Outdoors

Planning a camping trip? Here are the best spots in SLO County

San Luis Obispo County has a diverse mix of camping options. From beachside sites in Morro Bay to spots next to Lake Nacimiento and everything in between.

It would take a while to list every camping spot in SLO County, but here are 10 of our favorites.

Morro Strand State Beach Campground

The Morro Strand State Beach Campground is located just north of Morro Bay off Highway 1. More than 70 tent or RV spaces with fire rings are set up along the beach and offer a clear view of Morro Rock. It’s a sweet spot for campers who also like to surf as the ocean serves up pretty good waves right next to the site, especially during fall and winter.

Fees: Standard $35 per night, full hookup $50 per night (campers over 62 get a $2 discount). An additional $7.99 for processing a reservation will be charged.

More Info: Call 805-772-8812, visit the California Department of Parks and Recreation website at Parks.Ca.gov or search “Morro Strand SB” at ReserveCalifornia.com.

Cerro Alto Campground

The Cerro Alto Campground, resting 1,000 feet above sea level, is located off Highway 41 about halfway between Morro Bay and Atascadero in the Los Padres National Forest. The main attraction for this site is Cerro Alto, which with a 2,642-foot summit is one of the highest peaks in SLO County. At the top on a clear day, every major SLO County landmark is visible, and the trails are perfect for hiking and mountain biking. The campground has 22 units, and several of the sites are walk-ins. Seven sites operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Fees: $25 per night, no RV hook-ups

More Info: Call 805-434-1996, go to the USDA Forest Service website or visit Recreation.gov to make a reservation and learn more about the campground.

Read Next

North Beach Campground, Pismo Beach

This campground with 103 sites is located just south of downtown Pismo Beach on Highway 1. It’s a good spot if you want to camp where you can hear the waves crash but also want to be close to a bunch of restaurants and outlet stores. There are beautiful dunes, good surfing nearby and it’s located right next to the Monarch Butterfly Grove, where every year thousands of Monarch Butterflies flock to a eucalyptus grove from October to February.

Fees: Peak season: $35 per night; off-peak, $25 per night. An additional $7.99 for processing a reservation will be charged.

More Info: Call 805-473-7220, visit the California State Parks website or reserve by searching “Pismo SB” at ReserveCalifornia.com.

Montana de Oro
Cumulus clouds fill the sky overlooking Montaña de Oro State Park and Estero Bay. Courtesy John Lindsey

Islay Creek Campground, Montaña de Oro

If you want to camp without cell phone service, this campground with about 50 spots located in Montaña de Oro State Park a few miles from Los Osos is the place to go. It’s a great spot for brave surfers, hikers and tide-pool explorers. There are also secluded beaches like Spooner’s Cove and equestrian trails nearby. It’s close to Point Buchon State Marine Reserve, which is known for its California Poppy blooms. Dogs are permitted in campsites but not on trails or beaches, except for Spooner’s Cove. Reservations are accepted during the summer, but during the winter the sites are first-come first-serve.

Fees: $25 per night, $23 for seniors; no RV hook-ups; $10 for extra vehicle. An additional $7.99 for processing a reservation will be charged.

Info: Call 805-772-7434, visit the California State Parks website or reserve by searching “Montana De Oro SP” on ReserveCalifornia.com.

Wild_Art_SB_Lopez025
A pair of fisherman cast their lines into the waters of Lopez Lake. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Lopez Lake Campground

The Lopez Lake Campground is located about 10 miles from Arroyo Grande. There’s tons of stuff to do, from hiking, boating and biking to fishing, horseback riding and zip lining. There are 350 tent spots and full hook-ups for RVs. There are also cabins available and a marina on site.

Fees: $23-$25 per night for tent sites (depending on season), $37-$40 per night for full RV hook-up sites. Primitive sites with electrical outlets available for $29. Price does not include $9 reservation fee.

Info: Call 805-788-2381 or get more information and make reservations at SLOCountyParks.org.

