5 of Santa Barbara County's Best Coastal Campgrounds | KCET
5 of Santa Barbara County's Best Coastal Campgrounds
This guide is part of KCET's California Coastal Trail project, which looks at the state's massive undertaking to build a trail over 1,000 miles in length along its whole coastline.
Santa Barbara's stunning coast was made for recreation. It has rocky coves, bluffs, coastal meadows, sandy beaches close to urban centers and far from anything, and mountains that sometimes reach nearly into the water. The highway is close to some of the campgrounds, but never to the point of being an irritant. The only flaw with this county's coast might be that the private Hollister Ranch eats up a significant chunk of it. Luckily, plentiful state and county parks let the public enjoy much of the rest.
Note: We've tried to feature only campgrounds with the best coastal sights, sounds, and smells. Many of those places are state-owned because the parks system boasts so much of California's best seaside real estate.
Not surprisingly, the beaches are among the busiest parks in the state. Reservations can be made up to seven months in advance through ReserveAmerica.com. Book as soon as possible because many sites get snagged the day they become available. Cancellations can also free up previously booked sites, so watch for that. Thanks to CampsitePhotos.com, images of just about every individual site are available online, letting you choose a spot in the shade of a sycamore with just the right view. Unless otherwise stated, sites permit both tents and RVs or trailers. Some companies deliver RVs directly to campgrounds, making it possible to enjoy a road hotel without the need to pilot one on the highway; rental information can be found on most state park websites.
Carpinteria State Beach
El Capitan State Beach
Refugio State Beach
Gaviota State Beach
Jalama County Beach Park
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