San Clemente State Beach | Outdoorsy

San Clemente State Beach
Guide

Introduction

Situated on the coast of the Golden State of California, San Clemente State Beach is the perfect destination for your next RV getaway. The area is known for its abundant wildlife and enjoyable climate year-round. Most days you can expect the highs to be in the 60s and 70s, but it may drop down to the 40s when night falls, so come prepared.

The San Clemente State Beach area is also rich in cultural and natural history that would excite even the kids. The tall sandstone bluffs along the beach were formed over millions of years of wind and sea erosion, carving out the canyon walls you see today. You may even think the bluffs resemble a desert setting, and you're not the only one. The bluffs have been used to shoot several western movies and TV shows.

Aside from snapping pictures of the beautiful scenery, you can also explore the nature trails, enjoy a nice picnic, or go down to the beach and surf, swim, relax, boogie board, play, and fish. Whether you love cultural history or not, don't leave without checking out the one-of-a-kind Visitor's Center, which was originally a Spanish Colonial cottage.

Choose between RV and tent sites with full hookups, tent sites, and group campsites when you stay at San Clemente State Beach. This State Beach also allows the use of generators, so if you can bring along yours if you'd like.

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Camping Accommodations

30'
Max RV length
30'
Max trailer Length
Electrical hookup
Water hookup
Generator use
Food storage
Sewer hookup
Dogs & cats

RV Rentals in San Clemente State Beach

Transportation

Driving

San Clemente State Beach is located just about smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego. The entrance of San Clemente State Beach can be easily accessed from I-5. The city of San Clemente is just a short drive of 2.4 miles away. If you are looking for supplies or a restaurant, you'll find it there. As long as RVers stick to the I-5, they won't encounter any obstacles or height restrictions.

Once inside the park, the roads are paved and mostly level, so they shouldn't pose too many problems while trying to drive on them. The roads within the campground are somewhat narrow, and it may be difficult to make some of the turns if you are going too fast. You'll want to maintain the park's maximum speed limit of 15 mph when you enter the park, especially if you are towing a vehicle.

Towing an extra vehicle isn't necessary when visiting San Clemente State Beach, especially if you are only staying for a night or two, because the park isn't all that big. But if you plan on staying for several nights, an extra vehicle may be useful so that you can easily get in and out of the park. Many visitors choose to explore the park on foot or by bike, but you should keep in mind that bikes are not allowed in all parts of the park. For example, the nature trail above the RV campground does not allow bikes.

Parking

Parking is available at each campsite, and there is also the day use and overflow parking lot for any additional vehicles you tow. You will need to pay for parking if you are just a day visitor, but it's well worth the expense.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in San Clemente State Beach

Campsites in San Clemente State Beach

Reservations camping

RV Campground at San Clemente State Beach

The campground at San Clemente State Beach is any RV vacationer's dream come true. With 72 sites available with water, sewer, and electricity hookups, everything you need to have an enjoyable camping experience is there for you. The parking spurs at the campsites are paved and level and can accommodate RVs up to 30 feet in length. Several of the campsites may be able to accommodate slightly larger rigs, but you'll want to check with park staff before booking your site.

Each site features a shade ramada, picnic table, and fire ring. Restrooms and pay showers are available at two different locations within the campground and a dumping station is nearby. There is lots to explore at San Clemente State Beach, and luckily it is all pretty close to the RV campground. A nature trail is located directly above the campground and the shorter Butterfly Trail is located beside it. Of course, the beach is just a short walk away as well. Your pet is welcome to stay with you at the campground, although dogs are not allowed on the beach or the trails and should be kept in a tent or vehicle during the night. Feel free to also bring along your radios, TVs, and generators, which are permitted to be used at the campground between 10 AM and 8 PM.

Tent Campground at San Clemente State Beach

If you prefer to park your rig elsewhere and pitch a tent there are 87 tent campsites available to choose from at San Clemente State Beach. You can find the tent campground adjacent to the RV campground. These sites are not only limited to tent campers and RVers can camp on these sites as well. However, the sites are not outfitted with hookups, which some RVers might prefer. Sites 74 to 94 have the best location on the edge of the cliffs and offer the most breathtaking views.

You can rest easy about the safety of your children when you camp here, a fence encases the campground and prevents people from reaching the edge of the cliffs. Each site can sleep a total of eight people, and if you are specifically looking for an ADA-accessible site, you can reserve sites 74, 104, 134, 156.

