The Best Camping Spots In Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Park
Image by Wikicommons

Looking to backpack through the Los Padres National Forest and want to try camping there for a few days? You already made the right decision by picking this place. It is one visited by many every year and has a unique beauty that you can only find here. 

The Los Padres National Forest is, as the name says, a national forest. It is located in southern and central California, in the United States of America — the southwest region. The area of Los Padres includes most of the mountainous land in California, which makes it even more special. California is not only for rollerblading near the water but for camping and hiking too. 

88% of the land in the Los Padres National Forest is public land, leaving only 12% for the rest, which is privately held. The Northern part of the forest is very popular for backpackers and tourists because it has many campgrounds, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and scenic views. 

The forest is basically formed of two types of areas — the recreational one, suitable for tourists less experienced with the outdoors, and the wilderness one, which maybe is more for experienced backpackers, campers, and hikers. 

The name Los Padres of the national forest in California is inspired by the Catholic missionary priests of the Spanish missions who first came to the area in the 18th century. 

On this campground, you can go fishing, horseback riding, paddling, swimming, biking, or hiking. Just pay attention to the rules. Sometimes fires are not permitted in the area. 

The Padre forest is a welcoming place for campers to spend a few nights under the clear sky, breathing clean air, and just relaxing. Here are the top 10 campgrounds for your trip to Los Padres National Forest: 

Davy Brown Campground In Los Padres National Forest

Davy Brown Campground In Los Padres National Forest
Image by Will Langenberg on Unsplash

The Davy Brown Campground in Los Padres National Forest is one of the first choices for campers traveling here. It’s close to Santa Barbara and is located near a creek with waterfalls. 

The campgrounds do not offer the possibility of booking your stay. It is simply a first-come, first-serve kind of place. And it is understandable, since in nature, people tend to be more relaxed. 

The site offers picnic tables, toilets, and allows fires. You have to bring your own camping equipment like tents and other items you might need — sleeping bags, blankets, flashlights, and more. 

You will enjoy a picturesque view from here and lots of walks through nature and hikes nearby.

The Campgrounds Of Colson Canyon Camp

The Campgrounds Of Colson Canyon Camp In Los Padres National Forest
Image by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash

The campgrounds of Colson Canyon Camp are located near the city of Santa Maria. They are small but nicely organized. They also use the first-come, first-serve system. 

In the area of this camping spot, you can enjoy some peaceful activities like nature watching and walking, but also more physical ones, like mountain biking and hiking. 

Bring your own camping equipment — tent, sleeping bags, and so on. Make sure you ask before starting a campfire, so it will be a safe activity. Toilets are available, as well as picnic tables. If you own pets, bring them too! 

Before heading there, call a range and ask for details about the number of spots available in this camping site in California National Forest.

Wheeler Gorge Campground On The National Forest Map

Wheeler Gorge Campground On The National Forest Map Of Los Padres National Forest
Image by Laura Pluth on Unsplash

Are you looking for a sunbath near water while visiting California National Forest? Wheeler Gorge Campground on the national forest map has a nice place nearby for this. It is not a beach but almost looks like one. Bring your swimsuit! 

It has more than 65 sites where you can camp. Each one of these comes with its own picnic table, barbeque place, and fire ring! Some say you should not tell you friends about it so they won’t steal the free spot from you. 

They allow pets and they have toilets. Compared to the first two we recommend, this one offers the possibility of booking in advance. Look it up and book your stay fast. 

Middle Lion Campground In California National Forest

Middle Lion Campground In California National Forest In Los Padres National Forest
Image by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash

Here is a wonderful place where you can enjoy a nice view of the mountains in the California National Forest. It is located near a waterfall. When you feel like the heat is too much, just take a walk to the running water. You will instantly be refreshed and full of energy again. 

This campground in Los Padres National Forest has only eight sites where you can camp. Campfires are allowed, pets as well, picnic tables and toilets too. Just don’t forget your camping equipment at home! 

