What's the best car camping near Los Angelels?
June 3, 2007 9:37 PM   Subscribe

What's the best car camping near Los Angelels?

My girlfriend and I are recent LA transplants, and we want to do a bit of camping in the back of my El Camino.

We're looking for places within comfortable driving distance of central LA where we can take our dog, camp under our camper shell, go on some hikes, and spend a nice weekend.

Seems like Angeles National Forest is a good option, but I'm a bit overwhelmed by the number of campgrounds. We're looking for some pretty, uhm, beginner-level camping, but with some real/nice nature. We'd also like somewhere that'll take a reservation for a campspot so we can plan ahead.

Hive mind, please help me get all Bill Clinton-y under that camper shell.
posted by YoungAmerican to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've enjoyed camping at Point Mugu. It's more of a California beachy camping experience than Angeles Crest, though. The dolphin-watching in the forest isn't as good, I can tell you that. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:17 PM on June 3, 2007

Chilao, in the Angeles, about 40 miles up Rte. 2, is really great. Good views, terrific hiking, and four different campgrounds to choose from. You won't need a reservation, but it costs $12 per night. Bonus points, because five or so miles further up the highway is Newcomb's Ranch, a restaurant with food and beer. All that makes for a really nice, easygoing time.

posted by soulbarn at 10:55 PM on June 3, 2007

I am inspired by this article, although my husband is anti-camping, so we've not been.

I also suggest Kings Canyon National Park , although it is a bit further a-field.
posted by Mozzie at 11:28 PM on June 3, 2007

I'm not like, a camping pro, by any stretch of the imagination. But since you're new to LA you have to check out joshua tree (and nearby twenty-nine palms) to the southeast, and the santa ynez mountains to the north. indio (near palm springs) is also gorgeous. even if it's just for a drive.
posted by phaedon at 2:34 AM on June 4, 2007

Second Chilao, but my favorite Angeles Nat'l Forest campground is Buckhorn, which is 10-15 miles up the highway from Chilao.
posted by notyou at 7:45 AM on June 4, 2007

Joshua Tree is a great suggestion for spring camping when everything is in bloom. Very popular and no reservations, so the trick is to show up mid-week, or cruise the campgrounds when people are leaving to nab a spot. A fall-back I've only needed once is the Blackrock campground in town which is not so esthetic but generally has some spots open. You can reserve at Blackrock.

Pt. Mugu is an excellent suggestion for the great hiking trails nearby. La Jolla Canyon for hiking and Sycamore Canyon for Biking and, for the adventurous, the old Chumash Trail up to Mugu Peak and into a valley with the site of an old Indian Village, middens still in evidence. Further up the coast, McGrath State Beach has better campsites but the only hiking close by is the beach itself, which is quite picturesque, with a migratory bird preserve.

There are a few campsites which take reservations around Idyllwild. The ones closest to town are nice in that you can walk into town for some fine dining but I prefer Stone Creek, about six miles out of town with campsites more widely spaced for privacy and low traffic. Great hiking all around the area.
posted by Manjusri at 8:45 AM on June 4, 2007

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