Unusual California Camping Sites Noted

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May 26, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Von Freeman and his wife, Amy, have taken their Cub Scout troops on scores of camping trips in Southern California.

But none compare to the trip they took last year to Rancho Oso Guest Ranch and Resort in the mountains above Santa Barbara, where they spent the night in covered wagons, according to a news release.

“The experience was off the charts,” Von Freeman said.

The resort, which features more than 100 RV and tent sites, not only offers covered wagons, but hiking trails and guided pony and horseback rides that cross the Santa Ynez River. “You really feel like you’re on a dude ranch,” Freeman said of the resort, whose website is

Dawn McLaughlin of Simi Valley organized a girls’ camp there last summer and was similarly pleased with the experience. “The girls loved the horseback riding and the covered wagons. They thought the covered wagons were the coolest thing.”

“Campgrounds are increasingly offering unique accommodations,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), which operates, a statewide travel planning website.

“While growing numbers of our parks now offer park model cabin rentals, a handful of them of also offer unique accommodations, including tent cabins, safari tents, yurts and even tipis.”

Consider these examples:

  • Coloma Resort in Coloma: This campground resort, located in the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Rush country with nearly a mile of frontage along the south fork of the American River, offers RV and tent sites as well as park model cabins, safari tents and a bunkhouse.
  • El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara: This resort offers safari tents and luxury park models for rent in addition to RV and tent sites.
  • Hiouchi RV Resort in Crescent City: This park has yurt rentals in addition to RV and tent sites.
  • Rail Road Park Resort in Dunsmuir: This park features several historic train cars, including cabooses that have been converted into motel rooms that can be rented out for the night. The resort also has RV and tent camping sites.
  • Santa Cruz Monterey KOA in Watsonville: This campground offers RV and tent sites as well as Airstream trailers, cabins and luxury park models, called “lodges.”
  • Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula: This campground offers RV and tent sites as well as fully furnished tipis and park model cabins, which it markets as “Lodges.”
  • Vineyard RV Park in Vacaville: This park’s newest feature is an elegantly furnished canvass cabin with French doors and a pine wood frame.
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