California Camping
Book Review

Pacific Coast Highway Travel's California Camping book review rates the 20th anniversary edition of Moon's complete guide to over 1400 tent and RV campgrounds.

Camping in CaliforniaCamping in California

One of the most viewed book reviews on our website is the Moon Guide to West Coast RV Camping by Tom Stienstra. The same author has also written Moon's guide to California Camping, and although this one covers the whole state and not just the west coast, it will be incredibly useful to anyone planning a west coast camping trip.

Over 1400 tent and RV campgrounds are covered in great detail in this mammoth guide of almost 900 pages, along with a wealth of other material and advice about camping in California. It includes money-saving tips, advice on campfires, and how to keep the critters out of your food, and out of your hair.

Moon California Camping Guide sample pageMoon California Camping Guide Sample Page

Best California Campgrounds

The author opens the book by listing his best California campgrounds, using different criteria. Among the ones along or close to the west coast are:

Best Scenic California Campgrounds

Best California Campgrounds for Families

Best California Campground Island Retreats

  • Santa Catalina Island Boat-In
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Two Harbors, near Los Angeles
  • Santa Rosa Island, near Santa Barbara
  • Angel Island State Park, near San Francisco
  • Anacapa Island, near Santa Barbara
  • San Miguel Island, near Santa Barbara
  • Little Harbor Hike-In, near Los Angeles
  • Parsons Landing Hike-In, near Los Angeles
Moon California Camping Guide: Best CampgroundsMoon California Camping Guide:
Best Campgrounds

California Camping Tips

There are then over 50 pages of camping tips, most of them general and a few applicable to camping in California. After these comes the main section, the descriptions of campgrounds, and this runs to almost 800 pages. It's divided regionally, starting with the Redwood Empire and ending with the California Deserts.

If you're looking for info on Pacific Coast Highway campgrounds then there are sections on Mendocino and Wine Country, the San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey and Big Sur, Santa Barbara and Vicinity, Los Angeles and Vicinity, and San Diego and Vicinity.

Moon California Camping Guide Sample PageMoon California Camping Guide Sample Page

California Campground Descriptions

The biggest chunk of the book is, of course, the descriptions of the individual campgrounds. Each starts with a row of icons letting you know facilities, such as hot springs, pets permitted, swimming, fishing, or wheelchair access. Each site also gets a Scenic Rating out of 10, based purely on how beautiful the campsite and its setting are.

You're then given the rough location ('five miles north of Crescent City'), and then the page number and reference for the map that it's marked on - and there are lots of maps in the book, although they're not detailed enough to enable you to find the exact spot. You'll still need directions or GPS. Fortunately the campsite write-ups end with directions, phone numbers, websites and any other practical information you might need.

Each campsite then has a long paragraph of general introduction, to give an overview and a feel for the place ('It is two miles away from the Turtle Bay Museum and close to a movie theater.') The next section of each entry covers Campsites and Facilities, while the final section tells you about Reservations and Fees. The current rates are given in dollars, with a note of any periods of closure, and whether reservations are accepted or not.

Camping in CaliforniaCamping in California

Comprehensive California Camping!

The work the author put into this book must have been enormous. Imagine how long it would take simply to get the nightly rates for over 1400 places, let alone the other ton of information.

Oh yes, and the author is no run-of-the-mill fact-gatherer, either. Tom Stienstra has been the National Outdoor Writer of the Year twice, and California Outdoor Writer of the Year five times. So as well as being filled with facts, the book is well-written too.

If you're going to be a serious California camper, the book will more than repay the cost by saving you a huge amount of time. Essential.

Other books pages

  • This John Steinbeck California Guide, A Journey into Steinbeck's California, shows readers how towns like Monterey, Carmel and Salinas influenced the author.

    John Steinbeck California Guide

    This John Steinbeck California Guide, A Journey into Steinbeck's California, shows readers how towns like Monterey, Carmel and Salinas influenced the author.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip guide from Moon covering California, Oregon and Washington

    Pacific Coast Highway Moon Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip guide from Moon covering California, Oregon and Washington

  • Some of the best California Backroads are included in Backroads of the California Coast, with 24 highly recommended driving tours off the Pacific Coast Highway.

    California Backroads

    Some of the best California Backroads are included in Backroads of the California Coast, with 24 highly recommended driving tours off the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • The Washington State travel guide from Frommer's covers hotels in Seattle, driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Olympic National Park, where to eat and more.

    Washington State Travel Guide

    The Washington State travel guide from Frommer's covers hotels in Seattle, driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Olympic National Park, where to eat and more.

  • 101 free San Francisco attractions and things to do are in the Kindle guide, 101 Free Things to Do in San Francisco, in the Travel Free eGuidebooks series.

    Free San Francisco Kindle Guide to Free Attractions

    101 free San Francisco attractions and things to do are in the Kindle guide, 101 Free Things to Do in San Francisco, in the Travel Free eGuidebooks series.

