Manresa Upland Campground

by Garrett McAuliffe

Manresa Upland campground earns its reputation as one of the most scenic in California. On bluffs overlooking a sand-lipped bowl of Pacific blue, 60-odd campsites unwind over three loops woven with sagebrush, lupine and other native coastal scrub. It’s a well-planned, clean and cozy spot, more secluded than any other seaside camping in the county.

The campground here is walk-in only – meaning you can keep the luxuries of car camping (think: folding chairs, full cookouts and thick summer novels) while escaping the thrum of motor homes and passing cars. You’ll just need to lug your coolers and gear the short distance from the drop-off parking lot to your site. (It’s a good idea to bring a wagon if you have one to help with the haul.)

The Manresa Uplands Campground offers awesome walk-in camping in a cliff-top meadow above the beach. Follow this link and let our friends at Hipcamp hook you up.

To reach the campground, drive a mile south past the main entrance to Manresa State Beach on San Andreas Road and turn onto Sand Dollar Drive. The sea’s bidding calm is immediate as you enter, steeped in a familiar off-shore breeze scented with pine and eucalyptus, and the sound of waves unfurling in a drifting rumble.

It’s wise to reserve early. The campground is only open for the long summer season, mid-May to the end of October, and fills up for weekends well in advance. Willow Loop is largely set in a meadow, with campsites a little more spread out. The Bay and Lupine areas just to the south offer more shade. Rangers drive around at night selling firewood, but at $10 a bundle you may want to haul in your own splits as well.

Hot showers are 25 cents for two minutes. There are free outdoor spouts to wash off sand nearer to the beach, which is a 5-minute walk from camp through beautiful, sand-swept bluffs. Each campsite comes with a fire pit, water pump, picnic table and food locker. Dogs are allowed on leash at the campground and on the beach. Alcohol is permitted at the campground only.

Camping is $35/night; check for availability and make reservations here.

Manresa Beach Rd, La Selva Beach, CA, 95076. 831.761.1795.

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