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California’s Pacific Coast Highway, from Orange County to the coastal redwoods, is home to some of the best parks in the state. Leo Carrillo State Park is one such park, and there are ample RV rentals in Los Angeles County available for your exploration.
Leo Carrillo State Park sits 35 miles north of Santa Monica, near Malibu. The park was named after a famous actor and radio personality who became a major advocate for preserving California’s valuable resources. Leo Carrillo was responsible for protecting much of this coastline, and the park was named in honor of him. The park's history dates back as much as 8,000 years ago when it was inhabited by indigenous people who were known for their seafaring ways.
Beachgoers enjoy what the park provides year-round. There are roughly two miles of coastline perfect for sunbathing, walking, and exploring tide pools. Hiking trails offer great views, wildflowers, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Bring your surfboard and fishing gear; there's something for everyone camping at Leo Carrillo State Park.
Leo Carrillo State Park is best known for its breathtaking coastline. Beachcombers enjoy strolling the sand in the early morning looking for shells as dolphins and sea lions play offshore. Low tide is an excellent time to explore the tide pools, and all of the exotic marine life found hanging on in the rocky, shallow water until the next high tide. As if that weren't interesting enough, several small coastal caves spice things up. You can learn all about these features at the park's visitor center, which features numerous exhibits about the area.
There are seven miles of hiking trails at Leo Carrillo State Park, suitable for all skill levels. The easy Yellow Hill Trail offers lovely views of the beach, and also of the beautiful Channel Islands on a clear day. This is a popular trail to watch for gray whales during migration season, as they pass not too far offshore. The harder Nicholas Flat Trail takes you up into the canyon and is known for its wildflowers. Keep an eye out for wildlife on this trail too, including bobcats, foxes, and numerous species of birds.
There are ample water activity opportunities at Leo Carrillo State Park. It's a great surfing beach, and there are a few breaks favorited by both locals and visitors. Swimming is also popular at the beach, and you can try body surfing if you didn't bring a board. There's plenty to do under the waves also; Leo Carrillo is home to reefs and kelp forests that make for some great exploration by certified divers. If you want to stay more grounded, however, you can fish for perch, bass, and halibut with an appropriate fishing license.
The Leo Carrillo State Park campground has 135 sites in the canyon across the highway, seven of which are wheelchair-accessible. These RV sites are shaded by sycamore trees and offer decent privacy. You’ll find 20, 30, and 50 amp hookups at these sites, as well as a dump station. Spaces are tight, however, and the maximum rig length is 31 feet.
Campground guests are welcome to use the token-operated showers spaced out throughout the campground. Each site is also equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. The campground store should have any of the last-minute essentials that you may have forgotten. Dogs are allowed in the campground at Leo Carrillo State Park as long as they’re on a leash; they’re also permitted in certain areas of the park.
Leo Carrillo State Park’s campground location makes it perfect for further exploration of the Pacific Coast Highway in a rental RV. Point Mugu State Park is just a few miles to the north and Malibu Creek State Park is a few miles to the south. These are only two of the many coastal state parks within an easy days' drive of Leo Carrillo State Park. In addition to the state parks, this area of the California coast is also home to numerous historic Spanish missions.
The city of Malibu is just a few miles south of Leo Carrillo State Park and offers much in the way of grocery stores, restaurants, and even more activities. Sign up for a surf lesson, take a winery tour, or explore museums like the Frederick R. Weisman California art museum at Pepperdine University. Be sure to try one of Malibu’s seafood restaurants while you’re there, as you won’t get anything more freshly caught than that. There are ample opportunities to fill up the gas tank along this section of the coast, whether you head south to Santa Monica or north to Santa Barbara.