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Oceanfront Camping at State Parks in California, USA

For an inexpensive family vacation with gorgeous scenery, try reserving a spot at a State Park campground near the ocean in California.

A lot of families think of camping in the woods, but beaches are also an option. There are several State Parks in California that offer oceanfront camp sites. Rather than going for a traditional hike in the forest, you can frolic in the waves and spend the afternoon building sandcastles before retiring to your tent.

Moro State Park Campground

In Orange County, California, check out the new Moro State Park Campground. Located between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach in the Crystal Cove State Park, the campground has spectacular ocean views and miles of hiking trails that lead through the coastal brush.

For only $50 to $65 a night, campers can pitch a tent or hook up their RV. The newly built 35-acre park is a bit sparse and edges the often noisy Pacific Coast Highway, but access to the beach is readily available and the picturesque sunsets are breathtaking.

With the recent threat of State Park closures, this $15 million dollar project which took nearly three years is quite a feat.

Campground Amenities

The following details apply to all campers:

  • Check in is at 3:00 p.m.
  • Check out is at 1:00 p.m.
  • Pets are allowed
  • No open fires are allowed, propane only
  • Maximum of 8 people per site
  • Reservations can be made online

Those looking to rough it in a tent need to make sure it can stand without stakes. If you’re interested in a bit more comfort, the RV sites offer the following amenities:

  • There is an electricity and water hookup
  • There is no sewer hook-up
  • There is a picnic table on-site
  • Tents are not allowed on RV sites

Hike-In Campsites

For a more secluded camping experience, the park offers three hike-in campsites located on 2,400 acres of undeveloped land. The hike is a strenuous three-mile uphill climb. The campsites are located inland, but the park does include 3.2 miles of beach.

Beach Cottages

Located on the beach in Crystal Cove State Park’s Historic District are 14 renovated beach bungalows. The charming area also includes the oceanfront Beachcomber Cafe that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The park also offers an extensive educational program that includes things like plein air painting classes and nature hikes.

Other camping spots in Orange County include Regional Parks and Catalina Island. For a complete list of campgrounds in the Orange County area and to make a reservation, visit


Making Camping Reservations in State and National Parks in the US

Park reservations can be made online, however a staff of qualified agents are a phone call away. These agents take reservations and can assist a customer in making them online. Since holding times for making reservations are long, being prepared to make a reservation saves time.

Some circumstances require making reservations while on the road. When doing so, try to pick a quiet place from which to make the call. Sitting on the beach may be a comfortable place to make the call, but wind noise can make accuracy difficult to achieve. Further, cell phone reception is often poor when camping and may not last long enough to complete the transaction in which case the process will have to be repeated.

Tips to Making Quick and Accurate Camping Reservations by Phone

  • Know the actual name of the campground/park.
  • Popular names often differ from the actual name.
  • Plan the trip and have alternate campground and/or dates in mind.
  • Consult maps of the campsite on line to pick the most desirable.
  • Prepare all contact Information.
  • Interagency Senior and Access Pass, or Golden Age Passport card number.
  • A credit card is required.
  • Paper and pencil.
  • Do not put the reservation agent on hold since the software may cancel the call.
  • Make the reservation several months or at least several weeks in advance.

Yosemite Camping Reservations

Obtaining reservations to any of the campgrounds in Yosemite National Park is difficult. If reservations are desired within the coming two months the best solution is to find a cancellation on line. Yosemite campsites go on sale the fifteenth of every month at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

  • All campgrounds sell out very quickly.
  • Establish an account online.
  • Search and reserve any site in any park.
  • Refresh the web browser often.
  • Do not get discouraged.

Online Camping Reservations

Making online reservations at a National or State Park is quicker than waiting for an agent on the phone. Although great effort has been made to make the process easy, many find the process confusing. Be sure to verify your choices before placing the order. If you make an error a fee will be charged to correct it when you call an agent to correct the error. The agent does not have the authority to waive a fee.

Either site requires an online account before a reservation can be made. Both sites will show availability, however they default to searching only for sites available for reservation. They will not show the first come first serve sites (designated by “W”) unless the search is adjusted to do so.

Clicking on the “Book Now” tab removes the campsite from available status to allow time to complete the reservation. After providing a credit card number, the screen will show the reservation number and an email confirmation will be sent within 48 hours. If no confirmation/reservation number appears on the screen the transaction has failed. The campsite will be returned to inventory in about a half hour.

Interagency Senior Pass

The Interagency Senior Pass is available to US citizens and permanent residents 62 and older. The pass allows a 50% discount on user fees such as camping, swimming, boating and guided tours.

Interagency Access Pass

Available to US citizens and permanent residents that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability regardless of age. There is no charge for Interagency Access Pass lifetime pass. The pass allows a 50% discount on the same user fees as the Senior Pass.

Increased demand for campsites required a reservation system to fairly allocate sites to everyone. Of the two ways to reserve a site the online option is quicker, however a phone call to the US based agents allow direct conversation and advice from a knowledgeable person.


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