If you live in San Diego and you just love spending time in the great outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, or just exploring the wilderness, here are some unmissable camping spots you should add to your bucket list.

Granted, they all involve a little travel – but, as you will soon discover, they are well worth the journey. Not only do these rugged hotspots provide easy access to breathtaking wilderness trails, but they also lie within easy reach of plenty of adrenaline-filled outdoor activities that are sure to get your blood pumping. Read on and start planning your next adventure holiday!

Lake Arrowhead

Located in the pristine San Bernardino National Forest, Lake Arrowhead is the perfect destination for anyone who loves water sports, fishing, and scenic hiking through the woods. If you’re flying here, you may want to land at either ONT or SNA.

Better yet, there is not just one, but several spectacular camping grounds located at Lake Arrowhead, so you will be spoilt for choice. These include the North Shore Campground, which offers easy access to the lake and a picturesque hiking trail that guides you through the conifer woods to the banks of Little Bear Creek. You will find various amenities available at this site, including toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, and drinking water.

Other popular camping sites include the likes of Green Valley, and Dogwood campground, both of which provide a well-provisioned gateway into the forest.

Mission Springs PCT Trail Camp

You may not have the time to walk the whole Pacific Crest Trail, but you can experience what it’s like to camp at Mission Springs, which is one of the stops many hikers use along the way.

Tucked away in a remote part of the San Bernardino National Forest, this camping spot is ideal for anyone who really wants to get back to basics, as it doesn’t feature any amenities such as toilets or fire rings. Even the water is seasonal, depending on whether the namesake Mission Springs is flowing or not, and you may be forbidden to light a campfire depending on conditions.

However, the rugged views are hard to beat, and if you love sharing hiking adventure stories with other wayfarers in the wilderness, you may just come across some PCT thru-hikers you can share a yarn with.

Joshua Tree National Park

If you haven’t already visited the iconic Joshua Tree, then it’s high time you made a pilgrimage there. One of California’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions, this park attracts visitors from all over the world, eager to take in its dramatic landscapes, mind-blowing geological features, and star-studded night skies.

Besides admiring the views, there is so much to see and do in Joshua Tree National Park, from climbing, hiking, and biking, to riding your horse – if you have one – through its windswept scenery.

There are also plenty of camping options to choose from, including Black Rock Campground in Yucca Valley, Indian Cove Campground, and Jumbo Rocks campsite.

Salton Sea

Salton Sea is a picturesque camping hotspot consisting of a 45-mile long inland sea overlooked by mountains. While the water is not safe to swim in, you can still enjoy a range of active pursuits around the shores and on the water itself, including kayaking, boating, hiking, and, in particular, bird-watching, as Salton Sea has been designated an Important Bird Area.

There is a vast number of campsites for you to choose from in the local area, many of them dotted around the shoreline of the sea. Most of these campgrounds offer cost-effective camping with a range of amenities, such as toilets and drinking water.

For truly spectacular sunset views, consider the rustic but beautiful Corvina Beach Campground, nestled by the water. Alternatively, you may prefer a less primitive option such as New Camp, which offers more facilities than most, although it is busier as a result. However, New Camp provides you with easy access to the harbor and the sea, so if you love fishing this could be the camp for you.

Before You Set Off

Once your camping destination has been chosen, it’s time to prepare! Here are a few handy travel tips to bear in mind whether you decide to drive or fly from San Diego for your sojourn in the wilderness.

If your chosen camping destination is too far to drive, you can easily take your camping gear with you on a plane. It just requires some smart packing and a little forward planning. Here are some helpful suggestions.

For the drivers, here are some stress-busting tips to help you prepare for a wild adventure when you’re planning to drive to your campsite.

Don’t Take Anything You Can Rent Or Buy

Do some research before you depart to find out what things you can rent or purchase at the camping site, so you won’t need to worry about bringing them. This could apply to anything from sports gear to food and water supplies.