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El Capitan State Beach Campground California

El Capitan State Beach Overview

El Capitan 110

El Capitan State Beach campground is a relatively large campground and has 142 single-family campsites located next to a spectacular beach on the central California coastline.  Campsites can be reserved from April 1 through November 30. The rest of the year sites are first come, first served.

Campsites can accommodate tents, trailers and motorhomes (up to 42 feet).   Sites 125-132 are for RVs and trailers only. There are no hookups in the campground. ADA Campsites are 8, 9, 20, 26, 33, 38, 39, 40, 80, and 83. Each campsite also has a table, fire ring and grill. Quiet hours are from 10 PM to 6 AM. Three vehicles and 8 people maximum are allowed per campsite. However, your reservation fee will pay for one vehicle and one towed vehicle.

Three group camping areas are also available (Ortega, Cabrillo and Drake) and overlook the ocean. They can accommodate 40-100 people (tent camping). Paved parking (for autos and small RVs) is available at the group sites. There are also a few hike-in and bike-in campsites north of the group camping area.

Facilities at the campground include flush toilets, drinking water, coin operated showers, a laundromat, a day use/picnic area and campfire center. Firewood is also available for sale from the campground host.

El Capitan campground has lots of shady areas with many oak and sycamore trees throughout the park. Some of the campsites also offer beautiful views from the cliff-top. There is also a sandy beach with tide pools and many hiking trails.

El Capitan State Beach Area Recreation

The coastline in this area boasts high cliffs, sandy beaches, rocky tide pools and lots of surf. Keep your eyes peeled and you may be lucky enough to spot majestic dolphins, elephant seals, and sea lions in the water! You also have a good chance of seeing some whales during their migration to/from Mexico.

Outdoor recreation includes swimming, surf-fishing, surfing, ocean kayaking, hiking, biking, sunbathing, beach combing, picnicking and wildlife viewing.

Three other campgrounds in the area include Gaviota State Park (39 campsites),  Carpinteria State Beach (216 campsites) and Refugio State Beach (66 campsites).

Make a Reservation for El Capitan State Beach

  • Amphitheater
  • BBQ Grills
  • Camp Store
  • Campfire Center
  • Campground Host
  • Campsite Tables
  • Drinking Water
  • Fire Pit
  • Fire Rings
  • Firewood Available
  • Grills
  • Group Camping
  • Hike/Bike Campsites
  • Ice
  • Iron Ranger
  • Laundromat
  • Pets OK
  • Picnic Tables
  • Ranger Station
  • Restrooms (Flush Toilets)
  • Showers
  • Beach
  • Beach Access
  • Beach Combing
  • Biking
  • Bird Watching
  • Boating (non motorized)
  • Body Surfing
  • Creek
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Nature Trails
  • Ocean
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Skin Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Stargazing
  • Surf Fish
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Walking Trails
  • Whale Watching
  • Wildlife Viewing
10 Refugio Beach Rd.
Goleta, California 93117
805 968-1033
Campground Map
Make a Reservation

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Best Campsites

30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 70,71, 72, 73, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 101, 116, 118, 120, 121

Campsite Types
  • Hike/Bike
  • RV
  • Tent
  • Trailer

Year Round



# of Campsites:


El Capitan State Beach Photos & Video

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El Capitan Group Campsites - Ortega-Cabrillo-Drake

El Capitan State Beach Comments & Reviews

Visited El Capitan State Beach Campground lately? We'd love to hear about your adventure. Did you find us useful? Did we forget something? Anything our community should know before heading out to El Capitan State Beach?

72 Comments on “El Capitan State Beach”

  1. Cecilia Muniz says:

    Many years ago we camped at El Capitan in a pop up trailer. It was wonderful! We drove by there last weekend and it seems campers can no longer camp under the trees! There are now cement pads to park your RV or trailer on! Has anyone camped there recently? I’m not happy about the change.

    • RVs are parked on asphalt drives, but the rest of the site is all dirt w/ trees so tents may be put under the trees and you can still have the shade of trees at your site, just not right where the camper is parked.
      I go there almost annually with friends and it’s very nice.

  2. Julieann Collier says:

    At El Capitan State beach the sites in Loop One nearest the beach are still primitive sites, Loop 2 as well…i think you may be refereing to loop three and four which are the loops you see from the road, those are the group sties and have been reconstructed and revamped. THE TREES are missing in LOOP 3 and 4 Because of a large fire years ago.

