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Here's what I want to do, I want to camp (pitch a tent and go hiking) but I don't want to stay too far away from Los Angeles, and I want to camp in a place with a toilet and maybe a shower, I might want the shower over the toilet ;) (for almost free is arround 15~20 Dollars a night)

Also, because this is my first time camping in California, I'd like to know if I need permits to camp or not, if so, how much they cost, and where I can and cannot camp

Any advice is appreciated

  • 2
    What do you consider "almost" free? ($!0.00 - $15.00?) How far are you willing to go away from Los Angeles? I live near Vancouver, BC and an hour away from the city, I can use a campsite for $10.00 (Can) and get all the firewood, etc. included. – Ken Graham Nov 7 '16 at 13:21
  • You don't need a permit for car camping, but parking in many areas requires a National Forest Adventure Pass. You are not going to get car camping with a toilet and shower for free. If you want free, you need to go backpacking, not car camping. – Ben Crowell Nov 7 '16 at 13:48
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Your requirements are conflicting. Think about it. It costs money to build showers and toilets and to provide running water. It's quite unlikely that someone or some organization is going to build a campground with the amenities you want, then let everyone camp there for free, especially close to a major city where the demand will be high.

Basically, you can probably camp for free, or you can camp with amenities, but not both.

In the western US, the rules for camping in National Forests are often quite relaxed. Many Forests allow "dispersed" camping, which is free. That means you pull off to the side of a dirt road, and pitch your tent. There are no toilets or anything else, but it's free. This tends to be in places that don't get overrun as a result, so "not too far" from Los Angeles is less likely. Still, such camping is allowed in other places close to major cities, like in the Tonto NF less than one hour drive from downtown Phoenix. Find the National Forests in the area, and ask them specifically about camping restrictions.

National Forests are also good places to camp in special-built campgrounds for relatively low cost compared to other designated-site campgrounds. State parks tend to cost more. However, this is just a rough guide. The general rules are just that, and they can be quite different near cities.

  • While free with amenities might be rare, it is not impossible. the Partnership shelter on the Appalachian Trail is free and "has shower and laundry sink; privy nearby". Unfortunately for the OP, the Appalachian Trail doesn't qualify as near LA. – StrongBad Nov 7 '16 at 13:42
  • Im sorry for my question lacking numbers, by almost free I meant around 15 bucks, I edited my question – Kyle Nov 7 '16 at 22:28
  • @Mr.D: Many public campgrounds cost in that range. Expensive ones are over $20. I don't know of any public campgrounds over $30, but there may be some, although rare. – Olin Lathrop Nov 7 '16 at 23:12
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You don't need a permit for car camping, but parking in many areas in So Cal requires a National Forest Adventure Pass.

You are not going to get car camping with a toilet and shower for free. If you want free, you need to go backpacking, not car camping. An example of a typical cost for car camping would be $15 at Manker Flat, which has portapotties nearby but no showers.

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