Category: Pinnacles National Park

The Complete Guide to Camping in Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is a true hidden gem. Tucked away in the central heart of California, Pinnacles is home to a variety of rugged landscapes and stunning rock formations. Although…

Pinnacles National Park is a true hidden gem. Tucked away in the central heart of California, Pinnacles is home to a variety of rugged landscapes and stunning rock formations. Although it is one of the country’s youngest National Parks, Pinnacles’ history goes back many millions of years to a time when numerous volcanoes formed the spires, caves, and canyons that make it such a unique and beautiful place.

Many nature lovers will agree that exploring wild places like Pinnacles National Park is best experienced on a camping trip. There’s no better way to bring closure to a day in the outdoors than a night under the stars. Since camping options are limited and Pinnacles is still an off-the-beaten-track destination, it can be challenging to find good information on camping in Pinnacles National Park. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide so you can spend less time planning and more time in the great outdoors. Enjoy!

Wild flowers bloom along the Rim Trail in Pinnacles National Park.
Wildflowers bloom along the Rim Trail in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Cindy Martinez.

In This Post:

Camping Inside Pinnacles National Park

When it comes to camping inside Pinnacles National Park, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that backcountry and dispersed camping are not permitted anywhere within the park. The good news? It’s still possible to enjoy camping in the lovely and convenient Pinnacles Campground, and those looking for more remote dispersed camping have a few good options nearby.

Pinnacles National Park Camping Map
Pinnacles Campground is located on the more developed East side of the park.

Pinnacles Campground

# of sites: 134

Type: Tent, RV, Group, Glamping

Fees: $35 (Standard tent), $45 (RV w/electric), $75-$110 (group) $119 (glamping cabin)

Located near the Visitor’s Center on the East side of the park, Pinnacles Campground offers a range of camping options. There are numerous tent pitches (many with good shade, 6 people max per site), RV sites with electric hookups, glamping cabins, and group sites that can accommodate up to 20 people.

There is a handy campground store on the premises that offers basic food and supplies. A shuttle runs from the campground to the Bear Gulch Nature Center and nearby trailheads.

Looking towards Pinnacles Campground and Bear Gulch.
Looking towards Pinnacles Campground and Bear Gulch. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Amenities:

  • Fire ring
  • Picnic tables
  • Food storage box
  • Flushing toilets
  • Hot showers ($0.50/3 minutes)
  • Wifi
  • Swimming pool
  • General store

Reservations

Due to the limited camping options at Pinnacles, reservations are recommended during the peak wildflower season (March-May), on weekends, and during holidays. Additionally, it is advisable to book in advance if you are wanting an RV site (only 20 total), glamping cabin (6 total), or group site (14 total). Group sites can be booked up to 12 months in advance, while all other sites can be booked up to 6 months in advance.

Reservations can be made at recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777

Pets

Pets are allowed on the paved areas of the campground and must be kept on a leash. You cannot bring your pet on any of the trails in Pinnacles National Park.

Fires

Fires are permitted inside designated fire rings, depending on the time of year. During times of high fire danger, campfires and smoking are prohibited throughout the park (including inside the campground), although propane cooking stoves are typically allowed. Information on current conditions and fire bans can be found on this website.

Wildlife

Pinnacles National Park is a renowned habitat for the critically endangered California Condor. There is a viewing area with telescopes at the Pinnacles Campground; your best chance of seeing one of these beautiful giants is during their evening feeding time. More commonly seen in the campground are racoons, squirrels, and numerous smaller birds, such as the scrub jay. It is imperative that visitors not feed the wildlife, and be sure to keep all of your food inside your car or in the box provided at your campsite.

A California Condor at Pinnacles National Park.
A California Condor spotted in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near Pinnacles National Park

Despite the limited options for camping within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Park, there are plenty of good campgrounds in the surrounding area. For easy access to the East side of the park, the towns of Hollister and King City are each about 30 miles and 40 minutes’ drive away. The west side of the park is more remote, requiring about an hour’s drive (38 miles) from the nearest town of Soledad.

Below we’ve shared our top picks and tips for the best campgrounds near Pinnacles National Park:

Campgrounds Near Hollister, California

Hollister Hills SVRA

For those looking for a more rustic option near Hollister, the Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area offers basic camping options in several campgrounds on the 6,800-acre site. Keep in mind that this is a recreation area for 4WD vehicles and ATVs, so don’t expect it to be particularly quiet.

# of Sites: Varies by campground. (There are 7 campgrounds and 2 remote sites total)

Type: Tents, RVs (no hookups)

Fees: $10/night

Amenities:

  • Flushing toilets
  • Showers (not available at all campgrounds)
  • Water
  • Firepit
  • Picnic tables

Fires: Yes, but seasonal restrictions may apply.

Pets: Yes

Reservations: N/A. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Get there early, as it fills up most weekends.

Hollister Hills SVRA Website

Camping in Hollister California
Car camping+fire pits=Gourmet dinners!

San Benito RV and Camping Resort

Located 14 miles south of Hollister, this is one of the closest camping options to Pinnacles National Park (about a 25-minute drive). The San Benito RV and Camping Resort is a big, busy, well-appointed RV park that doesn’t permit tent camping.

