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Leo Carrillo State Park Camping Guide

Leo Carrillo State Park is one of California’s best camping spots. Located on the Malibu coast, the park provides plenty of recreational activities for beachgoers, hikers, and campers of all types. Big sycamore trees shade the camping area, so you can stay cool on those hot summer days.

Read on to learn all about Leo Carrillo State Park camping and more!

leo carrillo state park camping

What to Expect at Leo Carrillo State Park

Also sometimes referred to as just Carrillo State Park, Leo Carrillo State Park is a coastal park with 1.5 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing, and beach combing. An abundance of trails provides access to miles of back-country hiking.

The park is 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1). It’s also seven miles northwest of Malibu’s popular Zuma Beach.

You will find many camp spots at Leo Carrillo State Park, perfect for all campers. Camping at Leo Carrillo State Park is a real treat!

Before planning a Leo Carrillo State Park camping trip, check the park’s official website for updates about any closures to the campground, trails, or beaches due to weather or construction.

Leo Carrillo State Park Camping

Canyon Campground is within walking distance of the beach. It is well-shaded by oak trees to provide more privacy than most beach-side campgrounds, making Leo Carrillo State Park a favorite among campers.

Dogs are allowed at campsites, but they are not allowed on hiking trails.

If you’re tent camping or your RV does not have a shower, plan to bring $1 bills for the token-operated showers. You may also choose to pack a portable shower.

Types of Leo Carrillo State Park Camping Spots Available

Leo Carrillo State Park’s Canyon Campground offers 130 campsites. All your favorite camping spot types are represented: including RV Camping, Tent Camping, and Hike-and-Bike Camping.

Best Camping Spots

With so many camping spots, you’re probably wondering what the best spots for Leo Carrillo State Park camping are. Campsites can be reserved online up to six months in advance. Same-day reservations are allowed, pending availability.

Reserve your favorite campsite(s) as soon as possible because Leo Carrillo State Park camping is popular!

Leo Carrillo State Park Camp

Accessible Camping Spots

Everyone can enjoy camping at Leo Carrillo State Park because it offers seven accessible campsites, making Canyon Campground a truly inclusive campground. Accessible Leo Carrillo State Park camping includes sites #2, #4, #33, #47, #57, #79, and #119.

Electrical Hookups

There are 46 campsites at Leo Carrillo State Park with electrical hookups. These sites include #3, #5-12, #16, #20, #23, #25, #27, #104-115, 117-121, 123-133, 135-137, and 139.

Sites Near Visitors Center

The Visitors Center is near the Entrance Station. If you want to stay near the Visitors Center, stay at the hike-and-bike camp spot, or sites #1 and #2 are just across from it.

Sites Near Store

A campground store is located in the middle of the store. If you want to camp near the store, select spots #15, #18, or #19. The camp host is also right across from the store.

Sites Along the Stream

You won’t be far from the beach, regardless of your chosen site. Right across from the Visitors Center is an access road to South Beach.

If you enjoy camping along the water, reserve sites #70-102. These campsites are right along the stream that passes through the campground.

Popular Campsites

According to reviews, the most popular campsites are #21, #37, #38, #40, #41, #44, #54, #55, #56, #57 (accessible site), #59, #125, #131, and #139. Be sure to pick up Leo Carrillo State Park camping spots when available!

Group Camping

A group camping area is available at the north end of the campground. These camp spots are tent-only and can host between 9 and 50 campers. The campsite can accommodate up to 12 vehicles, and additional vehicles can park in the day-use area for a fee.

The Leo Carrillo State Park camping site for groups is a little more than a mile from the beach.

Activities at the Park

Leo Carrillo State Park is great for bonding with family and friends over nature and wildlife while having a picnic or relaxing on the beach.

Water sports like fishing, surfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling are popular among Lake Carrillo State Park campers and visitors.

The park is a popular place to experience the game of geocaching–an outdoor recreational activity where you use a GPS or phone to hide and seek objects. Beachcombing, in general, is a fun activity beachgoers enjoy at the state park.

Leo Carrillo State Park  camping

Nature and wildlife are one of the biggest attractions to Leo Carrillo State Park campers and visitors. The Visitor Center offers Environmental Learning and Interpretive Exhibits for kids and adults looking to learn more about the park’s environment.

The park welcomes school and youth groups for learning opportunities. Learn more about this educational field trip opportunity.

Leo Carrillo State Park also offers a Junior Lifeguard Program and Surf Camp for youth ages 9 to 15.

History of Leo Carrillo State Park

Archaeologists believe the Chumash people lived in the area as long as 6000 BCE. The Chumash were superb artisans and excelled at basketry and rock art. This group had nearly disappeared by 1920.

The 2,513-acre park was established in 1953. In 2018, the park experienced extreme damage due to the year’s wildfires, which burned through most of the park. The Leo Carillo state camping grounds reopened after seven months of debris removal and cleanup.

In spring 2023, the park endured flood damage, causing the campground and beaches to close.

Facts about Leo Carrillo State Park

The park was named after Leo Carrillo (1880-1961), an actor, preservationist, and conservationist who served on the California Beach and Parks Commission for eighteen years. Leo’s fame came from his portrayal of Pancho in Cisco Kid, an early 1950’s TV series.

Leo was instrumental in the state’s acquisition of the Hearst Property at San Simeon.

Wrapping up Leo Carrillo State Park Camping Guide

Leo Carrillo State Park Camping

Leo Carrillo State Park has survived adversity and is still a fun place to camp, explore, and learn about nature. Experience Leo Carrillo State Park camping on your next adventure.

If you’re interested in learning more about camping in California, check out 40 of the Best Places To Go Camping in California.