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.
Though small, Ventura County boasts quite a bit of undeveloped coastline with camping opportunities dotted alongside. The only trouble is that railroad tracks, the 101 Freeway, or the Pacific Coast Highway (and sometimes all three) run right next to what might be your digs for the night. Enduring that will allow enjoyment of this very fine section of Southern California coast.
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.
Point Mugu State Park
Set along 3.5 miles of shoreline, Point Mugu State Park comprises an impressive array of bluffs, beaches, sand dunes, river canyons, grassy valleys, and mountains. Seventy miles of hiking trails lead from the shore to peaks at Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, popular among mountain bikers. (Though there is a sandy beach, the exposed, rocky coastline is not ideal for swimming.) At this park, it's easier to find solitude and wilderness than almost anywhere along Southern California's coast. Those who wish to camp can make the place their overnight home at 140 sites.
Emma Wood State Beach
Though the coast here is beautiful, this RV-only campground with about 100 sites is near railroad tracks and the freeway. Still, the location, near a deservedly super popular surf spot, beach boardwalk, and county fairgrounds, is hard to beat.
Faria County Park and Park Number Three
Like Emma Wood State Beach, these neighboring RV campgrounds (both are part of Faria County Beach Park) are situated in a narrow coastal ribbon between the beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. Traffic might be a nuisance, but waking up to the sounds of breaking waves, and laying claim to such a lovely piece of the great outdoors might well make up for it.
Hobson County Beach Park
Hobson County Beach Park is another roadside-and-beachside RV campground. If you can stand the trains and the freeway, you can stake a claim of prime beachfront property.