Lakenacimiento.JPG
Lake Nacimiento (File Photo) Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Lake Nacimiento Resort

The Lake Nacimiento Resort is located in the northern part of SLO County about 15 miles from Paso Robles. It’s especially popular for boaters and anglers who want a chance to fight the famous white bass. There are more than 300 sites, 40 with full RV hook-ups, spread across seven different campgrounds including areas that cozy up right next to the lake. Some are first-come, first-serve, while others require a reservation.

Fees: $27-$32 per night (depending on season) for tent sites and $37-$42 per night for RV hook-ups. All reservations subject to $9 reservation fee. Boat fees extra.

Info: Call 805-237-4924 to make a reservation or get more information at NacimientoResort.com.

Blue waves
Glowing blue waves, caused by bioluminescent dinoflagellates, create a mesmerizing scene near the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur. George Krieger george@whirlingtripod.com

Big Sur campgrounds

OK, so Big Sur isn’t technically located in SLO County, but it’s close enough to mention. Big Sur is a little more than a 30-minute drive from Cambria and offers spectacular Pacific Ocean views and some of the best secluded camping in California. There are State Parks and privately owned campgrounds with streamside and ocean-view spots. There is endless natural beauty to explore, whether you’re hiking or surfing. Some of the best spots include Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park with its waterfalls, redwoods and ocean views, and the Kirk Creek Campground, which is about 45 miles from Cambria and is popular for surfers and anglers alike.

Fees: Prices vary so check each individual campground for fees.

More Info: Find a list of 15 of the best Big Sur campgrounds at BigSurCalifornia.org.

Read Next

SantaMargaritaAfter (2)
Santa Margarita Lake (File Photo) Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Santa Margarita Lake Recreational Area

The Santa Margarita Lake Recreational Area is about a 30-minute drive from San Luis Obispo. There are 60 primitive campsites on the grounds spread over six distinct campgrounds with no RV hook-ups. The lake provides opportunities for fishing and boating but no swimming (the lake is a drinking water reservoir for the city of San Luis Obispo). But there is a pool onsite that is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day and plenty of other things to do like hiking, horsebackriding and mountainbiking.

Fees: $23-$25 per night for tent sites (depending on season), $37-$40 per night for full RV hook-up sites. Primitive sites with electrical outlets available for $29. Price does not include $9 reservation fee.

Info: Call 805-788-2397 or get more information and make reservations at SLOCountyParks.org.

0114 Tina Dickason after 1 p.m. 1-6 San Simeon Lagoon breaking thru
San Simeon Creek breaks through to the ocean Jan. 6. Tina Dickason Special to The Cambrian

San Simeon Creek Campground

Located in the Hearst San Simeon State Park, the San Simeon Creek Campground is located about 35 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1 and 5 miles south of Hearst Castle. One of the oldest campgrounds in the California State Park system, there are 115 campsites for tent camping or RVs, but no RV hook-ups. Washburn Campground is also located in the park and features primitive campsites. The park includes views of the scenic cliffs and is a short drive from the world's largest elephant seal rookery.

Fees: $35 per night at San Simeon Creek, $20 per night at Washburn.

Info: Call 805-927-2010, visit the California State Parks website or reserve by searching “Montana De Oro SP” on ReserveCalifornia.com.

Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area Campground

You can drive, camp and build a fire on the beach at the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area Campground, which is about a 10-minute drive south from Pismo Beach. Camping is allowed 1 mile south of Pier Avenue in Oceano and marks the beginning of the OHV area where sand dunes create a complex and impressive playground for off-highway enthusiasts. Beach camping is recommended for four-wheel drive vehicles only. Vault toilets available.

Fees: $10 overnight (an additional $7.99 for processing a reservation will be charged), $5 day use; no RV hook-up

Info: Call 1-800-444-7275, visit the California State Parks website or reserve by searching “Oceano Dunes SVRA” on ReserveCalifornia.com.

  Comments