California vs. Oregon: How and Where to Camp This Summer

California vs. Oregon: How and Where to Camp This Summer

Summer is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, and California and Oregon offer some of the best camping experiences in the U.S. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, this guide will help you plan an unforgettable trip.

Top Camping Spots in California and Oregon


  1. Yosemite National Park: Famous for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, and giant sequoias. Ideal for tent and RV camping, with numerous well-maintained campgrounds.
  2. Redwood National and State Parks: Camp among the tallest trees in the world, offering a surreal experience in ancient forests.
  3. Joshua Tree National Park: A unique desert camping experience with striking rock formations and starry night skies.


  1. Crater Lake National Park: Camp near the deepest lake in the U.S., surrounded by breathtaking views and pristine wilderness.
  2. Mount Hood National Forest: Offers diverse landscapes, from alpine meadows to dense forests, perfect for hiking and exploring.
  3. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: Ideal for beach camping, ATV adventures, and experiencing the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America.

Essential Camping Gear

  • Tent: Choose a tent that suits the size of your group. Ensure it’s weather-resistant and easy to set up.
  • Sleeping Bag: A 3-season sleeping bag is usually sufficient for most conditions.
  • Sleeping Pad: Provides comfort and insulation from the ground.
  • Cooking Gear: Bring a portable stove, fuel, pots, pans, and utensils for preparing meals.
  • Cooler: Keeps your food and beverages fresh.
  • Camping Chairs: Essential for relaxation around the campfire.
  • Headlamp/Flashlight: Crucial for nighttime visibility and navigating in the dark.

Choosing the Right Vehicle

  • Sedan: Suitable for campgrounds with good road access. Make sure you have enough trunk space for your gear.
  • SUV/Truck: Offers more space and can handle rougher terrain, making it ideal for more remote camping spots.
  • RV: Provides comfort and amenities like a kitchen and bathroom but requires more space and may have limited access in some parks.

Food and Water Tips

  • Plan Meals: Pre-plan and prep meals to save time. Think simple, nutritious, and easy-to-cook options.
  • Bring Enough Water: Aim for at least one gallon of water per person per day. Consider bringing a water filter or purification tablets if you’ll be near natural water sources.
  • Bear-Resistant Containers: Required in some parks to store food securely and prevent attracting wildlife.

Safety Tips

  • First Aid Kit: Always have a fully stocked first aid kit for emergencies.
  • Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes. Bring appropriate clothing and gear for varying conditions.
  • Wildlife Safety: Keep a safe distance from wildlife. Store food securely and never feed animals.
  • Cell Service: Many parks have limited or no cell service. Inform someone of your plans and expected return time.

Connectivity and Service

  • California: Yosemite has limited service, while Joshua Tree offers none in most areas. Check park websites for coverage maps.
  • Oregon: Crater Lake and Mount Hood have spotty coverage. Plan accordingly and consider using offline maps.

Final Thoughts

Camping in California and Oregon offers diverse landscapes, from towering redwoods to serene lakes. Here are a few final tips to ensure your trip is enjoyable and safe:

  1. Plan Ahead: Popular campsites fill up quickly, so book your spot early.
  2. Pack Smart: Bring only what you need, but don't forget essentials like a first aid kit and extra layers.
  3. Respect Nature: Follow Leave No Trace principles to keep parks pristine for future generations.
  4. Stay Informed: Check for park alerts and trail conditions before you go.

With the right gear, vehicle, and preparation, you can enjoy a safe and memorable adventure. So pack your bags, prepare your vehicle, and get ready for an epic summer camping trip!

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