5 Amazing Places to Camp in California For the Winter

andrewling

Camping in the winter can be tough. Many places around the US are completely inaccessible or buried in snow. California is known for its great beaches and sunsets, but here are five of the best places to camp in California all throughout winter!

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Photo: National Park Service

1. Joshua Tree National Park

Camping at low altitude here will be the key to finding spots that aren't buried in snow. Heading into this colder season, you'll need to plan carefully to find the best places for California winter camping. The mountains are starting to get buried in snow, and many areas at elevation will be home to freezing temperatures.

Luckily, southern california is home to lots of desert for winter camping. The climate here is perfect for exploring hiking trails, and going on sunset hikes, to camping at night and sleeping under the stars.

Fall and winter are actually a very busy time of year in Joshua Tree, as summer season is very hot. Make sure you still get a reservation (even though it's winter) and/or make backup plans just in case. Campgrounds usually fill up all the way from October to May. Joshua Tree National Park is an iconc camping area to see beautiful views on the stars, and experience the desert. Enjoy this vastness!

Temperatures can get to below freezing in the high-desert, so be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag/lots of blankets, and warm clothing!

Specifically, Jumbo Rocks Campground is one of my favorites! There is a rock that looks like a skull (Skull Rock) here so keep an eye out for that! If you're lucky, some campsite neighbors may even have a telescope. Joshua Tree is a fantastic place for stargazing.

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Photo: National Park Service

2. Death Valley National Park

There are truly SO many spots to check out and camp inside Death Valley National Park. With the cooler weather, it is actually one of the best times of go. Also, there are hundreds of sites available here. Look for desert wildlife, gaze up at the stars, and enjoy how peaceful and quiet it is here.

Be sure to check out Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, with some more than 100 feet high. Although these aren't Death Valley's highest dunes (those are the Eureka Dunes) they are the most accessible. Without any marked trails, be sure to pay attention to where you are. Go for sunrise or sunset and see the beautiful changing colors!

If it is hot out, take a look a cooling off at the nearby Darwin Falls. It is a hike up a river bed which leads to a refreshing waterfall!

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Photo: National Park Service

3. Wild Willy Hot Springs (Owens River Valley)

The Wild Willy Hot Springs near Owens River Valley is a lesser known, but great spot near some amazing hot springs! It is just off of highway 395 outside Mammoth, California and is a must see! The pools are the perfect soaking temperature at just around 100 degrees F. There are campsites all around the valley depending what you are looking for. Be sure to also check out Convict Lake nearby for camping and more facilities!

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4. Mojave Desert (Tecopa Hot Springs)

The Tecopa Hot Springs near the Mojave Desert are natural springs located in a relaxing and quiet environment. The springs are a great soaking temperature around 100 degrees F. Tecopa Hot Springs are right on the way to Death Valley (note this in your planning as there are several routes to get into Death Valley). This area has lots of entertainment, restaurants, hiking, off-road adventures etc. so look more into this place for additional activities! Do note closures due to COVID-19 and plan in advance. Either way, leave the urban life behind and enjoy the relaxation of these geothermal waters as they melt your stress away.

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Photo: National Park Service

5. San Elijo Beach (San Diego)

Located down on the San Diego Coast, San Elijo State Beach offers fantastic swimming, surfing, picnicking, and of course camping! This is a narrow, bluff-backed stretch of beautiful sand that has a nearby reef popular with divers and even snorkelers. There is a camp store nearby and snack bar (operates only March through December). There is also firewood available here!

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