# of Sites: 596

Type: RV, Cabins

Fees: RV sites ($68/night and up), Cabins ($130/night-$300/night)

Amenities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Clubhouse with Wifi
  • Pool/Hot tub
  • Playground
  • Laundry
  • Water

Fires: In barbeques only.

Pets: Allowed for RV camping, but not inside cabins.

Reservations: Recommended for busy weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

San Benito RV and Camping Resort Website

Camping near Hollister California rock climbing
Camping in Hollister gives you close proximity to some of the most popular climbing routes in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near King City, California

San Lorenzo County Park

Conveniently located near the center of King City, San Lorenzo County Park offers a wide variety of campsite types in a shady campground with good facilities.

# of Sites: 100

Type: RV, Tent, Group

Fees: Full Hook-Up ($45/night) Water/Electric or Water-Only ($40/night)

Amenities

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Water
  • Barbeques
  • Picnic tables
  • Laundry
  • Internet kiosk
  • Putting green

Fires: Barbeques only.

Pets: Yes (must be kept on leash), additional fee required.

Reservations: Recommended for busy holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

San Lorenzo County Park Camping Website

Camping in King City California, Pinnacles National Park
Many of the best trails in Pinnacles National Park are less than an hour’s drive from San Lorenzo County Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near Soledad, California

Arroyo Seco Campground

Nestled on a wooded hillside near two small lakes and a river, this rustic campground offers a good option for campers who want to appreciate their natural surroundings. There are some spots that can accommodate smaller RVs, but no hookups are available.

# of Sites: 33

Fees: $30/night

Amenities:

  • Toilets (some flush, some vault)
  • Drinking water
  • Showers (coin-operated)
  • Picnic table
  • Firepit with grill

Fires: Yes, but seasonal restrictions may apply.

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Reservations: Recommended. This is a small campground that gets heavy use throughout the year. Reservations can be made HERE.

Arroyo Seco Campground Website

Camping near the west entrance to Pinnacles National Park.
Camping near Soledad, CA gives you easy access to the West entrance of Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Yanks RV Resort

Yanks RV Resort is well-positioned for easy access to either the western or eastern entrance to Pinnacles National Park. This is an RV-only campground and tents are not permitted.

# of Sites: 79

Fees: $51-71/night

Amenities:

  • Full hook-ups
  • Wifi & cable TV
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques
  • Pool/hot tub
  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Dog park
  • Propane filling station
  • Laundry
  • Store
  • Fitness center

Fires: Yes

Pets: Yes, except for pitbulls, rottweilers, & dobermans.

Reservations: Recommended for busy holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

Yanks RV Resort Website

Pinnacles National Park Camping Caves
Exploring the caves in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Dispersed Camping Near Pinnacles National Park

There are a couple of good options for dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park. The Laguna Mountain BLM area is the closest option to the park, requiring a roughly 50-minute drive to reach the East entrance. The Condon Peak BLM area is just a bit further, about one hour’s drive from Pinnacles National Park’s East entrance. While these camping options may be a bit further than some of the other campgrounds in the area, they provide an affordable and private alternative to the busier RV parks.

Laguna Mountain BLM Recreation Area

There are plenty of secluded spots to be found off any of the roads in the Laguna Mountain area (be sure to read and follow the camping regulations on the website). Stargazers will enjoy the dark night skies here, and hikers should make a short detour to check out one of the waterfalls in the area. Keep in mind that there are no restrooms, water, or trash facilities for dispersed campers. There are also two primitive campgrounds with level spaces to accommodate RV’s, although there are no hook-ups.

# of Sites: Varies

Fees: Free

Amenities:

  • None in dispersed spots
  • Campgrounds have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables

Fires: Seasonal Restrictions may apply

Pets: Yes

Reservations: Not available. Get there early on weekends to find a good spot.

Laguna Mountain BLM Website

Dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park
Dispersed camping allows you to enjoy the peace and solitude of the outdoors.

Condon Peak BLM Recreation Area

Condon Peak Recreation Area is another good option for dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park, although there are a few drawbacks to consider. There is a $5 vehicle permit required for both camping and day use, and Condon Peak is a bit further from Pinnacles than Laguna Mountain. Additionally, the area is quite busy during the summer hunting season. That being said, there are many good dispersed spots and a primitive campground suitable for tents and RVs.

# of Sites: Varies

Fees: $5 vehicle permit (good for one week and must be purchased on recreation.gov)

Amenities:

  • None in dispersed spots
  • Campgrounds have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables

Fires: Seasonal Restrictions may apply

Pets: Yes

Reservations: Not available. Get there early on summer weekends to find a good spot.

Condon Peak BLM Website

Camping near Pinnacles National Park, Balconies Trail

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in Pinnacles National Park. You can watch for the endangered California Condor and other birds of prey, explore the fabulous network of hiking trails, choose from excellent climbing routes suited for a range of ability levels and styles, or venture into one of the incredible talus caves (no special experience or equipment required!) Your next adventure is waiting, and it all starts with the perfect basecamp. Happy camping!

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