Park your RV at the Emma Wood State Beach Campground and enjoy beachfront views right from your window! The park's campground has 86 RV sites with unobstructed ocean views. Enjoy long walks on the sand, relaxing in your beach chair, and swimming in the Pacific Ocean during your stay.
This historic beach once belonged to the 8,000-acre sheep ranch owned by Emma Grubb Wood. The land was donated to the State of California in 1956, following Emma's death. The Emma Wood State Beach was opened to the public in 1957. The City of Ventura owns the adjoining Seaside Wilderness Park, where various types of wildlife can be seen. Enjoy hiking on the Ocean's Edge Trail or exploring two World War II artillery emplacements on the beach.
Located between Santa Barbara and Ventura, off the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, you cannot beat the location of this campground. The only downside is that you'll need to be fully self-sustaining at this campground without hookups or bathhouses. However, with a perfect location at the water's edge, most RV campers are willing to make these sacrifices and dry camp for a few days to enjoy the natural beauty all around them.
RV Rentals in Emma Wood State Beach
Transportation in Emma Wood State Beach
Emma Wood State Beach is located just off Highway 101, three miles north of the city of Ventura, CA. From Santa Barbara, CA it's about a half-hour's drive south on Highway 101. It's easy to reach the park with a larger rig as it is right off of the highway. Once inside the state beach, however, you may have some trouble turning around in tighter spaces.
All of the ocean-front campsites are back-in only. They are fairly close together, so you'll get to know your neighbors while parked here! Your RV will be parked on asphalt, dirt, or sand surface. The sites are not level, so be ready to use your leveling blocks. Some campers have reported that there is not a lot of room for navigating around the campground, with some tight turns here and there. Your vehicles and trailers need to be parked within the space allotted, not hanging over the end.
Campgrounds and parking in Emma Wood State Beach
Campsites in Emma Wood State Beach
This is the main campground at the state park, limited to self-contained RVs and Trailers. There are no hookups here, but generators are allowed to be used during the day. Portable toilets can be found, but there is no bathhouse and no dump station. Prepare ahead of time and bring in your own water, as there's no potable water at the campground. Some of the campsites have rocks for fire circles.
Many campers have commented that there is a lot of noise here due to both a freeway and a railroad track that run very close to the campground. Although trains don't blow their whistles, they are still loud and come by multiple times a day. Most campers feel that the location on the beach makes up for the inconvenience of noise and aren't too bothered by it.
Campsites may hold up to eight people and three vehicles (including trailers) per site. Reservations are required during peak season and can be made up to six months in advance.
The main campground is open for reservations only during the peak season. During the off-season, sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are not many places where you can snag a beachside campsite all year-round.
If you are taking an RV road trip but need a place to stay for one night, this is the perfect place. This campground is intended for RVs just passing through for the night. Campers staying here arrive late in the day and need to vacate their sites by 9 a.m.
Ventura River Group Camp
Four group camps may accommodate up to 30 people each. This is a tent-only campsite. There is a cold-water-only shower and chemical toilets available at this campground, as well as access to piped water. Each group campsite may have up to five licensed vehicles. Extra vehicles can use parking spaces in the day use lot.
A group RV area is also available here, which can fit up to 50 people and 20 self-contained vehicles.
Seasonal activities in Emma Wood State Beach
There's nothing like a swim in the brisk waters of the Pacific Ocean. This campground has an excellent swimming area, where it's easy to get in and out of the water. Enjoy the calm waters and do some serious swimming, or just play near the water's edge. Feel free to bring inflatables along, just keep an eye out for surfers!
Surfers enjoy Emma Wood State Beach for its reliable beach break waves. It's a popular spot to catch waves that break to the right here, especially in the summer months. There are many local surf shops nearby that can help you with gear and supplies.
A quarter-mile off shore is the larger Ventura Overhead, which only breaks a few times a year. At these times, expect to find plenty of surfers out there, trying to catch the big one.
Kitesurfing is another activity you may see at this beach with good wind conditions. It is not recommended for beginners, however, and kite surfers always need to watch out for other beach-goers.
If you're looking for a place to relax on the beach during your RV road trip to California, Emma Wood State Beach is a perfect choice. Most campers at this state park enjoy finding a great spot on the white sandy beach and relaxing in the sun. It's a great beach for kids to dig or build sand castles. While the water is not super warm, it is calm enough for all ages to go in and cool off for a few minutes before returning to their favorite spot on the beach.
With the convenience of having your RV right behind you, you can sunbathe for an hour, go make yourself lunch, and head on back to the beach. The beach is not usually very crowded and you can enjoy a peaceful day taking in the crashing waves. You can also watch pelicans and an occasional dolphin swim by if you're lucky. On a clear day, you'll have views of the Channel Islands.
Spend an hour hiking the easy one and a half mile loop on the Ocean's Edge Trail. Just out of the group campground and picnic area, you'll find the trail leading underneath the railroad bridge. There is little elevation gain on the hike.
About two-thirds of a mile in, there's an estuary located where the Ventura River meets the Pacific Ocean, and many sea birds can be seen here. Pelicans, egrets and even great blue herons have been spotted in this area. As you head back to the campground, there is also a trail that leads to the right and can take you along the River's Edge Trail if you feel like more exploring.
Both trails allow for wildlife viewing and a little exercise to start off your relaxing day at the beach!
Surf fishing is another popular activity you can enjoy at Emma Wood State Beach. Anglers usually cast in from the mouth of the Ventura River, where it meets the ocean or off the shore north of the campground. Popular fish caught here include perch, halibut, corbina, and bass.
While fishing, keep your eye out for other wildlife, as dolphins are known to swim by this area. Pacific white-sided dolphins, bottle-nose dolphins, and Risso's dolphins have all been spotted off the coast of the campground.
If you are a fan of cycling don't forget to pack your bicycle in your camper when you stay at this state beach. The popular Omer Rains Coastal Bike Trail begins right next to the Emma Wood State Campground. It is a scenic beach route along the Ventura Pacific Coast, leading into the city and eventually to the San Buenaventura State Beach.
The Ventura River Trail is also accessible from the campground and heads inland along the former Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad. This bike trail links to the Ojai Valley Trail, which gradually leads you uphill and into the city of Ojai. It is 17 miles total if you were to link all three bike trails from Ojai down to the historic Ventura Pier. Since Emma Wood is in the middle of the two endpoints, you can make two different nine-mile bike trips from the campground.