How to Reserve a Camping Spot in Orange County

Your guide to booking camping spots in Orange County

Now is the time to start thinking about any camping trips you would like to take this summer.  I love camping, but I also prefer to stay close to home. There are plenty of choices in our own community of Orange County. But since most of the campgrounds within Orange County are located near the beach, the demand is high for people wanting to camp in our O.C. campgrounds. You need to book these high-demand campgrounds 6 months in advance.

State Campgrounds in Orange County

State owned campgrounds allow you to book your camping spots 6 months in advance, so today, December 1st, is the first day you can book spots for the month of June 2013. The months of July and August are the most popular, and inventory sells out fast, pretty much within the first hour of being available on the first day of each month. You must plan ahead in order to book any kind of beach camp spot. Beach spots are in high demand, so you need to have your dates chosen and be ready to book on the 1st of the month, 6 months before.

The following are state campground located within Orange County:

Bolsa Chica State Park – nestled between Huntington and Seal Beach. An RV/Trailer campground where you can camp right up to the sand. It offers full hookups.

Crystal Cove State Park -offers RV/trailer and tent camping along the beach. Campers also have the choice of a more primitive camping experience by booking a tent spot in the Crystal Cove Backland, located 3 miles inland.

Doheny State Park – A family favorite offering both RV/trailer and tent camping along the beach near Dana Point. Primitive camping/no hookups, but does have showers and bathrooms. It’s a short walk to the beach, which is sandy, but the ocean bottom is rocky.

San Clemente State Park – Our family favorite. It offers both RV/trailer and tent camping on the bluff above San Clemente Beach. One of Orange County’s largest campsites, families can have fun hiking on the beach trails, bike riding and playing on the beach. The walk to the beach is a bit of a hike, but the beach is sandy as well as the ocean bottom.

San Mateo State Park – Lies a short distance inland from the 3.5-miles of sandy beaches within San Onofre State Beach.  A 1.5-mile Nature Trail connects the campground to Trestles Beach, a world class surfing site. San Mateo Creek flows just east of the campground outward towards the ocean creating key riparian and wetland habitats which host some rare and even endangered species.  All campsites include a fire pit.  Hookup sites are available with electricity and water.

San Onofre Bluffs – Offers camping along Old Highway 101 adjacent to the sandstone bluffs.  The beach below is popular with swimmers and surfers with six rugged dirt access trails cut into the bluff above.  All campsites include a fire. No hookups are available however there is a dump-station.

Orange County Campgrounds

Caspers Wilderness Park – Offers primitive camping in a wilderness setting. RV/Trailors are allowed. Only electrical hookups are available. Campers can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, playground and the wilderness.

O’Neill Regional Park – Offers primitive camping with paved streets and and sites. RV/Trailors are allowed, but no hookups are available. Campers can enjoy hiking, biking, nature center and the wilderness.

City Campgrounds

Huntington Beach City Campground – Just south of the Huntington Beach Pier. An RV/Trailer campground where you can camp right up to the sand. It offers full hookups.

Privately Owned - (a few of our favorites)

Anaheim Resort RV Park – Camp in Mickey’s backyard! Camp spots are full hooks ups and are suited for RV/trailers. Guest can enjoy a pool and hot tub.  Located conveniently close to all Anaheim attractions.

Newport Dunes – Offers a resort-like atmosphere. Camp spots are full hooks ups and are suited for RV/trailers, but tents can be pitched on the camp sites. Newport Dunes also has cottages for rent with a kitchen, sleep area and bathroom. Guests enjoy the mile of beach front with a swimming pool and a playground on the beach for the kids. Campers can rent a sailboats, pedal boats or electric boats.  Boatscan be launched from the convenient launch ramp to the Newport Harbor.

Canyon RV Park / Featherly Regional Park – Canyon RV Park occupies Featherly Wilderness Preserve, Canyon. It is situated along the Santa Ana River in the heart of the Santa Ana Canyon. It offers primitives camping as well as RV/trailer camping with full hook-ups. Campers can enjoy the open area for recreation along with a seasonal pool and playgrounds for the kids.


You’ve Picked Your Campground – Now Reserve Your Spot!

Reservations for all State and County Campgrounds can be made through the Reserve America website. Like I said before, you are allowed to start booking sites on the 1st of each month, six months before the date you want. In order to increase your chances of getting the spot you want, you should log into the computer 10 minutes before 8:00 am and have the spot you want ready to go. When the clock strikes 8:00 a.m., click “Book This Site” immediately. (I can not stress this enough) I often have a few windows open ready to go because the beach campground spots go so quickly, and many times don’t get my first choice. (you can cancelled any reservations you have made and get a refund, less $8, up to 48 hours before your reservation date)

If you want to go camping and you haven’t booked your stay six months in advance, don’t worry. You can always go onto the website and see if there is an opening. A lot of times we decide on a whim to go, and find an awesome spot that someone has cancelled. You never know!

Here is what the site looks like….

You then can search for the campgrounds you’d like to visit. Enter the dates you want and click “map” and see all spots available at the campground. Click the spot you want and it will let you know if it is available.  If it is, you can proceed to checkout and pay. Have your credit card information ready.

Here is an example of San Clemente State Park Campground.

Private and City Owned campgrounds should be booked through there own websites, and have there own rules of how far in advance you can book. You can also book or by calling directly.

The Key to making your Camping Trip Enjoyable

It is important to make sure that you pick a campground that has the amenities that “your family” needs. If you are tent camping, it might be important that you have running water or bathrooms with shower facilities. If you are using an RV/Trailor, you may want hook-ups if you don’t have a generator. All Orange County campgrounds have cell phone reception, so that will not be an issue to worry about. If your family likes hiking, make sure that you will have access to camping trails. Not all campsites allow open fires or have fire pits, so check for that if it is one of your requirements. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination and not having the proper equipment to enjoy your stay.

I hope these tips help you book the perfect camping spot for your camping trip!




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