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Wheeler Gorge Campground Los Padres National Forest California

Wheeler Gorge Overview

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Wheeler Gorge campground has 69 single-family campsites situated around Matilija Creek and surrounded by mountains in the Los Padres National Forest. There are also 6 double sites for larger groups.

Up to 2 vehicles and 8 people are allowed per campsite. There is an additional charge for the 2nd vehicle.  Double campsites are good for up to 2 vehicles and 12 people, with an extra charge for the 2nd vehicle. The gate is locked at 10pm and campsite check-in must be completed prior to 10pm. Some sites are first-come, first-serve.

Campsites can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs (up to 35 feet). Each campsite also has a table, fire ring and grate. The campground has vault toilets, but no potable water. Firewood is also available for sale from the camp host.

Wheeler Gorge – Area Recreation

The campground offers a nice basecamp for families to explore the Los Padres National Forest.  It can get quite hot here in the summer, but most sites have nice shade.  The area has plenty of trails to hike and explore.  Some of the campsites are located next to the creek.  Outdoor recreation includes hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, wildlife viewing and splashing about in the creek.  Fishing is marginal at best (the creek is not stocked).

If you’re heading toward the coast, you may also be interested in Emma Wood State Beach or McGrath State Beach.

Make a Reservation for Wheeler Gorge

Amenities
  • BBQ Grills
  • Campground Host
  • Campsite Tables
  • Fire Pit
  • Fire Rings
  • Firewood Available
  • Golden Age & Access Passports accepted
  • Grills
  • Pets OK
  • Picnic Tables
  • Restrooms (Vault Toilets)
Activities
  • Biking
  • Bird Watching
  • Creek
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Nature Trails
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Stargazing
  • Walking Trails
  • Wildlife Viewing
17017 Maricopa Highway
Ojai, California 93023
805 434-1996
Lat / Long:

34.51194, -119.27361

Campground Map
Make a Reservation

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Best Campsites

12, 13, 28, 34, 46, 56, 61, 62

Regions
Campsite Types
  • RV
  • Tent
  • Trailer
Season:

Year Round

Elevation:

1,804

# of Campsites:

68

Wheeler Gorge Photos

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Wheeler Gorge Bathroom
Wheeler Gorge Creek
Wheeler Gorge Sign

Wheeler Gorge Comments & Reviews

Visited Wheeler Gorge 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 Wheeler Gorge?

12 Comments on “Wheeler Gorge”

  1. is there close by river access by site #12?

    • Hi Z,
      Wheeler Gorge campsite #12 is very close to the two creeks that run through the campground. You’re probably about 100 feet from either creek.

  2. How far away is the creek from campsite #32?

  3. which campsite are the most remote? we are just 2 people with a tent.

  4. Lisa Conn Akoni says:

    What are the best creek-side campsites (4 people 2 tents) tha are very close to creek, shaded, away from the road, and with some space between other campsites?

    • Hello Lisa!
      Our favorite Wheeler Gorge campsites are 12, 13, 28, 34, 46, 56, 61, 62. Of those – 34, 46, 61 and 62 are along the creek. Campsites 12, 13, 28 are next to a smaller stream. Campsite 46 probably is furthest from road / more private. Perhaps someone else here has some ideas.

  5. Liza Markle says:

    WRITING TO PROTECT OTHER WOMEN & SOLO CAMPERS:

    While I had only been to Wheeler Gorge Campground one other time (back in 2017), I had it on my list of favorite local spots…a beautiful place we could get to within a couple hours that didn’t seem too “campgroundy,” if that makes sense. But my opinion has completely changed thanks to the camp host. Here’s a recount of the events from 10/11/20, and why I cannot recommend anyone go here until changes are made:

    I decided to take a quick one-day SOLO camping trip, and arrived at Wheeler Gorge Campground around 1pm on Sunday. The gentleman at the camp host tent seemed shy, but nice, and he offered to pick out the camp spot for me. He told me about a bear in the area, that there were no fires permitted, took my $25 and sent me to spot #34. Because I’m a 5’5 female, setting up a rooftop tent and awning by myself takes me a while. During this time, a lady came by in a golf cart.

    She said “Are you guys supposed to be in 32?” I said “It’s just me. He assigned me 34…do you want to see the hang tag?”

    She replied by saying, “No, all good. Did he tell you everything? About the bear and no fires?” She seemed to be questioning the other camp host.

    I told her he had told me the rules and I would be sure to pack away all food and toiletries.

    I went on a walk searching for cell signal and was gone from about 3:00-4:00. When I returned and walked past the host tent, there was a different, shorter guy sitting inside. He asked if I needed help, and I explained that I had already checked in. I annoyingly asked if there was any Wifi in the area, and he explained they only have 10MB to spare for their office. Then he asked where I had walked, and we had a short conversation about rock climbers being considered vandalism. It was a nice enough conversation and for the most part, I felt safe with my choice of campground for the night.

