8 Great Camping Sites Near Los Angeles

When you think about visiting Los Angeles, camping may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But while L.A.’s main claim to fame may not be its camping, just outside the bustling city there are some excellent camping getaways. It’s worth remembering that Los Angeles is bordered on three sides by mountains, and one side by ocean, which means easy access to nature and camping locations within a short distance from the city.

Read on for eight of the best campsites within two hours of Downtown L.A., where you can spend more time getting in touch with Mother Nature, and less time scouring the Internet.

Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Creek State Park | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Malibu Creek Campground, Malibu Creek State Park

As of Dec. 18, 2018, Malibu Creek State Park has reopened the day-use areas and the backcountry of the park following the devastating Woolsey Fire. The campground remains closed until further notice. For the latest information on how the recent wildfires have impacted our California state parks, visit www.parks.ca.gov/newsroom.

Miles from Downtown L.A.: 36
Number of Sites: 63
Searching for some great camping nearby? Malibu Creek is a great option for the beginner camper, or the camper who wants to escape the city, but doesn’t have the time for a long drive. However, don’t let the amenities and close proximity to Los Angeles fool you – Malibu Creek still has a lot of wilderness to explore. There are over 15 miles of trails that run along Malibu Creek, which are popular among runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. The park also caters to rock climbers with over 100 bolted sport climbs.

Each campground includes a picnic table and fire pit. On-premise, there are also showers and drinking water. Despite the remote feeling of Malibu Creek camp, it’s very close to LA, which means sites can book well in advance during the busy summer season which typically runs from March to October. Sites are $45/night.

Local Scoop: If you’re looking for a bit of classic television history you’ll find it in Malibu Creek State Park. Follow a well-graded fire road for 2.5 miles to reach the site where the popular television show M*A*S*H was filmed. There you will find informational signs as well as some leftover set dressing and props. On your way back from the M*A*S*H site, stop by the rock pool to cool off and partake in some cliff diving.

Newcomb's Ranch in the Angeles National Forest
Newcomb’s Ranch in the Angeles National Forest | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Meadow Group Campground, Angeles National Forest

Miles from Downtown L.A.: 41
Number of Sites: 2 (Site one accommodates 24 people, site two up to 80 people)
There are many camping places to choose from but at 5,300 feet above sea level, Meadow Group Campground is a great choice for a weekend getaway for you and your friends. Relax in the cool mountain air, grill up some s’mores, and bust out the guitar for a campfire sing-along. And if after all that revelry you need a little time with Mama Nature, the campground is located a half-mile from the Silver Moccasin Trail, a 53-miler that cuts through the center of Angeles National Forest.

Each site has picnic tables, fire pits, and a water spigot. Reservations for both sites must be made more than four days in advance. Site one costs $36/night and site two costs $120/night.

Local Scoop: Just two miles down the road is Newcomb’s Ranch, a restaurant, bar, general store, and gas station. Grab a burger and some of their killer fries, and check out the parade of motorcycles outside. On busy weekends it’s not uncommon for hundreds of bikers to cruise through Angeles National Forest, often stopping at Newcomb’s Ranch.

Buckhorn Campground in the Angeles National Forest
Buckhorn Campground in the Angeles National Forest | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

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