  3. Julieann Collier says:

    At El Capitan State beach the sites in Loop One nearest the beach are still primitive sites, Loop 2 as well…i think you may be refereing to loop three and four which are the loops you see from the road, those are the group sties and have been reconstructed and revamped. THE TREES are missing in LOOP 3 and 4 Because of a large fire years ago.

  4. Pat Kramer says:

    This is a very nice camping place although we had an access road passing by the back of our site and just a bit further over, a train track with a train passing by in the night. If, however, you are lucky enough to get a group site, you can actually sit by the cliff over the beach and really enjoy the awesome views! I think it’s a very nice place, overall.

  5. Ginger Baker says:

    Kids went camping there a few days ago. Apparently the place has been wiped out due to a tsunami. So sad!!

    • Hi Ginger,
      Rest assured that El Capitan State Beach is safe and sound. There has been no tsunami to hit California since March 11, 2011 as a result of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off of Japan. The resulting 2011 tsunami in California was very small resulting in minor damage mostly in the Crescent City area of California. El Capitan State Beach had no damage and is open.

  6. Can anyone please tell me what is the best website I can use to make reservations to tent camp here at El Capitan State Beach? Thank you!

    • Hi Mayse,

      During summer and weekends, it is difficult to get a reservation at El Capitan State Beach. ReserveCalifornia.com is the agency that handles reservations. The reservations work on a 6 month rolling window. So, for example, if your arrival date is July 1, then the first day you can try and make a reservation for a July 1 arrival is on January 1 at 8AM PST.

      There is also a ‘bot’ site that is grabbing reservations with its speeding computers/connections and then reselling the campsites for an additional $39 per night. ReserveCalifornia.com and the State of California Parks department are aware, but don’t seem to care. You can read more about in the comments HERE.

      • Jim Grooters says:

        Why can’t anyone do anything about the “bot” sites and why does’nt the SOCParks department not care? How can one get in touch with them and ask about this situation? Can you give me info on who to call?

      • Hi Jim,
        Yes, it is a bad situation with the “bot” sites snagging reservations. We ran a poll on our Facebook page earlier in the year to gauge the satisfaction with ReserveCalifornia and the response was overwhelmingly negative. There have been several comments on our ‘Tips to Reserve A Campsite‘ blog post where you’ll see what some people have done (to complain). CampsitePhotos has contacted both ReserveCalifornia and California State Parks about the situation. They have indicated they are “aware of the situation”, but so far no progress.

      • The “bot” option has been blocked by Cal Parks software and is no longer easily available as of 2019. This means it’s back to peering at the computer at 7:59.59 am, 6 months in advance, to sign in. The best spots are gone within 5 seconds (really). Is this really an improvement?

  7. Are there any campfire restrictions in place at this time?

  8. Hi there, was invited to El Capitan this weekend (first time) and very excited. I’ve tried to confirm that in fact a small pop-up trailer is allowed, regardless of what site we have reserved (Loop1,2,3 or 4)… I am not sure of our exact campsite but I’m certain it is not a group site…. we would have two vehicels total and one of those would be towing the pop-up which is 15ft long and 6ft wide… so is the info I copied from above in fact correct? —“Three vehicles and 8 people maximum are allowed per campsite. However, your reservation fee will pay for one vehicle and one towed vehicle.”

    • Hi Jay,
      That’s correct – at El Capitan State Beach campground you can have up to 3 vehicles (including the towed vehicle), but the third vehicle will cost extra (per night).

  9. Jim Grooters says:

    Am inquiring about whether or not you have hookups ( EWS). If not do you have availability of potable water and dump station? Which sites could I park a 30′- 5th wheel in? Thanks

    • Hi Jim,
      CampsitePhotos.com is not affiliated with the campgrounds listed on our site. We provide the photos of each campsite, camp info and link to make reservations. With that said, there are no hookups at El Capitan State Beach. Campsites 125-132 are large (RV and trailer) sites only and your rig will fit in one of those. Many sites throughout the campground will accommodate rigs up to 42 feet. It would be best to click on the “Make A Reservation” button to check with ReserveCalifornia on sizes of all campsites.

  10. Pam Marqez says:

    Anyone know if there is a dump station at El Capitan? If not, can you recommend one nearby?

