Location: Oceanside, CA
Sites: No designated parking. All first come, first serve open parking
Nightly Fee: Fees are annually $60 passes obtained from Game Warden on base… ($40 for Seniors)
Amenities: None at location. Dump station at rest area 1 mile south of Las Pulgas off ramp
Topography: Beach with nearby brush
Miles One-Way: 81
Directions: I–215 to southbound I-15 to westbound CA-76 to northbound I-5 to Las Pulgas exit. East to USMC guard/gate then straight ahead to staging area
Red Beach is a pretty amazing change of venue for many So Cal residents providing night after night of breathtaking oceanic sunsets. If you’re interested in an Oceanside RV camping beach, your going to love this because it is truly one of the best RV camping Southern California beaches.
Even one’s water must be hauled in. Water may still occasionally be available at the “Ranch House” an area that was used in the past for staging before the 4:15 pm greenlight to head on out to the beach area.
The rules are pretty simple… haul everything out that you haul in! This means that you must be totally self-contained. Campfires must be in containers or pits above the sand and the coals must be taken back out with you when you break camp.
There is no tent camping, however tents have been allowed when accompanied by a self contained rv unit. All of these rules should be discussed at the Game Warden’s office when you apply for your Annual Pass.
Fishing is allowed from the shore… you’re allowed to walk out into the surf around waist deep to cast your line. It is truly amazing the assortment of fish that’ll come out of that water… from shark to ray and back to perch.
A few things to remember is that being on a military base their rules pertaining to camping on their beach are strictly enforced. The game wardens are kind and sometimes easy going but always expect you to obey them and consistently.
Another thing to remember is that this is an active facility and many times throughout the year will not be available for camping. Lately several different branches of the military seem to be using this beach during the weekends and this year it has been pretty slim pickin’s. The normal hours that the beach is available to the public is Fridays 4:30 pm to Sundays 9:30pm. Thursdays campers can call a hotline for updated info for that specific weekend’s availability.
Another item worthy of mentioning is to be sure to keep all pets on leashes. This is strictly enforced and for good reason. This past weekend we actually came across a couple of rattlesnakes for the first time down there. Kaylee has been trained for rattlesnake avoidance but little dog wouldn’t have a clue what to do with one and would get bitten for sure. In fact Kaylee actually jumped away from some bushes along the road a few times and gave wide berth just like she was trained to do.
The surrounding areas are Oceanside to the south and San Onofre to the north. Access to the beach area is a paved road followed by some dirt roads that are heavily used by military equipment. Ruts and pot holes can frequently be seen and careful attention must be used in route to the beach areas.
Parking at the beach areas is first come, first serve and as close to the water as you can get without getting stuck. It’s always a good idea to use a spotter as you back or pull your rig in. You might also consider bringing some wood to put under your tires in case ya’ get a little bogged down. All in all if you really enjoy camping Southern California beaches, you’ll find this pretty easy in and out.
A little more info can be found here and you are always welcome to leave me a comment below if you’d like the specifics on Red Beach.
By R.C. Stude