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California Camping: Pitch Your Tent and Ditch the Smog in Southern California

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Southern California has a snarly reputation for its traffic, its smog and its urban sprawl. But you might be surprised to discover that you don’t actually have to go that far from congested hot spots like Los Angeles to find some respite. And the best way to really forge that connection with area’s natural side? A night or two of California camping. That’s right. Pitch a tent. Not by the freeway obviously, nor down on the beach (which will get you in trouble with the authorities), but up in those alluring mountains that frame crowded streets and shopping malls with an aloof beauty.

If you don’t mind a little drive, national parks are an obvious choice. Joshua Tree, Sequoia and even Death Valley have campgrounds on offer, providing visitors with the opportunity to enjoy some of our nation’s federal lands and a night out under the stars for an affordable fee. Also worth considering is strangely intriguing Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest state park (there’s even Wi-Fi around the Ranger’s office if you just can’t leave the civilized world behind), which can be perfectly pleasant, temperature wise, during fall, winter and spring.

But even without venturing so far from the big city there are a number of spots to try a bit of California camping like Angeles National Forest. Taking in the mountains which border Los Angeles bedroom communities such as Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank, this stretch of undeveloped turf is both rugged and surprisingly removed from urban mayhem.

Also within easy reach? San Bernardino National Forest. Home to weekend getaway hot spots like Big Bear and Idyllwild, this national forest boasts nearly 20 different campgrounds. Many of these fill up fast though, so consider making reservations in advance if you’d like to pitch a tent in these parts.

In addition to this selection of federal and state run campgrounds, there is, of course, a good long list of private campgrounds to suit your needs or particulars on location. You just consider what’s at stake: your tent, to wit.

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