Open Year-round
Yes
Reservations possible?
Yes
RV Hookups
No
Potable water
Yes
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

El Capitan State Beach Campground is nestled along the the picturesque stretch of coastline lying between Goleta and Point Conception known as the Gaviota Coast. When driving west from Santa Barbara, El Capitan, or “El Cap,” is the first of three state park campgrounds. The state park is open for both day use and overnight camping.

With 132 campsites available year-round, a camp store, and restroom and shower facilities, El Cap is a popular destination. Online reservations for weekends and holidays are recommended at least two weeks before you plan to stay. Campers share the state beach with day users. Campsite zones are split into four loops, each containing roughly 30 sites. Five additional group camping sites are peppered throughout the campground, and 9 RV-only sites are also available. Please note that El Capitan State Beach no longer has an RV dump station.

Campsites are mostly shaded and situated under coast live oaks, western sycamores and eucalyptus. Sites 1-28 are located near El Capitan Creek (seasonal flow) and provide more privacy. Sites 29-124 are slightly elevated on the coastal bluff. are less private, and they offer better access to ocean views. Some are shaded others are not. Potable water faucets are located throughout the campground, as are restrooms and showers.

A highlight of the area, El Cap visitors are treated to beautiful views of the ocean, the Santa Ynez mountains, and the surrounding coastline.  Recreational opportunities include hiking trails, a coastal bike trail, beach and ocean access, and for the patient surfer, the potential to surf one of the premier right hand point breaks in the area. Wildlife viewing can also be good here; look for intertidal critters, seabirds, dolphins, harbor seals and spouting grey whales during their annual migration.

Keep an eye out for poison oak in and around the campground, creek area, and along the hiking trails. As is the case throughout the central California coast, poison oak thrives here. Rattlesnakes are also seen on occasion.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Adjacent to ocean. Surf potential. Shaded campsites. Beautiful coastline

Cons

Often crowded. Near Highway 101. Foggy during summer months. Some poison oak.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Managed by

California State Parks

Reservation phone number

1 (800) 444-7275

Features

ADA accessible
Flushing toilets
Showers
Potable water
Picnic tables
Horseshoes
Amphitheater

Recommended Campsites Without Photos

3-7, 9-11, 14, 15, 18, 21, 39, 41, 42, 44, 82-86,

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

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