  • One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

    California Coast Guide

    One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

  • Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, published by Voyageur Press, is a guide in words and pictures to historic lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast

    Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, published by Voyageur Press, is a guide in words and pictures to historic lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • The Santa Barbara Guidebook from Moon Handbooks also covers California’s Central Coast with Ventura, San Luis Obispo, wine country, and Hearst Castle.

    Santa Barbara Guidebook

    The Santa Barbara Guidebook from Moon Handbooks also covers California’s Central Coast with Ventura, San Luis Obispo, wine country, and Hearst Castle.

  • The Michelin Guide to California is a gourmet's guide to the best restaurants along the Pacific Coast Highway and elsewhere in California.

    Michelin Guide to California

    The Michelin Guide to California is a gourmet's guide to the best restaurants along the Pacific Coast Highway and elsewhere in California.

  • Epic Drives of the World from Lonely Planet describes 50 of the world's most exciting road trips, including, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Epic Drives of the World

    Epic Drives of the World from Lonely Planet describes 50 of the world's most exciting road trips, including, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel's book review of Insider's Guide to San Francisco guidebook by Jill Loeffler, publisher of the San Francisco Tourism Tips website.

    Your Insider's Guide to San Francisco

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's book review of Insider's Guide to San Francisco guidebook by Jill Loeffler, publisher of the San Francisco Tourism Tips website.

  • The Frommer's Guide to Seattle has good information about the city and side excursions to the Olympic National Park and elsewhere, plus free city and area map.

    Frommer's Guide to Seattle

    The Frommer's Guide to Seattle has good information about the city and side excursions to the Olympic National Park and elsewhere, plus free city and area map.

  • Moon's Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula covers hotels, restaurants, and sights, including Forks, the Olympic National Park and other places.

    Guide to the Olympic Peninsula

    Moon's Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula covers hotels, restaurants, and sights, including Forks, the Olympic National Park and other places.

  • West Coast Road Eats is a road food guide covering the Pacific Coast from California through Oregon to Washington, giving the best road trip food stops.

    Road Food Guide

    West Coast Road Eats is a road food guide covering the Pacific Coast from California through Oregon to Washington, giving the best road trip food stops.

  • Books About the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Oregon and Washington including travel guidebooks, route guides, restaurant guides, and many more.

    Books About the Pacific Coast Highway

    Books About the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Oregon and Washington including travel guidebooks, route guides, restaurant guides, and many more.

  • The Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.

    Napa and Sonoma Guidebook

    The Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.

  • The Michelin Green Guide to California covers the whole state and is good on maps, the sights, major cities and towns, less good on hotels and restaurants.

    Michelin Green Guide California

    The Michelin Green Guide to California covers the whole state and is good on maps, the sights, major cities and towns, less good on hotels and restaurants.

  • Plant lovers can visit hundreds of gardens along or near the Pacific Coast Highway,ranging from lush gardens in the Pacific North-West to southern California.

    Gardens Of the Pacific Coast Highway

    Plant lovers can visit hundreds of gardens along or near the Pacific Coast Highway,ranging from lush gardens in the Pacific North-West to southern California.

  • The Los Angeles travel guide book from Lonely Planet also covers San Diego and Southern California, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Disneyland.

    Los Angeles Travel Guide

    The Los Angeles travel guide book from Lonely Planet also covers San Diego and Southern California, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Disneyland.

  • To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

    Cannery Row in Monterey

    To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Guides. Book and ebook hotel guides to PCH

    Pacific Coast Highway guides include our own printed book and ebook guides to the best hotels along the PCH, available in paperback, PDF and Kindle formats.

  • The Frommer's Guide to Oregon has good information on hotels, restaurants and what to see in Portland, and along the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Frommers Guide to Oregon

    The Frommer's Guide to Oregon has good information on hotels, restaurants and what to see in Portland, and along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Lonely Planet's Guide to Cycling the USA West Coast is a bicycling guidebook for anyone touring California, Oregon and Washington by bike.

    Cycling the USA West Coast

    Lonely Planet's Guide to Cycling the USA West Coast is a bicycling guidebook for anyone touring California, Oregon and Washington by bike.

  • Lonely Planet's Coastal California guidebook is the ideal travel guide for driving or cycling the Pacific Coast Highway from the Oregon border to Mexico.

    Coastal California Guidebook

    Lonely Planet's Coastal California guidebook is the ideal travel guide for driving or cycling the Pacific Coast Highway from the Oregon border to Mexico.

  • Brewpubs and good beer are at the heart of the Good Beer Guide to the West Coast USA which lists the best bars and breweries from Seattle to San Diego.

    Brewpubs and Good Beer on the West Coast USA

    Brewpubs and good beer are at the heart of the Good Beer Guide to the West Coast USA which lists the best bars and breweries from Seattle to San Diego.



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