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The Complete Guide to Crystal Cove State Park Camping

Are you interested in Crystal Cove State Park camping? In this complete guide, we’re going to share everything you need to know about Crystal Cove State Park camping—from the park’s best campgrounds to its history, wildlife, and much more. Get ready to learn more about this amazing park!

What to Expect at the Park

Crystal Cove State Park camping
Crystal Cove State Park

Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, Orange County’s Crystal Cove State Park offers all kinds of scenic views, outdoor activities, and water sports—making it the perfect spot for a memorable California beach camping experience.

If you get the chance to visit the park, be sure to pack cool clothing and plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from the California sun!

Camping

Crystal Cove Beach
Crystal Cove Beach

Crystal Cove State Park camping includes primitive sites and developed sites alike. Keep reading to learn about the different camping options that are available!

Best Camping Spots

Aside from Upper Moro, Lower Moro, Deer Canyon Campground, and the primitive camping spots (also referred to as backcountry sites) that are scattered throughout the park, there is only one developed campground within the park itself—Moro Campground.

Moro Campground gives you the easiest access to water—as well as the Historic District—requiring only a short walk from your campsite to the shoreline. Keep in mind that opting to camp in Upper Moro, Lower Moro, or Deer Canyon or at another backcountry campsite requires a lengthy hike in order to get to the beach!

What Type of Camping Is Offered?

Camping at Crystal Cove State Park

At Moro Campground, there are 57 ADA-accessible sites in total—30 family campsites that are designed for tent campers and 27 that also accommodate RVs and trailers.

One of the benefits of reserving a site at this developed campground is that you’ll enjoy the following amenities:

  • Restroom buildings
  • Flush toilets
  • Hot showers
  • Piped water
  • Water hookup
  • Electrical hookup
  • Picnic tables
  • … and more!

If your idea of the perfect Crystal Cove State Park camping experience is “roughing it”, take advantage of one of many primitive campsites throughout the backcountry. Although they lack the comfy amenities that Moro Campground offers, picnic tables and pit toilets are available.

Reservations and Fees

Because camping at Crystal Cove State Park is so popular and campsites are somewhat limited, it’s recommended that you reserve your site as far as six months in advance. Visit the Reserve California website or call 1-800-444-7275 to book your spot today!

Unfortunately, Crystal Cove State Park camping isn’t free! Moro Campground’s standard sites cost $55, while hookup sites cost $75 per night. Primitive sites in Upper Moro, Lower Moro, and Deer Canyon cost $25.

Those who plan to keep their vehicles on site will also need to account for parking fees. There are four parking lots in total—two oceanside lots and two inland lots—and most of the park’s accessible parking spaces are available for $15 per day.

Things to Do at the Park

Crystal Cove Beach
Crystal Cove Beach

Because Crystal Cove is positioned on the water, there are plenty of land and beach-focused activities alike—as well as other exciting attractions:

Beaches

One of the highlights of camping at Crystal Cove State Park is undoubtedly its 3.2 total miles of beach that can be used for swimming, surfing, fishing, and more. There are four main beach access points in the park—Moro Beach, Reef Point, Historic District, and Pelican Point.

If you plan to go swimming, Moro Beach and Historic District are your best beach options. Reef Point and Pelican Point, although a little rockier, are great locations for tide pooling!

Hiking

Tide pools in Crystal Cove State Park
Tide pools in Crystal Cove State Park

In total, there are 18 miles of hiking trails at Crystal Cove State Park. The park’s four recommended paved trails range from easy to strenuous in terms of difficulty.

For a short and easy one-hour hike, start out at Ranger Station, head downhill, and turn left once you spot the dirt trail. Cross the long bridge into Moro Canyon and turn around once you reach the junction with Poles and West Cut Across.

Want a more challenging, two-hour hike? From Ranger Station, take the dirt trail and cross into Moro Canyon. Take a right onto the East Cut Across trail, where you’ll ascend Moro Ridge. Take a right at the next fork and a final right when you meet B.F.I. This short track will take you right back to the parking lot by Ranger Station!

Historic District

One of the more developed areas of the park is the Historic District, a 12-acre area that features 47 beach homes that are available to rent. The area is also home to multiple shops and restaurants, including the fan-favorite Beachcomber Café.

Explore each landmark and learn more about the area by printing off a copy of the Historic District Walking Tour and bringing it with you to the park!

Wildlife

Elephant Seals, Crystal Cove State Park
Elephant Seals, Crystal Cove State Park

Stay at Crystal Cove State Park for more than a few hours, and you’re bound to encounter some of the area’s native wildlife.

Its pristine beaches are home to various marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, and sea otters. What’s more, there are over 70 species of birds within the park’s borders—ranging from beach birds like California Gulls and Caspian Terns to inland birds such as Western Bluebirds and Northern Mockingbirds.

While hiking, keep an eye out for the rattlesnakes that can be found in the backcountry wilderness, bluffs, and even the beaches. If you happen to spot a rattlesnake, give it plenty of room to maneuver. It won’t bite unless it feels threatened!

Geography/Vegetation

Ochre starfish, Crystal Cove State Park
Ochre starfish, Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is located in Orange County, California, between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. While the park’s southernmost border provides access to the Pacific Ocean and impressive bluffs, it’s worth noting that most of the park lies further inland.

Particularly as you venture throughout the backcountry, you’ll likely notice all types of rock formations and vegetation—including oak trees, sycamore trees, the endangered coastal sage scrub plant, and over 60 species of flowering plants.

Reviews

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is easily one of California’s most beloved camping spots. On Google, it holds a very impressive 4.8-star rating across more than 5,000 reviews!

Of course, visitors most often praise the park for its beautiful beach spots and breathtaking views, but they are also very fond of the park’s trail system.

One of the only drawbacks is limited parking. Reserve your campsite and arrive as early as possible so that this doesn’t become an issue for you!

Plan Your Crystal Cove State Park Camping Trip Today!

Eager to enjoy all that camping at Crystal Cove State Park has to offer? Whether you’re visiting the sunny state of California or whether you’re a lifelong SoCal native, there’s no bad time to plan out your next Crystal Cove State Park camping trip!

Excited to plan more California adventures? Check out some of our other California camping recommendations!

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