Cruising along the Pacific coast is one of the classic American drives. Camping along it turns this time-honored trip into a multi-day adventure filled with oceanfront campsites, waterfall sightings and even nights sleeping under giant Redwood trees.
As you plan your epic Pacific coast camping trip, you'll need to consider a few important details that may not be applicable on a standard outing. These tips will help guide the planning process and ensure you have a trip to remember.
1. Check the Map Often
There are two highways to take as you drive up the coast—the 101 and the 1. These two run close together, or merge into one, and then split; one goes inland while the other stays on the coast. If you're not using your GPS with a specific route, check the map every so often to make sure you're staying on the coast. Some places the two highways split are:
- Graviota State Park, Goleta, California: the 101 heads inland
- San Luis Obispo, California: the 101 heads inland
Note: The 1 merges with the 101 after Leggett, California and you stay on the 101 all the way into Oregon.
2. Check for Fire Warnings
A lot of camping along the coast is in national and state forest areas. These places are highly susceptible to forest fires, which means you can't always make a campfire at night. Call ahead and check whether you're allowed to build a fire. If not, plan ahead for no-cook meals.
3. Stay at One Oceanfront Campground (At Least!)
Not all campgrounds along the coast offer ocean views; watching the sunset from your tent and waking up to ocean waves lapping on the beach can't be beat. Make it a priority to reserve at least one oceanfront campsite during your trip up the pacific coast. Try:
4. Bring a Book on Tape
Driving along the coast is rarely boring, however, some of the inland stretches are long and slow. When you're not cruising along the ocean, listen to a book on tape, which makes the long drives feel shorter. Before you know it, you're back taking pictures of the turquoise water.