California Camping

Local camping spots to visit when summer break begins

By Kalil Bushala, Contributor

With summer right around the corner, it’s time to start planning your getaways.

You might be taking summer classes, fulfilling that internship requirement or working a summer job. Either way, it’s time to close those school books and experience the beautiful features California has to offer — from the mountains, to the deserts, to the beaches.

California really has it all.

Here are a few local places that you might want to consider visiting during your summer vacation.

Joshua Tree National Park
Credit: National Park Service/Lian Law

Before the weather gets too hot, you should probably pick Joshua Tree as your first destination. The park straddles the Colorado and the Mojave Desert. The intense heat is practically a given, but worth tolerating after sleeping under the never-ending blanket of stars and staring at the rugged rock formations.

The campsites operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to get there early if you want to camp out. You can also climb the rock formations that are the size of buildings, or embark on the designated hiking trails throughout the park. Whatever you decide to do, you won’t be disappointed.

Crystal Cove State Park
Credit: Official Crystal Cove State Park website

The 3.2 miles of Pacific coastline offer plenty of activities to keep you occupied among nature. Crystal Cove State Park is home to various types of wildlife. You can examine the creatures swimming in the tide pools and the reptiles lurking among the trails in the canyons. This place will fulfill your hunger for nature.

As you walk along the beach, you can see that the ocean waves have carved into the cliffs that parallel to Pacific Coast Highway. The State park also has four hiking trails that range in distance. From these trails, you’re able to see the undeveloped natural canyons, something you may not be used to if you’re from the city. The ocean breeze will be right at your side while you’re hiking, but don’t forget to bring sunscreen for those extreme summer sun rays.

Crystal Cove additionally offers campgrounds with a fee of $25 per night. You’ll have to hike out to the campsites, which are located 3 miles inland from the parking lot. These sites aren’t on the beach so be prepared with hiking boots and a tent. Reservations are made at

Pine Knot — Big Bear
Credit: Official US Forest Service website

Pine Knot, a campground in the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest, is a prime spot for mountain biking, hiking or relaxing. The Pine Knot village, located in Big Bear City, is near the campgrounds in case you wanted to visit the gift shop, have a spa day or ride a Segway. Pine Knot would be a great place to bring your family since you’re not limited on just hiking or hanging out at the beach or in the heat of the desert.

The Pine Knot Trail reaches an elevation of 7,784 feet, so it’s important to bring plenty of water for the hikes since you’ll be at higher elevation, which you’re probably not used to. Hiking boots are a must if you plan to explore the surrounding trails. Be aware that bear sightings are not a rare thing, especially in the summer. But they’re typically more scared of you and are harmless, if you take the right precautions.

In California, you can feel the power of the ocean waves, drift to sleep under the stars or take in the scent of pine all in one day. It’s time to take advantage of what California really has to offer. Your semester is finally coming to an end and it’s time to let nature refresh your brain.

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