Get ready to pitch up in Cali – these are the best places to go camping in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

To say that Carmel-by-the-Sea, or simply Carmel, is a hub for adventure lovers would be a little bit of an understatement. This captivating beach city, nestled in Monterey County, California, has plenty to offer if you’re looking to get in touch with the outdoors.

And camping is the best of them. 

Alright, so I’ll come clean and admit that most of the camp spots I’m about to mention are on the outskirts of town – but where else do you get a true backcountry experience? 

Exactly. Ready to explore?

Best Spots for Camping in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel By The River RV Park

Carmel Valley

  • Open dates: Various
  • Number of sites: 35
  • Types of camping available: RVs
  • Amenities: Full hookups (30 & 50 amp electric) including water, sewer, and cable TV, restrooms (with hot showers), picnic tables, charcoal grills, general store, recreation room, bark park, and WiFi

Let me start with my favourite spot. Carmel By The River RV Park, set in serene natural surroundings, is the best location for camping in Carmel. This site is small but truly beautiful, offering clean private spaces to relax in perfect peace while embarking on a unique camping trip.

The pet-friendly park has several site types: standard, preferred, premium, deluxe, mega and primo. Don’t have your own RV? Don’t worry. The park also offers a stunning 40-foot four-sleeper luxury RV vacation rental on a private enclosed site. It costs $225 per night.

You can stock up on RV supplies, non-perishable foods and soft drinks at the on-site general store. There’s also a recreation room with a lounge area and facilities for billiards, air hockey and ping pong — casual shared spaces for fun games and socialising.

The park’s first-come-first-serve basis eliminates the stress of strict reservation rules. Rates depend on the total duration of your stay, the number of guests, RV type, and RV length (maximum length 23 feet).

Saddle Mountain Ranch, RV and Campground

Carmel Valley

  • Open dates: Not specified
  • Number of sites: 50
  • Types of camping available: Cabins, RVs, tents, bunkhouse
  • Amenities: Partial and full hookups (30 amp electric, including water, sewer, and cable), restrooms (with hot showers), swimming pool, gazebos, propane firepits, on-site entertainment (board games, ping pong & badminton), and WiFi decks

Another Carmel Valley spot is Saddle Mountain Ranch. Nestled just a short drive from Carmel city centre, this site is set within 89 acres of rich forest land. 

The main reason this site is so popular? Its proximity to the five-mile-long Saddle Mountain Trail. It takes hikers into the forest and contains California’s finest oaks, pines and redwoods.

This Carmel campground caters to all kinds of campers (including your four-legged furries); there’s a quaint 10-sleeper bunk house and spacious pet-friendly RV sites. Couples and solo campers will love the cabin suites (featuring fully-kitted kitchens and outdoor barbecues). 

The campsite’s luxury glamping tents offer lavish camping escapes. But that’s not all; the ranch also has walk-in and drive-in tent sites. 

Oh, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the heated pool, open for use between May and October.

Now for the nitty gritty price details: nightly rates depend on campsite type and the duration of your stay. You could pay $55 for a tents-only walk-in site or $155 minimum two-day visit for a standard full hookup RV site. It costs $276 minimum two-day stay for a cabin suite and $360 minimum two-day stay for the bunk house.

So, not the cheapest of spots, but an incredible experience I highly recommend.

Note: Smoking and wood burning are not allowed as this is a forest fire hazard.

Veteran’s Memorial Park Campground


  • Open dates: Year-round
  • Number of sites: 40
  • Types of camping available: Tents
  • Amenities: Tables, firepits, restrooms (with showers), basketball court, lawn area, storage lockers, dump station, and reservable picnic areas

Another spot for those wanting to check out Carmel’s trails: Veteran’s Memorial Park. Avid hikers will adore adjacent Huckleberry Hill Nature Preserve.

The park is most famous for group camping with a 3-day consecutive camping limit. Campsites are not reservable and operate on a first-come-first-serve basis (go on early bird, get that worm).

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a star attraction, just around the corner from the park. And, camping near Carmel-by-the-Sea means attending all the Carmel action. So squeeze in a visit to the city — just 10 minutes away from Monterey.

It costs $44 per night to stay at this campsite (with one vehicle), so it’s also one of the cheapest campsites near Carmen. Bonus.

Note: Fires are prohibited during fire season (1st June — 1st November). During this time, campers cook using fuel camp stoves.

Monterey County Fair RV Park


  • Open dates: Not specified
  • Number of sites: Not specified
  • Types of camping available: RVs
  • Amenities: Full hookups (30 & 50 amp electric, including water and sewer), restrooms (with showers), laundry facilities (coin-operated), WiFi, ADA access

If you’ve got your eyes on more than just Carmel, Monterey County Fair RV Park provides an ideal camping base for travellers who’d also like to explore Monterey and Pacific Grove — 10 minutes away.

Unwind in a restful setting with everything you need, including convenient amenities. Pets are welcome as long as you clean up after them. Off-site, you’ll find lively restaurants and quirky shops.

It costs $70 per night (with one tow vehicle) to camp at the park and $420 per week (with one night free) if you’d like a longer stay.

The park hosts special events called “black out dates”. These include the Livestock Show & Fair from 22nd August to 6th September and the Monterey Jazz Festival from 17th to 26th September. Get involved and soak up the fun Carmel atmosphere!

