Want to beach camp in Ventura, California? For RV campers, the place to go is Emma Wood State Beach. The park offers 90 beachfront campsites, ocean fishing, a reliable surf break, and a 1.5-mile hiking trail loop. Ready for a beach escape?
The campground in this 115-acre park is popular, booking up solid throughout the summer. The sites run along a cobblestone beach with easy access to the Pacific. Unfortunately, there isn’t much privacy between the sites (which are more like parking spaces) and tents are not allowed. The sites are RV only, as the park website explains:
Emma Wood State Beach offers primitive camping for fully self-contained vehicles only. Tents are not permitted. No water, restrooms, electricity, fire rings, or phones or dump station are available. There are 90 campsites, which are not level and may contain a mixture of asphalt, dirt, cobble and ocean debris. Maximum vehicle length is 40 feet, due to small turnaround areas.
If your brand of “primitive camping” includes sleeping in a “fully self-contained vehicle,” than Emma Wood State Beach is the perfect oceanfront campground. You’ll get your moneys worth if you come to Emma Wood State Beach to surf or relax on the beach. Sites are $40 per night during the summer and $30 per night during the off season. Sites at Emma Wood State Beach are by reservation only during the busy summer season (mid-May through Labor Day) and first-come first-serve during the rest of the year. Campsites may be reserved online.
Park amenities include a cold water outdoor shower and chemical and flush toilets. Campfires are prohibited, but stoves and grills are allowed. Emma Wood State Beach is sliced down the middle by the Union Pacific Railroad and bordered closely by the 101 Freeway, which keeps campers from feeling too isolated.
What if you want to camp in a tent? If you have a lot of friends, there are four group campsites that do allow tents and fit up the 30 people. However, unlike the 8-person family sites for RVs, the group sites are set back from the waterfront, exchanging ocean views for sights of the freeway. RVs are also allows at the group sites. There is a picnic area near the group camps with BBQ grills. A bike path connects the group camp with the rest of the campground, a couple miles away.
Ocean’s Edge and River’s Edge Trails Loop starts from the Emma Wood State Beach Group Camp and heads southeast along the beach into Seaside Wilderness Park to an estuary at the end of the Ventura River that is typically flocked with seabirds.
Grab your sleeping bag and your flip-flops and head to Emma Wood State Beach, where you can fall asleep to the smell of the sea breeze and the sound of the waves rolling up on shore. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but are allowed on leash in the campground. For more information, call (805)968-1033, or take a look at the campground map and guidelines.
To get to the group camp and trailhead: From the northbound 101 Freeway, take exit 70A to California Street. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right and drive half a block up California Street to Thompson Boulevard and turn left. After half a mile, the road curves to the right and becomes Garden Street. Go to the end of the street and turn left on Main Street. Drive 3/4 of a mile and turn left on Park Access Road, just before the freeway on ramp. There are signs for Seaside Wilderness Park and Emma Wood State Beach Group Camp. From the southbound 101 Freeway, take exit 71 for Main Street. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right on Main Street and make an immediate right on Park Access Road to reach the state beach.
To get to the RV-only beach campground: From the northbound 101 Freeway, take exit 72 for State Beaches. Drive half a mile north from the end of the ramp on Pacific Coast Highway. Turn left on State Beach Access Road and drive a quarter mile to the gate for the campground. From the southbound 101 Freeway, take exit 78 and drive 5.8 miles south on PCH to the campground.
Campground address: State Beach Access Road, Emma Wood State Beach, Ventura, CA 93001
Campground coordinates: 34.293149, -119.339871 (34° 17′ 35.33″N 119° 20′ 23.53″W)
Use the map below to view the campground and get directions:
|Ocean’s Edge and River’s Edge Trails Loop|
This level and easy 1.5-mile loop in Emma Wood State Beach, borders the Pacific Ocean, the Ventura River, and an estuary flocked by seabirds.
|La Jolla Canyon Loop|
This 11.75-mile hike explores Point Mugu State Park on the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains, offering extraordinary ocean views (while still visiting La Jolla Canyon Falls).
|Scenic and Overlook Trails Loop|
This 2.7 to 3.5-mile hike takes in tremendous ocean views above Big Sycamore Canyon in Point Mugu State Park.
|Angel Vista via Rosewood Trail|
This 4-mile round trip hike is the most direct route to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Conejo Valley.
This 3.7-mile hike uses four trails to form a loop through the mountains behind Montecito, California.
|More Central Coast Hikes|
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey.
|El Capitán State Beach|
This 132-site campground offers oceanfront camping along the coast west of Santa Barbara.
|Refugio State Beach Campground|
This 67-site campground is a great oceanfront camping destination along the coast west of Santa Barbara, just three miles from El Capitán State Beach.
|Wheeler Gorge Campground|
This 70-site campground in the Los Padres National Forest outside Ojai is complimented by a 1-mile nature trail.
|Sycamore Canyon Campground|
This 58-site campground in Point Mugu State Park sits at the mouth of a beachfront canyon and has access to trails through the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains.