SP Campground Review – North Beach Campground, Pismo Beach, CA
A fabulous beach-side State Park with very reasonable off-season rates in Pismo Beach, Central CA coast. Officially 36-foot max, but *some* sites will accept bigger rigs.
- Site Quality = 4/5
Very nice campsites here, with just a few minor dings. The campground contains 102 sites arranged around a circular loop as a mix of paved back-ins & pull-thoughs. The back-ins are very short and can only accommodate ~21-25-foot max length. The pull-throughs are long and curved, and officially rated to accept 31-feet (trailer) or 36-feet (RV). However depending on how curved they are and how many trees/rocks they have in the way of the curve, *some* can comfortably accommodate bigger rigs. We estimated we could fit our 40-foot “beast” into around half of the pull-throughs whereas the other half were too tight/crowded/tree’d and did not allow enough swing room to get our rig in/out. Otherwise separation is excellent (lots of space between sites!), sites are perfectly flat and vegetation is a pleasant mix of green grass and trees (some sites are wide open for solar, some have partial shade). All sites also offer spacious “sitting areas” containing picnic table and firepit. Sites #7-31 are nearest beach access (slightly quieter), while sites #57-76 are closest to Hwy 1 (slightly noisier). NO hookups (dry camping only), but generators permitted between 8AM and 8PM.
Note #1/ Official check-in time is 2PM and if the front booth is open they are VERY strict about enforcing it (you can check-in and pay for your site before 2PM, but you can’t physically get in until after 2PM). If the booth isn’t open (off-season) you can self-check-in and park anytime.
Note #2/ Extra vehicles cost $5/day each unless they are physically towed in. So, if you tow make sure you don’t disconnect until after you’re through the payment booth.
- Facilities = 3/5
Decent facilities. Several buildings around camp with flush toilets and individual, spacious shower stalls (with bench and clothes pegs) all kept nicely clean. Only dings are that showers are paid ($1 for two 2-min tokens) and water pressure was low (temps were nicely warm, but you could tell everytime someone flushed the toilet next door). On-site dump station & potable water (one threaded spigot at the dump station) plus lots of non-threaded water spigots around the camp loops.
- Location = 5/5
This is an absolutely top-notch location. The campground is directly next to lovely Pismo Beach (just a small dune to cross) which offers miles of sandy hiking/surfing/play and also right next to the famous Monarch Butterfly Grove which is an amazing thing to see when they’re here (between late Oct and Feb). Also you’re walking distance to downtown Pismo (accessible by pavement along Hwy 1 or via the beach) which has tons of cute little beach shops & food. Plus you’re only a few minutes biking/drive to Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande (Figueroa Mountain Brewing…yummy!). A last bonus is that you’re completely separated from the ATV/OHV area of Pismo which is several miles further south, so it’s nicely quiet here and you don’t have to worry about traffic on the beach.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Fabulous spot for pooch. Lots of grassy space to hang out in camp (with lots of & birds, ducks and squirrels in camp to keep paws visually entertained) and direct access to miles of 100% dog-friendly beach next door. Plus you can walk into town & find several pooch-friendly spots to eat/relax there too (highly recommend Orange Cat Cafe and Mon Ami!). Just be aware that the beach here is leash-only and rangers do patrol it regularly to enforce the rules. So, no off-leash doggie play here. Poo bags provided on site.
Overall Rating = 4.25
BONUS ALERT = Camp next to a dog-friendly beach and a super cute beach town!
Summary: It honestly doesn’t get much better than this. A lovely, spacious, quiet campground with plenty of green grass next to a 100% dog-friendly beach and walking distance from a super cute beach town? Sign me up!! We had this campground on our “list” for many years and although it’s technically got a 36-foot limit we heard rumors from other RVers that we could possibly get in, so we decided to give it a go and we are SO glad we did! There are no hookups here (dry camping only), but sites are just lovely. Beautiful flat, paved sites with excellent separation, spacious “sitting areas” and a mix of trees and wide-open views. Back-ins are VERY short (21-25-foot max only), but some of the pull-throughs can accomodate larger rigs depending on how curved they are and how many trees/rocks are in the way of rig swing as you pull in (we estimated we could fit into around 1/2 of the pull-throughs). Beach access is right next door and 100% dog-friendly plus you can walk to downtown (either along the pavement by Hwy 1 or along the beach) and bike/drive to nearby Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande. Another huge bonus is that North Beach Campground does not offer any day-use area and is physically separated (by several miles) from the official OHV area of Pismo (Oceano Dunes SVRA), so it’s nicely quiet and you don’t have to worry about sand traffic when you’re out walking on the sand. You do (occasionally) hear the trains going by a few miles away thro’ Pismo, but it’s not loud by camp and mostly the sound of birds & nearby ocean wash everything out. We came here in the off-season which means we had a pick of campsites upon arrival (first-come-first-serve) and we only paid $25/night. In high season the campground goes on the Reserve America reservation system (it’s typically very heavily booked), plus rates rise to $35/night. We felt incredibly relaxed in camp, had a ton of fun on the beach with doggie, sampled lots of good food & beer, and thoroughly enjoyed our daily walk into town. Overall we LOVED our stay and will definitely be back in the future!!
Extra Info: Solid cell signal ( 3 bars ATT LTE, 3 bars Verizon LTE.). 102 total sites. Sites cost $25/night in off-season (~mid-Sept through mid-May, first-come-first-serve only), $35/night in high season (~mid-May through mid-Sept). Senior discount $2/night. In high season the campground is on the reservation system and reservations are highly recommended! Tow cars do NOT cost extra if towed in. NO hookups (dry camping only). 14-day stay limit. On site garbage, recycling, dump station and potable water.
Extra, Extra Info – OTHER CAMPING:
Lots of other camping options around Pismo Beach, depending on what you’re looking for.
- Beach Boondocking & OHV (Oceano SVRA) – A few miles south of North Beach you can physically drive your rig onto the sand at Oceano Beach SVRA and go crazy off-roading on the dunes. This is the only State Park in CA you can do this and it is very popular & crowded on weekends and in summer. You have to drive one mile on sand from the entrance booth to the camping area and it’s easy to get stuck so watch the tides, air down your tire before you drive in and be sure to park above the water line. Costs are $10/night (14 day stay limit).
- Private Parks – Several private parks in the area, the nicest of which is undoubtedly Pismo Coast Village which is literally right next to North Beach SP. Full hookups, big enough for any-sized rig, food, pool for $49-$66/night. Pricey, but very nice. Other private parks are around the same price, but not quite as nice IMHO.
- County Parks – SLO County manages two county parks in the Pismo Beach area, Coastal Dunes and Oceano. They have hookups and will accept bigger rigs (listed as to 40′), but at $46/night they are rather pricey. Coastal Dunes has Hwy 1 and the railroad tracks on either side so it tends to be noisy. Oceano is closer to the dunes and is definitely the nicer location of the two.
- Elks (Members Only) – The Elks operate a very nice lodge (#2504) by Oceano Dunes offering full hookups for $25/night. Reservations taken. Elks MEMBERS only.
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