Marina Dunes RV Park


  • Open dates: Year-round
  • Number of sites: 96
  • Types of camping available: RVs, cottages, tents (including glamping tents)
  • Amenities: Hookups (50 amp electric) including water and sewer, restrooms (with showers), laundry facilities, clubhouse/lounge, fitness centre, store, fire rings, charcoal barbecues, picnic tables, and WiFi
Marina Dunes

While I can’t call it Carmel beach camping (which would be quite something, wouldn’t it?), Marina Dunes RV Park is close enough to the ocean to still give that beach vibe. You get a sort of three-in-one outdoor experience. 

There are lovely RV campgrounds to enjoy on-site, beachfront access when you’re keen on some seaside activity, and the Marina Dunes Preserve nearby.

This pet-friendly RV beach resort is best suited for travellers who want to mix it up. You can combine unique camping experiences with off-site Monterey Bay sightseeing, like whale-watching tours.

Carmel is just 16 minutes (14 miles) from the park, making it close enough to explore both cities.

The cottage and tent site rates depend on the duration of your stay and the number of guests, while RV sites start at $157 per night.

Moss Landing KOA Express

Moss Landing

  • Open dates: Year-round
  • Number of sites: 46
  • Types of camping available: RVs (fully self-contained with electric, water, and sewer connections)
  • Amenities: Full hookups (30 & 50 amp electric) including cable TV, shared firepit, patios, picnic tables, WiFi

Craving something more rustic? Moss Landing KOA Express, a short drive from Carmel, is a no-fuss and no-frills campground in the peaceful fishing village of Moss Landing. KOA Express is near the water, so this location is ideal for all-inclusive exploring beyond the campsite.

This big rig-friendly campground only provides back-in sites with electric, water, and sewer hookups. Though there is a slight catch: RVs must have bathroom and shower facilities.

Rates depend on camping duration, the number of guests, and the particulars of your RV. But as a rough guide, you can expect to pay $85 per night.

Note: Pets are welcome, but there are breed restrictions. Unfortunately, you cannot bring Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Hybrid Wolves/Coyotes, Dobermans and Mastiff breeds or mixes onto the property.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Big Sur

  • Open dates: Not specified
  • Number of sites: 189
  • Types of camping available: Tents, RVs (only allowed en route), cabin
  • Amenities: Restrooms (with hot showers), metal fire rings (firewood is available for purchase at the kiosk), picnic areas, dump station, potable water, camp store
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Because the city is only one square mile, Carmel hasn’t got many campgrounds in the centre. But this is good news – it lets you discover nearby gems like Pacific Grove, Marina, Salinas and Big Sur. 

Speaking of Big Sur, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (28 miles from Carmel) is a fantastic option for a day trip.

Revel in the benefits of comfortable campsites along the idyllic Big Sur River. Redwood trees decorate the area, and the wildlife is abundant. Off-site, there are plenty of things to do in Big Sur, including visits to Bixby Creek Bridge and Partington Cove.

Standard tent rates are $35 per night, while the premium riverfront sites cost slightly more, at $50 per night. RV en route overnight parking (one night only) costs $45. Hike and bike stay cost $5 per night (for up to two consecutive nights).

A four-sleeper on-site cabin costs $75 a night, giving you more options for available accommodations to ensure unforgettable Big Sur camping.

Note: The showers are token-operated. $1 gets you one token for a quick five-minute shower.

Laguna Seca Recreation Area Campgrounds


  • Open dates: Year-round
  • Number of sites: 6
  • Types of camping available: Tents & RVs
  • Amenities: Electric hookups, restrooms (with showers), picnic tables, fire pits, dump station, and WiFi

The Laguna Seca Recreation Area Campgrounds are great for action-packed vacations. The recreation site has something for everyone: nature lovers, hikers and even petrolheads. Over and above the spectacular campgrounds, Laguna Seca Recreation Area also features a race track, rifle and pistol shooting range.

Enjoy the magnificent natural surroundings with stunning views of Salinas Valley. The staff is friendly and helpful; there’s even 24-hour security for added safety around the campgrounds.

Although not a Carmel-by-the-Sea campground per se, Carmel city centre is just 22.1 miles (approx 27 minutes) from Salinas. So visiting Carmel to check out the lovely museums and eateries is a no-brainer. 

Rates depend on the duration of your stay, the number of guests, RV or tent type, and RV or tent length (maximum length 40 feet). Each site allows just one vehicle with one tent or one RV.

Pets are welcome, but a $4 charge per pet per night (two pets maximum per site) applies. As is the case at most campgrounds, always keep your pets on leashes.

Note: The water isn’t potable, so carry enough of your own safe drinking and cooking bottled water. I never go anywhere without my stylish Hydro Flask.

Practical Tips for Booking Campsites in Carmel-by-the-Sea

  • California’s campgrounds are popular; the best ones are often fully booked year-round. Plan ahead for reservation sites. Confirm campsite conditions before you arrive (nobody wants a nasty shock).
  • The best time for camping in Carmel, CA, is during the shoulder seasons, March to May (spring) and September to November (fall/autumn). Both seasons have pleasant sunny, warm, clear days and cool nights — ideal camping weather conditions.
  • A well-prepared camper is the happiest camper. Get all your travel gear essentials before undertaking your great camping adventure.

Camping in & Near Carmel-by-the-Sea: Map

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