Camping can turn into a complete nightmare when trying to find a spot in the middle of nowhere. Even though you need permits to camp in California, finding a place while you are on the road is not easy.
It’s illegal to camp near the highway. You can only stop your car in case of an emergency wherein you might cause trouble to others or if an office wants you to pull over. Also, if your vehicle is found unattended after 4 hours, it will be removed under California law.
Always keep in mind to avoid camping on the side of the road as it is dangerous and might also lead to robberies. Rest stops and Walmart parking lots are way safer than the side of the road camping spots.
Rules to follow while stopping your vehicle on the side of the road
- Don’t park your vehicle if it says “no parking.”
- Don’t camp on the road walks and sidewalks or even on the curb of the road.
- Don’t camp far away from the vehicle. As per California law, authorities can remove your car after 4 hours if it’s unattended, even if it’s not an obstruction to traffic.
- Set the parking brake before leaving your vehicle.
- Turn your wheels to the side so that the car doesn’t roll if the brake fails.
- When you stop your vehicle, make sure it’s visible at least 200 meters in both directions of the road.
How to avoid camping on the side of the road
- Planning ahead of time on where you would want to take a rest would be the better option.
- Always have two or more alternative camping sites, or even rest stops in mind before you start your trip.
- Wisely use the rest stops during the day to take small naps or during the night.
- Book your spot on a campsite before you plan your trip.
Free Camping spots along the highway
Finding free camping spots when you are in a hurry to camp will be hard. we have listed down the various free camping spots you can take advantage of while traveling in the below routes.
|Routes in california||Places to Camp|
|Santa Barbara Wine Route||Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park|
|Cachuma Lake Recreation Area|
|Los Prietos Campground,|
|Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort|
|Upper Oso Campground|
|Sage Hill Campground|
|Ocean Mesa RV Resort|
|Refugio State Beach Campground|
|El Capitán State Beach Campground|
|Live Oak Camp|
|Cachuma Lake Campground|
|Carpinteria State Beach|
|Sage Hill Group Campground|
|Gaviota State Park Beach & Campground|
|Refugio State Beach|
|Feather River Scenic Byway||River Reflections RV Resort & Campground|
|Feather River Boat Launch|
|Feather River Parkway|
|Oroville / Feather Falls Casino KOA Journey|
|River One RV Park|
|Riffles RV Park & Campground|
|Verona Village Campground|
|Shanghai Park and Feather River beach|
|Feather Falls Campground|
|Gansner Bar Campground|
|Feather River RV and Mobile Home Park|
|Golden Feather Mobile Home Park|
|Bidwell Canyon Campground|
|Bloomer North Fork Trail Campground|
|Anza Borrego Deset Route||Tamarisk Grove Campground|
|Redwood Highway Route||American Canyon Campground|
|North Beach Campground|
|Avila / Pismo Beach KOA|
|Pismo Coast Village|
|Coastal Dunes RV Park & Campground|
|Coastal Dunes RV Park|
|Santa Margarita KOA|
|Hi Mountain Campground|
|Islay Creek Campground|
|Le Sage Riviera RV Park|
|SLO Country Camp|
|Cerro Alto Campground|
|Pacific Dunes Ranch RV Resort|
|June Lake Loop Route||Obsidian Flat Group Campground|
|Lake Front Cabins|
|Parker Lake Trailhead|
|Grant Lake Marina|
|Hartley Springs Campground|
|Aerie Crag Campground|
|Golden Pine RV Park|
|Pine Cliff Resort|
|June Lake RV Park|
|Gull Lake Campground|
|Reversed Creek Campground|
|Lake Tahoe Circular Route||Emerald Bay Boat Camp|
|Nevada Beach Campground|
|Emerald Bay State Park|
|Camp Richardson Campground|
|Lake Forest Campground|
|Fallen Leaf Campground|
|Eagle Point Campground|
|City of Lake Tahoe Campground|
|Meeks Bay Campground|
|Upper Eagle Point Campground|
|Silverado Trail||China Camp Campsite|
|Stewartville Backpacking Campsite|
|Back Ranch Meadows Campground|
|Butano Trail Camp|
|Black Mountain Backpack Camp|
|Soledad Canyon RV & Camping Resort|
|Death Valley Scenic Byway||Furnace Creek Campground|
|Texas Springs Campground.|
|Stovepipe Wells Campground|
|Panamint Springs RV Park|
|Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes|
|Mahogany Flat Campground|
|Saline Valley Warm Springs|
|Furnace Creek Resort Campground|
|Mesquite Spring Campground|
|Homestake Dry Camp|
|Mosaic Canyon Trail|
|Eureka Dunes Dry Camp|
|Warm Springs Camp|
|Big Sur Coastal Route||Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park|
|Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground|
|San Diego to Palm Springs||Marion Mountain Campground|
|Santa Rosa Yellow Post Sites|
|Palm Springs / Joshua Tree|
|San Francisco to Sonoma||San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA|
Rules to follow while traveling on the road during summer
- Flat tires are the NO 1 reason for stopping your car while traveling on a highway.
- Before you start your trip, always check your tire pressure. You can get a tire pressure gauge from amazon for under $10.
- Don’t be distracted while driving on a highway. Most people think that driving is their downtime, but in reality, driving is when your 100 percent attention should be on the road, no matter how good you are.
- If you are nearby Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego, get an all-inclusive pass to stop your vehicle anywhere in the city.
- Always have some extra cash in hand, even if you are a credit card fanatic.
- Always carry a spare set of car keys; you might not know when you will need them.
- Have a roadside emergency kit in your car during road trips.
- Carry physical maps with you, as you cannot count on cell phone coverage everywhere.
- Don’t start your road trip if you don’t have a Dashcam installed. Then, if something happens, you will have some evidence that it’s not your fault.
- Carry a trash bag in your car so that you don’t have to stop while on the highway.
Rules to follow while traveling on the road during winter
- Be smooth with your acceleration and reduce your speed in half while you are cornering.
- Don’t try to act as a fast and furious driver in ice and snow; it won’t work in your favor.
list of Things to take with you on your road trip
- Stack your car with as many snacks as you can. You will never know when you will get hungry.
- Have some fresh fruits with you if it’s going to be a long road trip.
- Take more than one Reusable water bottle in your car.
- Download all the movies you need on your phone before your trip.
- Sick of listening to radio stations, use audible to listen to audiobooks to keep you entertained the whole journey.
- Duffle bags are the most durable traveling bags that you can use outdoors.
- Don’t forget to take a GoPro with you; recording the experiences you have on your trip is a must.
- If your road trip is going to involve hikes, please take binoculars on your journey.
How to prep your car for a road trip
- Find a fule price app before you start your trip like GasBuddy, which will save you a lot of money.
- Check your tire thread; this will ensure your grip throughout the journey.
- Take your car to a mechanic and check your disc brand pad thickness; you don’t want to have worn brakes on the road.
- Check your oil and make sure it’s adequate, or you will be wearing the life of your engine.
- Check your belts, and they are crucial for everything in your car; you can get stranded because of a belt failure more than not having enough oil.
- Make sure all your lights are working in your vehicle.
- Inspect your terminals in car battery; if there is corrosion, clean it up.
- Don’t forget to get a battery jump starter, and this will prevent you from getting stranded.
Camping on the side of the road and is dangerous. Theft and accidents often happen along the highway. Camping in a secure campground will provide you with more security. If you don’t like to book a spot on a camping ground, there are still places where you camp for free.
Take the options that are safe and be intentional in everything that you do. Try to stay away from tech as much as you can on a road trip, and this will make sure that you have a good time. Capture the experiences and have fun.