Ballinger Campground, Great Place For Campers

Ballinger Campground In Los Padres National Forest
Image by Jake Melara on Unsplash

What do you say to a place for campers near an ample view of the water? Hit the road and get there first, so you can catch one of the 20 sites available on the campground. 

Ballinger Campground is a great place for many reasons, not only the water view. The road that takes you there is a dirt road. It might not sound so good, but it is! Simply because is a nice change from the usual roads we use every day. 

You have to bring your own tent and everything else you might need. You can use the picnic tables available and the toilets. And don’t leave your pets at home! Bring them along on your adventure. 

Bates Canyon Campground

Bates Canyon Campground In Los Padres National Forest
Image by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Check the national forest map before deciding on which area of the California National Forest to travel. Some areas cannot allow big vehicles. This is not because other people simply don’t want to, but because some zones are difficult to navigate. 

Bates Canyon Campgrounds represent a beautiful choice for camping. You will enjoy time near the water, in the sun, and under the stars. 

There are 8 sites available on this campers’ place in Los Padres National Forest. Usually they fill up quickly, so hurry up and make that call to the ranger and ask for details. 

Like all other places, this too has toilets, picnic tables, and allows pets. 

P-Bar Flat Campground

P-Bar Flat Campground
Image by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

This area is beautiful during summer and fall. The vegetation here changes into colorful reds during the autumn. It is located near Santa Barbara and the Big Caliente Hot Springs. 

Campfires and pets are allowed, toilets and picnic tables are available. You will only need your own tent and you will be ready for sleeping under the stars for as many nights as you would like in Los Padres National Forest. 

Besides the hot springs, you can skim here, visit caves, a river, a lake, a waterfall, and even go to the beach!

Rock Camp Campground

Rock Camp Campground
Image by Chris Holder on Unsplash

The Rock Camp Campgrounds are also located near the Big Caliente Hot Springs and yes, there is plenty to do around this place too. 

You can see redwoods, walk through the forest, take a swim, go to the beach, refresh in a river, enjoy a lake view, and more. Fishing, horseback riding, and paddling are just some examples of the physical activities you can try around here. 

This place has only two camping sites, so the exclusive name is a fitted one. Call some friends and maybe you can have it all just for yourselves.

Figueroa Campground

Figueroa Campground
Image by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Simply put, these campgrounds are a must for anyone interested in natural life. Many species of birds can be spotted here and the place is known for being rich in wildflower types.

It offers more than 30 sites for camping, which means you can relax. Most likely, you will find one for yourself. As usual, just bring your own tent and sleeping bag. 

The place on the national forest map offers picnic tables and toilets for everyone. They also allow pets and campfires. Figueroa is a nice, quiet, and an almost wild spot where you can sleep.

Pine Mountain Campground

Pine Mountain Campground
Image by Cindy Chen on Unsplash

Pine Mountain is a good option for you if you are looking for some solitude, but also an adventure with friends, and why not, strangers. 

Pack your tent and sleeping bag and head there immediately. You can hike, bike, swim, ride horses, and try many other outdoor activities. You can make your own campfire and enjoy a cold drink under the clear, blue sky. 

As you can see, you have plenty of campgrounds to choose from. The Los Padres National Forest is home to many more than presented here. When you finally decide on one to stay in, make sure that it has all the facilities you need. 

Most campers are in search of a simpler lifestyle when they go camping. But backpackers who travel with families and small children might need some extra comfort. That is fine too, even recommended. 

Another way to go is to take out the national forest map and just point somewhere with your eyes closed. Simply travel where destiny leads you. The California National Forest is a big place, which means that even when you decide to sleep in one place, you still can enjoy a lot of adventures on your excursion. 

Home to forest grounds, campgrounds, waters of many types, mountainous and flat areas, the trip to the Padre Zone will bring lots of excitement in your life. After you return home, you’ll have many wonderful memories to share and even some cool pictures to show to those who decided to skip it. Don’t be one of them, pack your backpack and go on some of the most beautiful campgrounds in the United States of America.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here