If you need to use a dump station, you'll find one nearby. Three communal restrooms with showers and flushing toilets can be found within the tent campground, but you'll need to bring along quarters to use the showers. When you walk to the restrooms at night, it is advised that you walk with a flashlight as there is wildlife like skunks walking around.

Similarly to the RV campground, you are allowed to bring along your radios, TVs, and generators. You can also bring along your furry friends on your camping trip away. Sites 100 to 160 are closed from October to April, except during major holiday stretches. The remaining 26 sites are available to choose from throughout the year.

First-come first-served

RV Campground at San Clemente State Beach

You may be lucky enough to get a campsite without reservations, but no sites are specifically first-come, first-served, so make reservations if you want to be guaranteed a spot.

Alternate camping

Group Camping #1 at San Clemente State Beach

Two group camps are available to reserve for groups looking to go camping together. Each group site can accommodate up to 50 people and is equipped with picnic tables and a fire ring. You'll find these group camps near the tent campground, and site #1 sits overlooking the cliffs with a stunning view. From this site, you can access the beach along a paved trail that has a sharp incline. Site #2 has a beautiful partial view of the cliffs, and campers can also access the beach via a service road a sharp incline. Group campers are also welcome to bring along radios, TVs, generators, and their pets, as long as their furry friends are kept on a leash. Group campers will have access to the tent campground restrooms and should remember to bring along quarters for the showers.

Seasonal activities in San Clemente State Beach

Off-Season

Picnicking

The day use and picnic areas are open year-round, providing the perfect scenic setting for any picnic or gathering when you want to get out of the camper. The day-use area has 26 picnic sites available and each one has a table, shaded ramada, and a stove. The picnic area sits atop the bluffs 150 feet above the beach, so you can watch the waves crash as you enjoy a meal with your friends or family. You'll find comfort stations a short distance away with flushing toilets. Larger group picnic areas are available, which is great for larger groups or parties, just be sure to always clean up after yourself to keep the beach and surrounding areas beautiful and to keep the wildlife at bay.

Exploring the Butterfly Trail

The Butterfly Trail is open year-round but is especially alluring in the winter during the Monarch migration. Monarchs migrate each year to get out of the cold and what could be better than this sunny warm coast of California? The Butterfly Trail is a short loop that starts above the RV campground and continues down towards the other end. The trail is ADA-accessible and also suitable for bikes, making it a must for all visitors.

Wildlife Viewing

San Clemente State Beach is rich in wildlife all year long, but it may be easier to enjoy during the off-season when it is not so busy. Whether you are relaxing on the shore or strolling down the nature trail you are likely to see an abundance of local wildlife including squirrels, raccoons, lizards, snakes, doves, hawks, ravens, and maybe even coyotes or foxes. Feel free to snaps some photos when you see them, but be sure to keep a safe distance from wildlife and never feed them.

In-Season

Snorkeling

Unsurprisingly, San Clemente State Beach is a popular snorkeling destination. A whole aquatic world of sea stars and other awesome creatures await you just under the surface of the ocean. Snorkeling can be a fun way to enjoy the afternoon as a family or a great opportunity to explore solo. Make sure to also watch where you swim and keep track of time. However, snorkeling gear is not available at the park so be sure to bring your own in your rig or rent some before arriving.

Fishing

Visitors to the state beach can enjoy fishing on the pier, which has a fish-cleaning station, lights, and benches. You can also find a little shop on the pier that sells fishing tackle if you need anything. If you'd prefer to be out on the water, you can try another activity many visitors enjoy, surf fishing. After obtaining a valid California fishing license you will be ready to start catching creatures such as bass, yellowfin, jacksmelt, and corbina. If you're willing to get your hands dirty you may even be able to catch some crabs, mussels, and grunion. You will have to bring your own fishing rods, though, because they are not provided at the park. And always exercise caution when fishing around other people.

Enjoying the Beach

The mile-long stretch of beach is the perfect place to soak up some sun, whether you're on the shore or in the water. Although it may be busy during peak season, the ocean is a great place for the whole family to swim and play, while experienced will surfers love the waves you can catch. However, the waves are not too big or too strong for beginners to get out there and give it a try, especially on a paddleboard. So park your rig at the beach and get ready to soak up the rays of the California sun.

Find the perfect campsite.