  11. Are there any spots in the lower loop 1-28 that will fit a 30 ft class A motorhome?

    • Hi JR,

      Looks like a couple of sites will fit your 30 foot motorhome in campsites 1-28 at El Capitan State Beach. Check out sites 1, 3, 4, 7, 11 and 12. Although sites 1 and 3 may have a few tree limbs to deal with.

  12. Hi! I just made a reservation for my Cub Scout group, Pack 114. We are very excited to visit in a few months. I was hoping to get information about hikes, trails, tide pools, caves, and anything of the like. I’d so appreciate anything you can offer. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Cheryl,
      That is great news about getting a reservation for your Cub Scout group at El Capitan State Beach. There are some nice trails throughout the campground, and of course the beach will offer some great opportunities to explore (beach combing, tide pools, caves, etc.). You’ll find the tide pools and a few small caves close to the campground. You may also want to drive up El Capitan Canyon. There’s a parking area and trailhead at the end of the road where you can hike along the creek and through the hills. The camp ranger (at check in) should also have some brochures and ideas for you too! Have a great time!

  13. Hello:

    I have a couple of questions related to ADA access at El Cap.

    We have a 30′ class A motorhome with a wheel chair lift on the passenger side. My husband is a wheelchair user and has the disabled discount pass.

    Q1: What campsites would be suitable for us to camp in? How can we assure they are available (during the non reservation season) before we drive up there?

    Q2: What other features are available for my husband using his wheelchair?

    Thank you,
    Katherine and Tony

    • HI KTrver,
      El Capitan State Beach ADA campsites are: 8, 9, 20, 26, 33, 38, 39, 40, 80, and 83. Unfortunately there really isn’t anyway of knowing if any of those sites will be occupied (during the non reservation season). You may try calling the Park directly (before you go) at: 805 968-1033. El Capitan State Beach also has ADA restrooms in the campground. The amphitheater is also ADA.

      • Thank you. Which ADA sites will accommodate a 30’ motorhome with side wheel chair lift?

  14. ScottyCR says:

    Camping with a church group soon and need clarification on a group camp site. Group site has already been reserved but is there a limit on how many RVs can park in one RV space? Are there even designated RV spaces within the group sites? Total length of 2 van/truck type RVs will be shorter than 42’ total.

    • HI Scotty,

      El Capitan State Beach has 3 group camping areas available (Ortega, Cabrillo and Drake). They can accommodate 40-100 people (tent camping). Paved parking (for autos and small RVs) is available at the group sites.

  15. I am curious which of the 3 loops are closer to the ocean ?

    • Hi Edina,

      Click on the ‘Campground Map’ button for El Capitan State Beach and you’ll see which loops and campsites are closer to the ocean.

      • Edina Rush says:

        It looks like they are equal distance from the photo’s was hoping for a little more input from you 🙂 Thank you.

  16. I also wondered , is there any electricity anywhere in the campground for blowing up a air mattress for the tent?

  17. Is there cell service there? Wondering if my children will be able to contact me if need be? Sycamore canyon has no cell so curious.

  18. Corey C says:

    I heard that this beach allows horses on it is that true? If it is, are they allowed on a small section of the beach or the whole thing?

  19. Rey Lavalle says:

    Q: What does the “R.V. Fill Station” supply? Can I “water up” from a hose-bib there?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Ray,
      We know El Capitan State Beach has an RV dump station, but not positive if they have potable water for tank fill up at the dump station. We do know there are water spigots located in the campground where you can fill up your tanks. You may want to call the park directly to confirm: 805 968-1033

  20. Just to be clear, Dec thru march no reservations, walk in only? When can i begin making reservations for april through next summer?

    • Hi Edina,
      You can make a reservation at El Capitan State Beach (during the reservable time period) 6 months to the day prior to arrival. For example, if you want to arrive July 6, then the first day you can try and make a reservation is on January 6 at 8:00am PST. Be sure to try and reserve a spot right at 8:00am as the campground generally sells out within minutes during peak/summer (or weekends).

  21. Hi – I am trying to determine if our trailer will fit in site 82 – wondering how far the overhang is in this spot? We have 28′ trailer. Thank you for any feedback!

    • Hi SC,
      The pad length on El Capitan State Beach Site 82 is 25 feet, and you have plenty of overhang (past the curb) – probably 8-10 feet until the tree and more to left of tree.

  22. Thank you for your response! It seems that our back wheel to tongue is 25 feet. The info for site 82 says it has a pad length of 25, but also “Site Length(Camp Space/Unit Max Length) 23”. Any idea what the Site Length of 23 refers to? We will need the entire 25 feet. 🙂 Thanks so much for your feedback!

