Author: Kristin Borg


Headquarters Campground

Sequoia National Forest, Kernville
(760) 376-1815

Primitive-ly fun!

Rating 4-5 - it gets a rating of 4 compared to other primitive spots because there was at least running water.

I stayed in a tent at this campground - in March - buurrrrr…. it was cold at night! Good reminder to check the weather before camping. It’s not fun to tent camp in the rain, cold or wind as a mom. You will have a great story to tell but pure misery in the process - LOL!

I loved how this campground is nestled around the trees and big rocks verses the county clearing room for campers. Let’s not disturb nature. We had fun setting up camp under a tree, checking for rocks before placing down your tent and starting a fire truly outside with a dozen stars all around. Gorgeous! But with that said… the concrete out houses were a bit creepy and stinky. I recommend bringing your own toilet with crystals and showering when you get home.

About 15 minutes away was the little town of Kern River. Simply adorable… nice parks, shopping, cafes and of course the river for kayaking. Warning - this river is no joke. Not something you want your kids swimming in, they will be swept away. There are several campgrounds in the area that are either on the river or off… I recommend doing some research based on your family and the age of your kids.

Would I go again? YES. I had a good time and would probably explore another campground. Why not?

Headquarters Campground

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Lake Piru Campground
(805) 521-1500

Looks good online, but I wasn't impressed.

Rating 1-5 - Bad experience: no camp host, no state patrol officer, completely deserted campground, no grass - just dirt, and no activities for kids.

Back in the day… I have to assume that this campground was a happening place. The lake is within walking distance from the campground, plenty of picnicking spots to hang out and a ramp for boats. I was able to get my paddle board out on the lake, but it was pretty windy. The facilities were pretty clean and they had hot water.

Our last night there, some teenagers came into the grounds to party and it became loud, scary and inappropriate behavior for my kids (thankfully they slept through it all). But this is where I draw the line as a woman and parent… don’t camp somewhere that it’s not being patrolled - either by a camp host or state officer. You will get rift-raft, homeless people and partiers. This could turn into a unsafe experience and cause unnecessary fear for your next camping trip.

Would I go again? Nope. 

Lake Piru Campground

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Wheeler Gorge

(805) 640-1977

Primitive yet gorgeous!

Rating 3-5 - the reasons this campground doesn't have 5 stars is no cell service, no running water, no hook-ups and closest town is 20 minutes down the hill. And when I say no water, I mean no drinking water, no spickets for cleaning, no sinks, and no showers. 

This little campground is quaint and if you want to escape into the Ojai Mountains, you picked the right place. So lush with vegetation, a quiet stream and overall very peaceful. You do need to bring enough water for not only drinking and cooking with, but also for cleaning dishes and freshen up at night. The bathrooms are a concrete out house - definitely gets the job done but plug your nose!

You can reserve spots online through The campground weaves around trees and over streams, and offers large spots - you definitely don't feel like you're intruding on anyone's space. I suggest booking a spot more in the heart of the campground verses along the street edge. Vehicles tend to race through the canyon and generate a bit of noise on that road. 

Would I go again? YES! The Thomas Fires recently swept through this campsite... once it recovers a bit, we will be back.


Wheeler Gorge Campground

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Big Sur
(831) 667-2322

A good time waiting to happen!

Rating 4-5 - the reasons this campground doesn't have 5 stars is no cell service and closest grocery store is 30 minutes away. 

AHH-MAZING experience.... the campground is tucked in a canyon surrounded by tall red trees, a river you can tube down, ice cream at the snack shack, a basketball court and large playground, and nice warm showers with no quarter timer!!

Big Sur reservations extend for many years out and you have to call (or be there) to get a spot. They don't except credit cards for reservations, so be prepared to send a check. I like their style but with no call waiting, it can be a bit irritating hearing the busy tone when you're trying to get through. Patience is a virtue for this campground - worth every penny. Fun times for all ages. 

My favorite spot is being along the river. They have different spots for campers and tents; and they also have preset tents, shacks and cabins too! In my opinion, any spot is great. They are generous and thoughtful when laying out the campground. 

Would I go again? I book every summer... so YES. It's worth the drive. Make sure to hit up grocery store in Carmel before dropping into Big Sur. So much to do!! Bring bikes, remote control cars, board games, hiking boots, tubes and floats... with no cell service, you can actually interact with your peeps or just simply relax!


Big Sur Campground

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