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Best Off-Grid Camping in Southern California

Photo by AlessandroBiascioli via Shutterstock

Although camping in campgrounds is relaxing and fun, if you want a more adventurous experience, off-grid camping could be just what you need. That said, one of the top places in the country for off-grid camping is Southern California. It’s littered with deserts, forests, and BLM land where you can go dispersed camping to your heart’s content!

In this article, we’ll share five places home to the best off-grid camping in Southern California. From dusty deserts to pine-filled forests, there are options here for everyone. Furthermore, we’ll recommend a fantastic camping companion that will transform how you camp forever.

Now, whether you are planning a weekend escape from the city or an epic cross-country road trip, join us as we explore the best off-grid camping in Southern California!

Check out the video above by Artistic Off-Road for a detailed guide to dispersed camping in Southern California.

Table of Contents

Best Off-Grid Camping in Southern California: Alabama Hills

Movie road in the California's Alabama Hills at Sunrise

Photo by chasehunterphotos via Shutterstock

Located about four hours outside of Los Angeles, Alabama Hills is home to the best off-grid camping in all of California. It sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and is one of the most geologically unique places in the country, boasting tons of alien-like rock formations. Thanks to its special appearance, many Hollywood movies have filmed scenes here.

There are a handful of designated first-come, first-serve campgrounds scattered throughout the area, but legally, you can camp anywhere. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to reach many places besides the official campsites. Currently, you don’t need a permit to sleep in Alabama Hills, but a free permit for dispersed camping is expected to be required soon. 

Best Off-Grid Camping in Southern California: Anza-Borrego

Wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Southern California.

Photo by Jnjphotos via Shutterstock

The area in and around Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park is another place that offers some of the best off-grid camping in Southern California. It is a beautiful, rugged park home to many rare desert plants and animals. Spring is an especially good time to visit because the landscape erupts with a tsunami of wildflowers.

Only a 90-minute drive from San Diego, Anzo-Borrego is the perfect place for weekend warriors looking to make the most of their limited free time. It’s an official member of the International Dark Sky community, making it one of the top places in the States for stargazers and astrophotographers. Also, its vast sand dunes are great for quads and dirt bikes. 

Best Off-Grid Camping in Southern California: Joshua Tree

Desert at sunrise with Joshua trees. .

Photo by Nikolay 007 via Shutterstock

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most picturesque national parks in the country and is a great place for off-grid camping. Although you can only camp in designated campgrounds inside the park, endless places to enjoy wild camping exist as soon as you exit the park’s borders. Joshua Tree South and Joshua Tree Lake are two areas that are ideal for off-grid camping.

Located next to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree is a magical desert oasis equidistant from Los Angeles and San Diego. The park is named after the unique tree-like yuccas that dominate the land. Additionally, its vast and barren environment makes it a dream destination for rock climbing and off-roading enthusiasts.

Best Off-Grid Camping in Southern California: Death Valley

Colorful Death Valley National Park in the Spring time.

Photo by Narrow Window Photography via Shutterstock

In a place with one of the most memorable names in the country, you can also find some of the best off-grid camping in Southern California—Death Valley. Inside Death Valley National Park, primitive camping is limited, but similar to Joshua Tree, outside the park is 100% free game. When exploring this area, having a vehicle with high ground clearance and 4-wheel drive is a good idea. 

Situated in the Mojave desert along the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley can get incredibly hot in the summer. In fact, it’s the hottest and driest place in the USA! Therefore, we strongly suggest visiting in spring, autumn, or winter. One of the reasons it’s so hot is that it’s the only place in the country below sea level. 

Best Off-Grid Camping in Southern California: Angeles National Forest

View of San Gabriel Canyon from the South Mt Hawkins Lookout Trail in the Angeles National Forest area of Los Angeles County, California.

Photo by trekandshoot via Shutterstock

If you live in Los Angeles, the closest place to go off-grid camping is the San Bernardino National Forest. In the Angeles National Forest, you can only camp in designated campgrounds, but luckily, dispersed camping is permitted in San Bernardino. Due to the dry climate, though, you should familiarize yourself with the rules of dispersed camping

The most important thing to remember is that no wood or charcoal fires are allowed. Moreover, vehicles must stay on roads and pullouts at all times. While it might not present the same number of opportunities for adventurers as the other places on this list, it’s a solid option for people looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of LA. 

The Best Camping Solution for Camping in Southern California

truck camper bed by Campluxe Cabovers at the beach

While RVs, vans, trailers, and tents are all good options for exploring the backcountry, if you are a truck owner and want to experience the best off-grid camping in Southern California, you need a truck camper bed! With that in mind, one of the best such campers on the market today is from Campluxe Cabovers.

The Campluxe Cabovers is a one-of-a-kind pop-top truck bed camper that will revolutionize your off-grid camping experience. It’s jam-packed with tons of high-end features and amazing amenities designed to make you feel like you are staying in a five-star resort, even when completely off the grid. Moreover, it’s a self-contained unit, allowing you to camp anywhere!

campluxe cabovers team

This four-season camper is constructed from durable fiberglass-reinforced polymer meant to last a lifetime. It measures 132.2” x 69.09” x 61.71” and has more than 8 feet of headroom when the top is extended. Additionally, the camper comes equipped with electrical (120AH Lifeline battery) and gas (propane) systems. 

campluxe cabovers kitchen

Internally, this camper houses a comfortable full-size bed, a cozy dinette with seating for four, and a luxurious kitchen. The kitchen boasts a fridge/freezer combo, a two-burner stove, a deep stainless steel sink, and plenty of storage, giving you the freedom to whip up your favorite meals when camping. To learn more, check out our full Campluxe Cabovers Review.

Finally, it’s compatible with all trucks with mid and full-size beds (5-6 feet). Here are a few examples of popular trucks you can pair it with.

  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Ford F150, Ford Ranger, & Ford Raptor
  • Chevy Colorado & Chevy Silverado
  • GMC Sierra & GMC Canyon
  • Jeep Gladiator
  • Rivian R1T

With all that in mind, what’s stopping you from feeling the freedom of off-grid camping in Southern California? Get in touch with the Campluxe Cabovers team today to inquire about getting your very own cabover camper!

Heads up: Clicking on our affiliate links and exploring our sponsored content helps us at no extra cost to you, and we only recommend gear we’re absolutely crazy about!

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