  23. Can you give me more information on the primitive hike in site/s?
    1. How far from the parking?
    2. How do you reserve?
    3. Is it usually taken?

    Any and all information will help. Thank you!

    • Hi John,
      We are not aware of any primitive/hike-in campsites at El Capitan State Beach. There are 142 standard sites (drive-up for tent, trailer and RV). There are also 3 group camping areas (for parties between 40-100 people). For the group sites, the walk to the camping area is very short, maybe 30 to 40 yards from the parking area (see photo). All sites (standard and group) can be reserved by clicking on the ‘Make A Reservation’ button, where you can check availability , pricing and make a reservation. Sites book quickly during peak season.
      El Capitan State Beach Group Campsites

  24. Yes, there are a few hike-in and bike-in campsites at the far west end of the group campgrounds. According to the brochure they can be booked by those on foot or bike at the campground entrance.

    • Hi Richard,
      Thanks for the heads up on the hike-in & bike-in campsites at El Capitan State Beach. I’ll make a note of that on the campground page.



    I reserved a site here and it mentions the 3 vehicle and 8 person limit however I was wondering since the sites are fairly large if 1 vehicle and two trailers is ok. I have a trailer and an rv with one car. 7 people total. Thank you!

  26. We are going to El Capitan for the first time last this summer. We booked campsite 70, only one available, how close are we going to be to the bathroom? I’m worried about the smell.
    I was also wondering about beach access, are there stairs or ramps to go down to the beach? and how long will this walk be?

    Thank you all for your help!

    • Hi CS,
      El Capitan State Beach campsite #70 is not too close to the bathroom so you don’t have to worry about the smell. The beach is about 400-500 feet from your campsite and there are stairs down to the beach. Have a great time!

  27. Is El Cap still not open for reservations till April 1st 2020?

    • ReserveCalifornia.com has a 6 month rotating reservation schedule for all California State Parks and Beaches. For example, if you want to start your camping on July 1, then the first day you can make a reservation would be 6 months prior or Dec 1 at 8am PST.
      If you wanted to begin your stay on July 2, then December 2 at 8AM would be the first day/time you could try and reserve a site.
      Hope this helps!

      • Thank you for your quick response.

        Lastly, I am unfamiliar with the blue walking man icon on the reserve california website when you want to click on a site and reserve, what does this mean? thanks!

      • The meaning behind the blue walking man icon has stumped people for ages. It may reference a campsite that requires a ‘short’ walk or hike from the vehicle to the camping area. I recommend calling ReserveCalifornia to confirm.

  28. Jen Redekopp says:

    We are hoping to book a group site in the spring. Does El Capitan still have the smaller group site (I think it’s for 35 people or less) that is more shaded and NOT close to the train tracks? Is it currently available or closed due to COVID-19?

    • Hi Jen,
      All of the group camping areas are over by the train tracks and have little shade. However, all El Capitan State Beach group campsites are closed due to Covid restrictions.

  29. hard to tell from campground map but is the only beach access/path from the campground down to the beach that paved path from the day use parking lot? trying to figure out the closest campground to the beach path since we have toddlers. thanks!

    • Hello Z!
      There are two beach access paths (both paved – walking only) from the day use parking lot/area at San Clemente State Beach. The one closest to the campground is shorter and maybe a 1/4 mile walk down to the beach.

  30. I’m a little confused by the hike-in/bike-in campsites.
    Where are they located?
    How far do we have to hike from parking to get there?
    What amenities does it have?
    And how do I reserve a spot?
    I tried clicking on the site on the reservation, and it won’t allow me to book the site.

    • Hi Mare,
      Great questions! The El Capitan State Beach Hike & Bike campsites are located down past the group camping area. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets and showers. The sites are reservable on ReserveCalifornia.com, but they must be sold out on your dates if you’re not able to reserve. You can try calling ReserveCalifornia to confirm at: 800-444-7275
      El Capitan State Beach Hike & Bike Map

  31. Greetings
    We have reservations this month-October 2020. Do we need coin for the showers? Will the camp store be open for fire wood and ice?

    • Hi Terrir,
      Unfortunately (according to California State Parks page), the camp store at El Capitan State Beach is closed (Covid restrictions). The showers may be closed too, but I have not been able to confirm. If open, the showers take coins and there is a coin dispenser machine for $1, $5 bills).

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