How to Plan a Camping Trip Across California

Visitors to California are increasingly discovering that it’s possible to fly into Los Angeles or San Francisco, rent a car and take the road trip of a lifetime, staying in campgrounds along the way. Indeed, campgrounds are located near every tourist attraction in the state, from San Francisco to Disneyland to the rocky cliffs of Big Sur to Yosemite National Park and many points in between.

In California, you don’t even need to have a tent or a sleeping bag to camp, since many campgrounds offer fully furnished rental cabins, tents as well as unique rental accommodations ranging from covered wagons to tipis. Of course, by visiting the websites of major RV rental companies, such as El Monte RV (, Cruise America ( or Apollo RV (, you can also see the full range of recreational vehicle products that are available to you, whether you want to rent an RV for a few days or an entire month or more. Check out the “Discover California,” “Cool Stuff” and “Press” sections of this website to identify the scenic attractions, historical landmarks, special events that you want to include in your California tour.

Once you have figured where you want to go, use our “Find a Park” tool to identify campgrounds along your proposed travel route. You can then click on the website links of each campground to see what they have to offer in terms of RV or tent sites, rental accommodations, facilities, amenities and recreational activities.

Keep in mind that there are two different types of campgrounds in the United States. Government run campgrounds, such as those inside the boundaries of state and national parks, tend to have limited services and amenities. Most government run campgrounds do not have electrical hookups or Wi-Fi service, for example. Privately owned and operated campgrounds, such as those featured on this website, are more likely to offer full hookups and dump stations; swimming pools; showers; and convenience stores. Most privately owned and operated campgrounds also have Wi-Fi service and many also have cable television hookups.

Growing numbers of campgrounds also offer organized family activities, from guided nature walks to Bigfoot mystery tours and even competitive sporting events. Many also have uniquely American cultural activities, from barbecue and chili cooking competitions to Halloween-themed events, where campers compete with one another in costume and campsite decorating contests. Keep in mind that it’s also possible to take a camping trip across California without renting an RV. This is because many of our privately owned and operated campgrounds have rental accommodations, including cabins, park trailers and yurts. Some campgrounds even have furnished safari tents and Native American style teepees that they make available for rent for those who do not have their own camping equipment. Thanks to the availability of rental accommodations in campgrounds, you can rent a car and simply drive to each campground and spend the night in a cabin or other rental accommodation. Just make sure you plan your trip carefully and make reservations because rental units tend to book up quickly, especially on summer weekends.

Here is a quick checklist of things you need to do to begin planning your American camping adventure.
  • Determine the places in California you would like to visit and the best time of year to go there. Keep in mind that California is a very big state. It might be worthwhile to focus your travels on specific areas and take several trips rather than try to see everything on one trip.
  • Make a list of the places you would like to visit and the amount of time you would like to stay at each location.
  • Map out your driving route and use Google Maps to determine how much travel time you will need between each stop on your tour.
  • Use this website to identify campgrounds, RV parks and resorts where you could spend the night during your tour. Visit the websites of all of the campgrounds listed in each location. You might discover that they have unique activities or amenities that will be of interest to your family or friends.
  • Plan your meals. One of the biggest advantages of camping is that you have the ability to prepare your own food – either at your campsite, inside your rental cabin or in your RV. If you make a list of the food items you need, you can pick them up at a grocery store before you arrive your campground. Careful meal planning can help you lower your overall food costs.
  • Visit the websites of major RV rental companies to determine the price and available of RVs during the time you intend to travel. RV rentals are in high demand during the summer months. If you are thinking about taking an RV trip in the near future, it is better to reserve your RV now rather than waiting to the last minute.
  • If you find that renting an RV is more expensive than you anticipated, you may want to consider sharing your RV rental with other family members or friends who would also like to visit California. This way you can share the cost of the RV rental, food and fuel.
  • UK visitors, click here for more information about interesting destinations in California.
  • Australian visitors, click here for more information about interesting destinations in California.

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Camp-California is concerned about the health and safety of our campers and adventurers. While camping and outdoor activities do offer the ability to self-isolate, we are encouraging all California residents and travelers to shelter in place until further notice. We recognize that getting outdoors is what you do best, and we will be here to reacquaint you with nature once we're cleared for adventure again!


Most private parks are open with 14-day minimums. If you are a full-time RVer looking to shelter in place, a member of the traveling medical profession, or a utility worker looking for a park please call our office and we can connect you with an appropriate location.