Just a little over an hour down the coast there are tons of great camp grounds tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains. Camping is a great way to spend time with family and embrace your outdoorsy side. You are bound to have a good time whether it’s heading off for a hike, exploring the wilderness, or sitting around the fire. We are fortunate that Southern California offers so many beautiful campsites.
Some popular sites nearby include Topanga State Park, Point Mugu State Park, Leo Carrillo State Park, Sycamore Canyon Family Camp and Circle X Ranch Campground. Most of these places offer water for cooking, bathrooms and grills or fire pits. Tons of hiking and biking trails are open to the public. There is a large range of difficulty and hikes of all lengths available depending on how rigorous an experience you want. Theses sites are accessible from either the 101 freeway or the Pacific Coast Highway and provide ample space for tents and camp set up. These states parks also have amazing scenic views of the vast mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.
This weekend my dad, sister and I decided to leave Santa Monica for Circle X Ranch with our family friends. Our car was stuffed to the gills with everything we needed and much more. We had to drive up into the mountains for about 20 minutes to get the to site, but when we arrived we found an ideal campsite surrounded by the mountains and trees. Every direction I looked I saw lush green hills and rocky peaks. We set up our tent in a corner and brought the chairs and cooking supplies from our car. After our friends arrived we embarked on a hike to a nearby grotto. The trail lead us through a golden meadow and down into a ravine. To reach the grotto we had to climb through some boulders and down into a cave where there was a small pond and waterfall. Because of the drought the creek was not running and there was much less water in the pond then years before.
When we returned to our campsite we broke out some chips and guacamole to pass the time until dinner. Unlike most people’s busy and bustling lives’ we found ourselves with nothing to do but relax and enjoy each others company. This ability to really connect with the people you are with and not worry about anything at home is another appeal of camping. The dads taught us the card game hearts and we played many rounds over the the duration of our trip. I really enjoyed playing with them and probably wouldn’t have gotten to spend time doing that at home.
As the sun started to go down we began to prepare dinner. Cooking outside is one of the key components to a great camp out. But this would not turn out to be a normal camping meal, we had enough food for a feast, including hamburgers, turkey burgers, sausages, corn and salad. The easiest way to build a fire is to use briquettes which you light and then spread out when they they are hot. The food was delicious, especially because we had worked up an appetite. After dinner it started to get cold, so we bundled up and turned on the lantern. Lastly, we all went into our tents and slept under the stars. I had a great time on this trip and recommend camping to anyone who wishes to get away from the city and enjoy the outdoors.