    As a side note, I heard the golf cart go past my site a few more times later that afternoon…noticing once that the lady was the driver of the cart. Not sure who was driving the other times because I was sitting on the other side of my truck.

    I retreated to the rooftop tent once it got dark and I started reading. Around 8:30, I heard the golf cart coming down the road and stop at my site. This is a very dark, tree-covered campground, so it is pitch black. The only light was from the golf cart headlights and my reading light. I hadn’t heard the golf cart in hours (and I didn’t hear it again the rest of the night after this incident described below), so clearly the hosts weren’t patrolling or checking on the campsites…so that meant the guy literally got in his cart just to make a special trip to my site.

    I heard a voice say “hello in there” and I sat up to look outside. I saw the shorter man (who was in the camp host tent after my walk) coming towards my truck and he was yelling at me saying “you have broken the rules and you need to un-camp and leave right now.” His demeanor was alarming and he seemed drunk, and I sternly asked him to stop walking and stay where he was.

    From there, he continued to tell me (aka yell at me) that I had broken the rules and I could not park where I was parked. I kept trying to interrupt so I could ask questions and try to understand, but he was belligerent and wobbly and aggressive. He kept saying “we can ask anyone to leave and we can refuse service to anyone, so you need to un-camp right now and leave.”

    As a side note, I have a small truck/rooftop tent set-up. It has an awning, a fridge in the back of the truck, and I put out a table and chair. I had a TINY footprint and almost no items outside my truck. There would be zero reason to be upset with me as a customer of the campground. I had no music playing, no food, and wasn’t even using the campsite table.

    I finally started yelling back, saying “Are you saying I can’t park on flat ground? And are you seriously asking me to break down camp in the pitch black? I’m leaving in the morning! I’m a female by myself in the dark and it would be dangerous and take me forever to tear down.” The quantity of rude and unintelligible words coming out of his mouth was staggering, including “you women just think you can do everything by yourself and get away with whatever you want.”

    Needless to say, I felt 100% threatened. His yelling (and me trying to interrupt) went on for quite a while. I felt he could turn violent at any moment.

    I said, “If I’m breaking the rules, then why did the camp host lady not say anything when she came to talk with me? And why did no one stop the other four times I heard the golf cart go by this afternoon?”

    He then said “You’re lying and I’m going to go ask my wife if she talked with you. But you will need to leave.” He stumbled off, got on his golf cart and I watched him attempt to get it in gear/drive it forward for what seemed like an eternity. He was quite intoxicated.

    I sat there stunned and scared, holding a knife, unsure what to do. I had no cell signal and had seen no other campers near me. If I had gotten out of the tent to start the tear-down process in the dark, I would have felt exposed and vulnerable. And I was worried he had other drunk pals who would come over to scare or threaten me, or do who knows what. I also didn’t want to walk and search for someone else, worried I’d be run down by the drunk guy on a golf cart.

    So I stayed in the tent and I didn’t sleep a wink until it was daylight.

    At some point while I was packing up the next morning, the golf cart came by, but I didn’t see who it was and they didn’t stop. Clearly no one thought I was breaking the rules when it was daylight. When I left the campground, the exit road didn’t take me past the camp host, but I did notice a different, very large guy standing near their tent.

    Obviously the behavior is concerning to anyone outdoors and exposed, no matter if you’re a solo female or a family. I chose not to confront anyone when I was leaving, because I wasn’t sure what type of demeanor I’d get from either husband or wife (assuming they were actually married). With the state of country these days and the attitude that you can just lie and bully your way through an argument, I didn’t want to take the chance of causing a scene and them going berserk.

    My husband and I are trying to go through the proper channels to report this man. But as with many government contract situations, it is way harder than it should be, especially as it relates to the safety of campers. So he has contacted the Forest Service directly, as they have a Harassment Hotline, solely for the purpose of reporting this type of incident in our parks. We have also been in touch with the contractor that “manages” this and many of the campgrounds in California – who has a website of campone.com – They said they are “investigating.”

    Again, I cannot stress enough to stay away from this campground, and any other that is managed by Campone aka “Parks Management Service.” In the end, it is their responsibility to hire and vet employees, and to not outsource their Human Resources Department to the campers that end up being threatened by their belligerent hires.

    • Mai Archer says:

      So sorry to hear that and Thank you for sharing I m almost to go by myself with my little canine too, now I changed my mind.

  6. We have booked site 64 and are wondering how many tents it can fit? In other words, would it be possible to have 4 two-person tents?

    • Hi Sasha,
      Wheeler Gorge campsite #64 has room for 4 two-person tents.

      Keep in mind that you can have up to 2 vehicles and 8 people per campsite. There is an additional charge for the 2nd vehicle.  The gate is locked at 10pm and campsite check-in must be completed prior to 10pm.

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