El Caption State Beach Camping
When the sun finally comes out, and summer begins creeping around the corner, there's nothing quite like scoring a beachfront camping spot to enjoy some sun-soaked summer fun. If you want to get out to El Capitan State Beach this summer, however, you'll need to plan ahead of time to get a spot and enjoy your time there.
With its long sandy beaches, explorable rocky tide pools, and a gorgeous creek to hike along, there are so many ways to enjoy your time outdoors at El Capitan.
Come dive in with us as we explore all of the necessary information before your trip!
ADA, Hike/Bike, RV, Tent, Trailer
# Of Tent Sites: 142
# Of Hook Up Sites: 7
10 Refugio Beach Road
Goleta, California 93117
El Capitan Campground
Just off Highway 101, less than 20 miles from Santa Barbara, lies El Capitan State Beach. The El Capitan State Beach campsites are operated by California State Parks.
There are plenty of campsites spread out among the large campground, many of which lie under the Sycamore trees on the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The campsites are gorgeous and provide easy beach access.
A short bike trail from El Capitan to Refugio Beach allows you to reach the ocean while getting some exercise in.
El Capitan State Beach Campground has access to 119 standard campsites, perfect for tents, RVs, or trailers. In addition, 9 campsites within the campground are made for RVs and trailers exclusively.
If you want to camp with a large group, you can book one of the five group campsites. Two of the group campsites are standard sites, meaning they accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs. The other two group campsites are tent-only sites.
Here's a list of the five group camping areas:
El Capitan State Beach Campground has tons of shade, thanks to the many sycamore trees spread throughout the park. A short hike up to the top of the cliffs offers beautiful views of the ocean below. You'll also find a sandy beach and tide pools to explore. If you keep your eyes peeled on the water for long enough, you may be able to spot elephant seals, dolphins, and sea lions!
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at El Capitan State Beach, including fishing, surfing, beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking. In addition, you'll often find experienced kayakers out along this section of the coastline. Have a kayak? Bring it along! There are many neat spots to explore.
Plus, with so many hiking trails, you have the option of getting away from the water for a bit and immersing yourself in nature.
While you're there, we highly recommend crossing over the highway to the private resort and campground, where you can enjoy a nice meal at El Capitan Canyon.
Walking along El Capitan Creek is a good idea for those who like fishing or wildlife viewing.
If you're looking to get outside the campground for the day, there are plenty of unique attractions to visit, including the Goleta Butterfly Grove and Nojoqui Falls Park. Here are a few other activities you can find within Santa Barbara County, not too far from El Capitan:
PRO TIP: If you plan on going swimming or surfing while in El Capitan or Santa Barbara, we recommend bringing a wetsuit, as the waters can stay pretty cold throughout the summer!
Every standard and group site at El Capitan State Beach comes with a picnic table and fire ring, allowing visitors to cook their own meals throughout the day and night (every fire ring comes with a grill). In addition, there are multiple picnic tables at the group sites to accommodate larger parties.
A short walk from the standard and group sites, you'll find flush toilets, a dump station, a camp store, a general store, and coin-operated showers. The group sites have a parking area that can accommodate automobiles and RVs.
There is a day-use area for those who would like to bring day guests as well.
Rules and Regulations
While dogs are allowed in El Capitan State Beach campground, they must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet. At night, you must keep your dogs in your tent or vehicle.
Quiet hours are between 10 PM and 6 AM, and you may only operate generators between 10 AM and 8 PM as needed. Unlike many campgrounds, El Capitan State Beach campground has a curfew of 8:30 PM, in which a parent or guardian must accompany all minors under 18.
El Capitan State Beach Camping Prices
For standard campsites at El Capitan Beach, you can expect to pay $45 during peak season and $35 during non-peak season.
For premium campsites at El Capitan Beach, you can expect to pay $55 during peak season and $45 during non-peak season.
The hike/bike campsites at El Capitan Beach are the cheapest options at $10 regardless of the season.
Do take note that these sites are for those who ride in on bicycle, and there is no room for a vehicle.
When it comes to the group campsites, booking one typically costs anywhere between $235 and $350.
Here's what you can expect for the group campsites:
Make sure to check the website for more accurate information regarding pricing for group campsites. Also, note that California State Parks does not allow tents at the Bobcat Group Campsite.
El Capitan State Beach Camping Reservations
You can reserve campsites from April 1 to November 30. The rest of the year, the campsites are first-come, first-served.
To make a reservation at El Capitan State Beach Campground, head over to Reserve California. You can find information for El Capitan State Beach on this website, as well as information for other California State Parks.
While El Capitan State Beach offers year-round camping, we recommend booking far in advance, as these campsites tend to fill up pretty quickly during the summer and peak season.
If you are unable to reserve a spot at El Capitan State Beach campground, there are a few other campgrounds that you can check out in Santa Barbara County along the Santa Barbara Coast, including:
You may also consider checking out some of the inland campgrounds:
El Capitan Campground Map
Interested in other scenic places to camp near the ocean? Check out our Beach Camping California article - a more extensive guide that covers 9 additional locations.