.com
Morro Bay State Park
Tucked away near San Louis Obispo is a quaint town named Morro Bay, California. It is home to one of the most visually stunning landscapes along California’s central coast. The centerpiece of this lanscape is Morro Rock. “Morro Rock is also sometimes called the Gibraltar of the Pacific. It is the last of a line of extinct volcanoes formed about 23 million years ago, which include nine peaks ranging from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay. These peaks are aptly named the Nine Sisters because they are all in a row, and in close proximity.” Morro Rock and it’s sandspit have created a sheltered bay full of wildlife both above and below the water’s edge. While camping at Morro Bar State Park you are almost sure to see an otter or two and many unique birds amongst the eucalyptus trees. The sounds and refreshing smells of Morro Bay truly bring you back to nature.While camping at Morro Bay State Park be sure to check out the Kayak rentals. It’s a great day of fun kayaking to the middle of the sandspit and getting out to explore California’s untouched land and the dunes created by the wind and surf. Another attraction you don’t want to miss is the Museum of Natural History at Morro Bay State Park. For more information please visit parks.ca.gov
Joshua Tree National Park
If rock climbing and desert landscape is more your style, then Joshua Tree National Park is an oasis waiting for you. Even though many think that the desert is a lifeless place Joshua Tree National Park boasts a variety of wildlife. “Many animals make their homes in deserts. Birds, lizards, and ground squirrels are most likely to be seen because they are largely active during the day. However, it is at night that desert animals come out to roam. Mostly nocturnal animals include: snakes, bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats, coyotes, and black-tailed jack rabbits.” Joshua Tree is also home to the Desert Tortoise whom spends 95% of his time underground.
There are many activities to do in Joshua Tree. To start, take a trip to the visitor center and go on one of the 12 self guided nature trails. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the park and your desert surroundings. Want to do something more adventurous? Joshua Tree allows for mountain biking and four-wheel-drive vehicles on their backcountry roads. You may also go birdwatching or horseback riding, but the most popular of activities in Joshua Tree is rock climbing. The National Park services states, “ With more than 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes, Joshua Tree offers challenging climbs for all levels of climbing ability. It is truly a world-class climbing destination”. If you are totally new to rock climbing, don’t worry, there is a school to teach you everything a beginner needs to know. Please visit the Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School for more information on how to get started.