5 Best State Parks near Arroyo Grande, CA

Jon Fesmire | September 28, 2021 @ 12:00 AM

Do you live in or around Arroyo Grande and want to go on a camping trip? Well, you don’t have to leave the state or even go as far as Yosemite. Within three hours there are plenty of campgrounds, and we’ve picked our five favorites.


Andrew Molera State Park

About three hours north of Arroyo Grande in Big Sur you’ll find this beautiful state park. One thing that’s great about Andrew Molera State Park is the unspoiled wilderness of it all. The area was formerly a ranch owned by the Molera family and sold to The Nature Conservancy in the 1960s by Frances Molera. The sale came with two stipulations: that the land remains undeveloped, and that it be named for a family member.

The state park features 4,766 acres of beaches, meadows, hills, and trails. There are over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, in fact. Also, locals consider surfing here the most reliable in the area.

You’ll also find great camping here whether you bring a tent or an RV, and there’s also parking for day trips. If you plan to camp, we suggest making a reservation. The weather is usually nice here, with cool winters and warm, but not blazing, summers.


Carpinteria State Beach

Just an hour and a half from Arroyo Grande, we come to Carpinteria State Beach, a state park in the shadow of the Santa Ynez Hills. This is a smaller place to explore and camp. With 62 acres, there’s a lot to see. The beach area is 4,600 feet long, and popular activities here include swimming, bird watching, and exploring the many tidepools.

Check out the Visitor Center for news and information about the grounds and beach and hike on the trails. If you’d like to camp here, whether in an RV or tent, get a reservation via the website. This place is especially popular with the locals during the summer.


Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, CA

Castaic Lake State Recreational Area, a reservoir run by the State Water Project, is an amazing place to camp with 12,658 acres and 29 miles of shoreline to explore. It features the tall Castaic Dam, which rises 425 feet. The park is two and a half hours southeast of Arroyo Grande.

This is an ideal place for tent and RV camping. Fun activities include biking, boating, fishing, hiking, and picnics, and there’s even a playground for kids.

If you’re an angler, you can catch largemouth bass, rainbow trout, striped bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and smallmouth bass. You’ll need to pay a day-use fee to fish in the lake.


Channel Islands National Park, CA

One of the really fun things to do at Channel Islands National Park is to explore the islands from which this place gets its name. Those five islands are Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel. You’ll need to take a three-hour boat ride or a plane from Santa Barbara to get to the major park area on Santa Cruz Island, but you’ll be ready to start a unique adventure. If you take this trip, plan to stay for several days since there’s so much to do.

A popular way to explore the islands is by booking a kayaking trip with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company, which has been in operation since 1998. On each island, you’ll be able to look out for whales, check out the birds and other wildlife like sea lions, and explore walking trails. Each island is unique. For example, Anacapa has a lovely lighthouse, and Santa Rosa has sandstone formations and pygmy mammoth fossils in Lobo Canyon. The beaches have gorgeous white sand, and in some areas, you can go scuba diving.

Each island features a campground, and you can book a trip for 1 to 10 nights.


Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, CA

Two and a quarter hours northeast of Arroyo Grande is the 3,700-acre Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Historically, this site is fascinating. Formerly a town founded by Colonel Allen Allensworth, a former slave, and a group of African American settlers in 1908, those living in the town of Allensworth discovered arsenic in the water in 1966. Sadly, the residents, who had come here to pursue the American dream in peace, had to demolish the town and leave because of safety concerns.

In 1974 the California State Parks system purchased the land and turned it into Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, restoring many of the buildings. These include the schoolhouse, Baptist church, library, and Colonel Allensworth’s home.

Now, this is a beautiful place to go biking, hiking, camping, and learn local history. The park has 15 campsites with sites for RVs and tents, and each site features a fire ring and picnic table. There are also showers and flush toilets nearby.

Need a place to keep your camping gear so it doesn’t take up room in your garage and stays in great condition? We have you covered at Rock Safe Self Storage. You can even store your smaller RV here in one of our 10x20 or 10x24 spaces.