Top 6 Boondocking Southern California Locations (Beach, BLM)

One of the problems with boondocking in Southern California is that the majority of large cities are located in that region. That makes it especially difficult to boondock in those areas. But that region is not without places to go.

Even though there are quite a few larger cities in Southern California, there are still very good places to boondock. However, these spots may not be too close to the beach as that is where everyone goes and if you want to get away from the crowd, you should try other locations.

To learn more about these great boondocking locations, just continue to read our article. It has the pros and cons of each spot making sure you know what you are getting into. Take a few minutes to see if these locations suit your travel plans and fit in with your ultimate destinations.

Where Can You Boondock in Southern California?


Depending on where you go, boondocking is legal to do in Southern California. However, if you are going to be within city limits, you should check the local laws to see where you are allowed to park for a few nights. Here are a few good locations you can try if you do not need a beach right at your doorstep:

1. Owens River Road

The location is just right as this site is between mammoth lakes and June Lake in the Inyo National Forest. You can have peace and quiet yet remain fairly close to those activities you want to do while on holiday. Also, supplies are not that far away as well.

Some of the positive aspects of this location are: close to lakes, has some paved roads, RVs up to 40 feet are welcome, beautiful scenery and lots of shade.

However, not every location is perfect as one negative is that you do need a fire permit ad you can only stay up to 28 days in a 6 month period. There is no long-term camping here. Also, there are other rules and regulations you need to follow if your stay is going to be any good.

2. Clark Lake, Borrego Springs

This and the Peg Leg Smith historical marker are popular and ideal spots to rest from a long journey. The area lies about 650 feet above sea level and comes with some very good winter weather. If you like a crowd then stay at the main site at Peg Leg Smith area but if you don’t there are less frequented campsites at Clark Lake that give plenty of space to stretch your legs.

Other positives are that you can pitch a tent or drive an RV into the campsite and have a good time. The desert comes with its own dangers which would be the biggest negative for these sites.

3. Anza Borrego Desert

This is an area that offers multiple boondocking opportunities. Your difficulty will be in deciding which one you should camp at. The best part is that they are all free or almost all of them are free.

Then this area offers you a chance to do a variety of different recreational activities including using your ATV, lift truck, and other toys. You just have to pick the campground closest to where those activities can be done.

The negative is that this area is a dry lake and water may be your biggest issue.

Finding Dispersed Camping in Southern California


This is not going to be too difficult to do or find in Southern California. If you do not know what dispersed camping entails, all the term refers to is camping outside of designated campsites. In other words, you are going to be roughing it even when you have a trailer or RV attached to your car.

The positive aspects of disperse camping are that, one, it is usually free to do, and two, you can do it usually on federal land without any issues. A third reason to do this type of camping is that you get to test your camping skills and fortitude.

The negative aspect of this style of camping is that you are basically on your own. There are no campground managers nearby to assist you if you have problems. Also, you are unprotected from many elements including wild animals and those humans who do not care to follow the law.

Also, and this can be either a good or bad aspect, you will be away from any cell phone signals. There may be weak ones but those are as bad or as good as being without a signal at all. The areas to check in Southern California would be the different National Parks, National Recreation Areas, and National Forests.

There are websites available that should fill you in on the rules as well as how safe these areas are. There will be fire warnings so pay special attention to those as the higher the warning the less likely you will be able to have a fire.

Free Beach Camping in Southern California


This may be placed on your bucket list as free beach camping in Southern California may be a thing from the past. In other words, you are going to have to do a lot of searching to see if any campsite allows you to camp for free.

Of all the resources we checked, not one listed any beach campground as free. You will have to pay for the privilege to camp with the sand under your feet. In this region. That doesn't mean there are not somewhere you can camp for free, it just means they are either not very good locations or no one wants to give up their secret get-a-way spot.

A word to the wise though. Many places offer beach camping but the reality is that they are so far from the beach you may have to book a plane ride to see those waves come in. In other words, they are using the word beach to get you to come to their campground even though you may be high on a cliff or need a telescope to see those waves.

Best BLM Camping in Southern California


1. Abbott Creek Camping Area

This camping area is in the Sequoia National Forest and all the campsites are within 3 miles of the OHV staging area. So if you want some off-road fun, this is the place to go. The other best part of this location is that it is listed as a free place to camp. Get there early in order to find a good spot.

The biggest negative will be that you will have to endure all the noise those gas-powered vehicles create. Plus, the smoke and fumes that may drift by your campsite.

2. Alder Creek Dispersed Camping

This is also in the Sequoia National Forest and it provides a nice break from the Abbott Creek location and all of its noise, etc. The biggest positive here is that you can get back to nature, test your camping skills as well as enjoy the great outdoors as the original explorers and adventurers did.

The biggest negative will be that you are on your own and you will need to make sure you have the food, water, and other supplies to cover your stay at this campsite. There may be some additional rules and regulations you need to follow to ensure that the campground remains in pristine condition for the next visitor.

3. Blair Valley Campground

This camping site is near Joshua Tree National Park. Its biggest plus is that you get this incredible view of the night sky. The next positive you get while staying here is that the area is large so you won’t be stepping on your neighbor’s toes when you set out your barbeque equipment and chairs.

The biggest negative to this location is that its roads are not made for the big RVs. That can include heavy 5th wheel trailers and campers. There is low clearance and the roads can be very sandy at times.

If you are a rock climber this is a good spot to go to as you can visit the Joshua Tree park and then get away from the crowds by driving back to this campsite. Then do your climbing at your own leisure. There are lots of trails to explore as well.

One last negative will be that there is little shade so pack accordingly.

Some Final Words

Finding good locations to boondock in Southern California is not going to be a difficult task. The hard part is picking the right season to go. If you go in peak season you may not be able to get a good spot as the crowds will have beaten you to them.

Do some good research before you go and find those locations that are close to food and water stores as well as far away from the crowds.

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