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AirTalk listeners' 5 top picks for most interesting camping spots




Visitors look up at the El Capitan monolith in the Yosemite National Park in California.
Visitors look up at the El Capitan monolith in the Yosemite National Park in California.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
Visitors look up at the El Capitan monolith in the Yosemite National Park in California.
A view of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley on August 28, 2013 in Yosemite Nationall Park, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Visitors look up at the El Capitan monolith in the Yosemite National Park in California.
People have a picnic at Hidden Valley in the 1,234-square-mile Joshua Tree National Park.
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
Visitors look up at the El Capitan monolith in the Yosemite National Park in California.
Visitors hike the Vernal Fall trail in Yosemite National Park, California. Yosemite is among California's biggest tourist destinaitons.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images


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One of the greatest summer past times is camping, but with so many options in California and the Western U.S., it can be hard to narrow down the right spot to rest your tent.

For those who don’t want to take the RV to more popular stops such as Yellowstone or Joshua Tree, there are a multitude of options that are great for campgoers adventurous enough to set their sights off the beaten path. And what if you want a place that’s best for kids, couples or to spend alone in the great outdoors?

Larry spoke today with Dan White, author of the book, “Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping,” who’s spent serious time researching the best campgrounds in California and the Western U.S. AirTalk listeners joined the conversation to share their most interesting places to camp.

1. Butano State Park

Towering Redwoods at Butano State Park
Towering Redwoods at Butano State Park
Ray Bouknight via Flickr

If you like the idea of camping, but still want to feel close to civilization, White recommends Butano State Park. The park is close to the coastal city of Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. You can still enjoy the redwoods and waterfalls without taking the leap of complete isolation.

2. Patrick's Point State Park

Yurok village at Patrick's Point State Park
Yurok village at Patrick's Point State Park
Michael Fraley via Flickr

For great photo opportunities, both Larry Mantle and James in Torrance are fans of Patrick’s Park for its panoramic views of the ocean. It’s also great for history lovers with its recreated Yurok village, which consists of the traditional Native American people’s family, dance and sweat houses. Patrick’s Park is also less-traveled, so it’s great for people who crave quiet time.

3. Cold Springs Campground

View of Empire Mountain taken from the Cold Springs campground.
View of Empire Mountain taken from the Cold Springs campground.
HikingMike via Flickr

Car-camping and backpacking enthusiasts may want to visit the sub-alpine valley of Cold Springs Campground, located in Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park. To reach the campground, take Mineral King Road, an old miner’s access road which has remained essentially unchanged since the 1870s. One note of caution: use a tarp to protect your car from marmots.

4. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park
A. Dombrowski via Flickr

For those who prefer silence, Robert in Beverly Hills recommends Death Valley National Park. This is for someone who wants isolation, and a breathtaking mountain view of the Sierra Nevada Batholith is great for geology enthusiasts.

5. Montaña de Oro State Park 

Montaña de Oro State Park, California
Montaña de Oro State Park, California
docentjoyce via Flickr

Shelley in Highland Park had a suggestion for ocean lovers. Montaña de Oro State Park near Morro Bay has environmental sites that are great for hiking and whales have also been spotted off the site cliffs.

Do you know of a good SoCal camping spot? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.

Guest:

Dan White, camping expert and author of “Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping” (Henry Holt and Co., 2016)