The Best Camping Near Long Beach, California

Campers in Hidden Valley Campground at Joshua Tree National Park
Campers in Hidden Valley Campground at Joshua Tree National Park | © Steve Shuey / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nicholas Grantham
4 August 2020

If you feel like you need to escape the city and spend a night under the stars, you should visit Southern California. With stunning areas of natural beauty like Joshua Tree National Park and Angeles National Forest nearby, Long Beach has plenty of options for those wanting to experience the great outdoors. Here are Culture Trip’s favorite camping spots near the city.

Buttercup Group Campground, San Bernardino National Forest

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A vewi of San Bernarnino National Forest, Big Bear California
© Bon Koo / Alamy Stock Photo

Approximately an hour-and-a-half drive northeast of Long Beach, the Buttercup Group Campground in the San Bernardino National Forest is a perfect destination for a camping getaway. It’s in an isolated spot surrounded by pine trees. Surrounding the campground are several great hiking routes for all skill levels. The popular Big Bear Lake is just a short trek away.

San Onofre Bluffs Campground, San Onofre State Beach

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If you are looking to stay somewhere closer to the water, the San Onofre Bluffs Campground is ideal for taking in the sea air. It’s located slightly north from San Onofre State Beach and is well known for its great surfing opportunities. Although it’s strictly camping only, with no RVs allowed on the site, each pitch comes with a firepit and picnic tables. You won’t be completely roughing it, though, as the campsite also has outdoor showers and chemical toilets available.

Moro Campground, Crystal Cove State Park

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Picnic Table at Crystal Cove State Park Historic District, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, California
© Gary Crabbe / Enlightened Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Just a little farther down the coast from Long Beach is the Moro Campground which has everything you could want from an outdoor adventure. It has access to a pristine 3mi (5km) stretch of beach perfect for water-based activities, such as diving, swimming and surfing. For those wanting a slightly wilder experience, the 2,000 acres (809ha) of Crystal Cove State Park are available for wild camping, with many hiking routes leading to secluded areas.

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  • Buckhorn Campground, Angeles National Forest

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    One of the lesser-known campsites on this list, but no less impressive, is the Buckhorn Campground in Angeles National Forest. With nearly 40 pitches available, there is no shortage of space and each one comes with a firepit and picnic tables. The site itself also intersects some of the best hiking routes in California, specifically the Pacific Crest and Silver Moccasin trails. Just make sure to lock up your food at night as bears are frequently spotted in the area.

    Hidden Valley Campground, Joshua Tree National Park

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    Campers in Hidden Valley Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, California
    © Steve Shuey / Alamy Stock Photo

    If you’re looking for a slightly different camping experience, consider Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. A longer drive outside Long Beach as you will be heading into the desert regions of California, the park offers scenes quite different to the coastal city, with its Joshua trees and arid landscape. Fantastic for climbers, Hidden Valley is among the most popular campsites in the park, so be sure to get there early.

    Malibu Creek State Park Campground

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    Found in Malibu Creek State Park, this campsite has a variety of activities on offer. Complete with abundant wildlife, the campground is an excellent base for any animal enthusiasts or birdwatchers wanting to catch a glimpse. If you are looking for something to get your blood pumping, the camp is near some excellent mountain biking routes and rock-climbing faces. For film fans, the park was used extensively for filming before opening to the public in 1976, with the likes of the original Planet of the Apes (1968) being filmed on location.

    These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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