Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for California Camping (Southern)

Sponsored By:

La Pacifica RV Resort

Southern California conjures up images of sand, surf and sunshine, and rightly so. The weather is better here year-round than just about anyplace else on the map. Travelers from all over the world make SoCal their number-one destination, and with all the activities and entertainment at their fingertips, it’s easy to see why. Amusement parks and film studios are available to tour, and you can go from the warm beach to the cool mountains in about an hour. Where else can you experience such opposite ends of the spectrum but in Southern California?

On this one tank trip, start by making your way to San Diego via the I-5, and prepare to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of different things to do. Their public transportation system works like a well-oiled machine, so feel free to use it with confidence to see as much of San Diego as possible. You’ve got the Old Town district, which has been designated a historical landmark, complete with adobe buildings left over from the days of Alta California. This area has several excellent restaurants featuring authentic Mexican and Argentine cuisine. For the spookbusters among you, Old Town is the site of the Whaley House, allegedly one of the most haunted houses in America. Old Town’s cemetery is worth a visit – especially at night – and there are frequent reports of a “Woman in Black” setting roses on a headstone, but when you look at her from anything but the corner of your eye, no one’s there. The Downtown District is filled with enough restaurants, pubs and shopping to please even those with the pickiest of tastes. Add to this the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the beauty of Balboa Park with its museums and galleries, and you have enough to keep you enthralled with California camping for several days.

When you’re able to tear yourself away from the city, head east on the I-8 for 26 miles, then hop on the northbound Highway 79 and take it for 20 incredibly scenic miles into the history-rich town of Julian. The city was founded just after the Civil War, and is situated in the middle of some of the most beautiful wooded terrain to be found anywhere. Many a traveler heads this way, drawn by the stories of the legendary apple pie, made from the famous Julian apples. You won’t have trouble finding any of these pastries, as there’s more than the usual number of pie shops in town, due to the widespread renown for this American staple.

This area also saw a lot of travel in the days of the Old West, as the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach Route used to run through here. Keep your eyes peeled for the roadside signs that mark the route. You might also want to check out Anza Borrego Park, where you can pull over and make camp for a day or so. This massive 600,000 acre California camping facility has more than 500 separate roads through various types of terrain, ranging from rocky to sandy, so be sure you consult an area map before proceeding. It’s well worth the trip, and offers many demonstrations of gorgeous landscapes, as well as being an incredibly cool place to sit back and relax or completely go wild and crazy for a few days.

Shift your bearing to a southward heading but stay on Highway 79 for 23 miles, then merge with the westbound I-8 and take it 9 miles into Alpine, the last stop on your one tank trip. Here you can tempt fate and press your luck at the Viegas Casino, with every game of chance you’d find in Las Vegas. Right across the street, you can spend your winnings at the sprawling outdoor outlet mall, decorated in a Southwestern style with images of Kokopeli, the Native American trickster hidden (and sometimes right out in the open) from view. In winter, the mall hosts a lavish outdoor production complete with ice, fairies, and snow effects. The rest of the year, the show centers more around the element of fire, and it’s possible that the afore mentioned Kokopeli – or a reasonable facsimile thereof – might put in an appearance!

Other Area Sponsors in California:
Campland on the Bay
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort
Chula Vista RV Resort & Marina
Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve
Mission Bay RV Resort

Woodall's Recommended California RV Campgrounds