Beautiful California Camping Spots


Paige Reddick

My campsite is placed under a massive tree canopy at the Buck Rock Campground in the Sequoia National Forest. Source: Paige Reddick

Paige Reddick, Photojounalist

As the pandemic has pushed us to participate in activities promoting social distancing, spending time outdoors has become an even more popular practice. One activity in particular includes camping. Camping allows for friends and family to enjoy the beauty of the natural world, follow recommended health guidelines, and create irreplaceable memories. I want to share three camping destinations around southern and central California that have provided me with incredible experiences.


The first camping destination is Kern River, which is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains in an area northeast of Bakersfield. The river runs from the Central Valley to Buena Vista Lake. There are campgrounds scattered along this 164-mile river, bringing in numerous campers and adventurers every year. This river contains both rough rapids and shallow, calm sections—providing activities ranging from whitewater rafting, fishing, and swimming in designated areas. Camping spots are usually free along the river. While visits can last for just a day, camping out in cars and tents is common. Waking up to the sound of the rushing rapids is a unique and exciting experience. The light green vegetation and sculpture-like boulders surround the river, creating an oasis of beauty and adventure for all visitors!


The second camping destination I recommend is Buck Rock Campground in the Sequoia National Forest. A part of the Hume Lake Ranger District, Buck Rock sits at an altitude of around 7,600 feet, surrounded by captivating views in every direction. As sequoia trees tower above, the picturesque mountains stagger to the horizon. This campground offers a picnic table and a fire pit at each site and is extremely well kept, providing a safe and comfortable stay. Nearby, the Buck Rock Lookout sits at an altitude of 8,502 feet. This site serves as a fire lookout. Depending on the weather and time of year, visitors are able to hike up to the lookout by climbing multiple flights of stairs. The view of a valley full of forest green is worth the trek. I highly recommend this campsite to anyone who enjoys the beauty of the mountains. It really is a special place.


Lastly, I recommend any campground in the Big Sur area. Big Sur, located between the San Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, is a long, narrow region of the coast of central California. Bordered by State Route 1, or Pacific Coast Highway, this strip of hills covered with redwoods and oak trees with rocky cliffs extending out into the Pacific is full of utter beauty. Lauren Lanning (12) passes through Big Sur frequently on her annual vacation up the Pacific coast to Oregon. She loves “stopping in Big Sur to take in all its scenery and can’t wait to camp in the area with [her] family.” Any campsite along Big Sur is guaranteed to be an incredible experience. Although, the campsites offering views of the Pacific Ocean are the most surreal. Big Sur offers multiple hiking trails, along with activities closer to Pacific Coast Highway. Restaurants and shops line the coast, offering hospitality in this quaint region. Big Sur is an opportunity to experience the California coast from a new perspective, a new location, and a new altitude. 


All three of these campsites are in very different regions. However, they all offer similar experiences. I have made unforgettable memories in all three of these locations. No matter the time of year or the company I am with, these campsites reveal the beauty of California through varying perspectives: the valley, the mountains, and the coast. I hope you Mustangs are able to find inspiration from these campsites to either visit them or another campsite nearby!