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El Capitan Beach - California

3656 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  glfortner
El Capitan Beach –
By Mariah Hedrick

This beautiful campground is located about 15 minutes north of Santa Barbara, and provides a million dollar view for only $20.00 per night! El Capitan campground is on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, from our campsite I could hear the waves crashing and see the dolphins frolicking in the ocean. El Capitan also has plenty of large trees providing shade and a natural jungle gym for the kids, it combines the love of beach camping and a touch of forest camping. The paved bike trails at El Capitan provide plenty of entertainment for everyone; you can ride the trail all the way to Refugio Beach if you wanted to.

The Beach at El Capitan has several access areas from the campground via a staircase and / or dirt trail, once at the beach we felt like we were in our own little world. Straight down from our site (#85) was a little cove which seemed like it was made just for us. During low tide you can walk for miles and basically have the beach to yourself but be careful when the tide comes up it may be hard to get back to your staircase and you may have to climb out of the coves. The parking lot at El Capitan beach also has beach access and in that part of the beach there are tide pools to explore and you don’t have to worry about being stuck in a cove during high tide. We brought our dogs to the beach, technically it is not allowed but I think if you stay north of the lifeguard station it is ok, everyone had their dogs there.

The bathrooms at El Capitan campground are clean and there are coin operated showers and plenty of water spigots. There is also a small convenience store and the camp host sells firewood for $6.00 a bundle. During the summer, El Capitan Canyon, (located on the other side of the highway) offers dinner and entertainment on Saturday nights it is within walking distance from the campground. In our opinion the best sites at El Capitan State Campground are 85, 84, 83, and 82 (85 being the best) in the Anza Group loop, and 107, 105, 103, and 101 in the Portola loop. Sites 31, 32 and 33 are nice, but the view is not anything compared to the above mentioned sites, El Capitan also offers several group camping sites and a separate area for the R.V's. El Capitan fills up fast for the summer months and reservations should be made seven months ahead of time. Reservations can be made through for more information you can call the State park at 805-968-1033 photos at

The Pros:
bike paths
Too many to list!!

The cons:
occasional train noise (didn’t bother us)
some highway noise
hard to get reservations
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That sounds like a great campground. I have never camped where I could listen to the sound of the ocean, only lakes. I love the sound of trains (reminds me of home) so that wouldn't be a con for me. Maybe one day.....
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