Camping at Leo Carillo

If you’re ever in Palm Springs, be sure to stop by Leo Carillo State Park. I was introduced to this summer gem by a couple good friends of mine. Leo Carillo gives beginners a chance to enjoy the camping experience without being too far in the wilderness. I normally like to venture out on a good adventure, however I found this to be an ideal location for a small family getaway.

Located just minutes across Pacific Coast Highway is where you’ll find an inviting and clean beach. The mild climate makes this beach the ultimate surf zone and the plus is that it’s dog friendly.

Upon arrival, the weather was warm. Each campsite is allowed eight occupants that includes two to three parking spots. At each campsite, there is a picnic table, fire pit and water faucet.

As I unpacked and cooled down for lunch that consisted of grilled burgers and hot dogs stuffed with all sorts of only what you can imagine toppings, I went for a walk. Leo Carillo is a beautiful place to take in the scenery. Stocking up on food is a good idea so you can stay at the campsite and enjoy the fresh air.

But there is much more in this campground than I’d imagine. First, there are two choices of where to camp. One option is to choose a place in the outer “ring,” that encloses the camp site. The second option is to camp in the middle of the camp site. Choose this option if you’re willing to be surrounded by campers and don’t mind being disturbed. There is the chance that people may cross through your campsite as a shortcut. Or choose to camp in the outer of the campground. For some, this is an ideal option if you want to get away.  

If you do get away from the campground, there is a general store conveniently located just a few steps away right in between the beach and the campground. Here there is a selection of food, wood and first aid that is fairly priced.

What makes these campsites maintain privacy are the oak trees that provide a nice shade. There is some seclusion, despite the popularity of this area. Not only is it scenic, but this campground offers a lot of amenities. There are showers that accept tokens in exchange for dollar bills. Unless you’d have no problem showering in cooler temperatures, the tokens offer in exchange a warm shower. Be that as it may, a dollar is more than enough time needed. And you can’t go wrong with a campsite that offers flushing toilets and plenty of toiletries. The large sink outdoors gives the option to wash dishes or anything of the like. The possibilities are really endless.

It didn’t take long until I ventured to the beach. The first beach under the pass is said to be famous for many movies such as Inception and Grease. The beach just North of it is dog friendly, great for your dog to dig holes and for animal lovers all around. To get to the waves, you pass the campground store and walk under a little tunnel to reach the warm sandy beach. There is some rough terrain and areas where you’d have to climb a rock, but there’s nothing a little legwork and effort can’t do.

Leo Carillo is heavily populated during the summer, so be prepared to book reservations six months in advance. This campground gives everybody a chance to make small talk with their neighbors and allowed me to embrace this camp community.

On the way back to the campground, the sound of crickets among other animals echo throughout the night. There is laughter and small talk from time to time, but overall it is a quiet location.

One of the greatest parts about the night time at Leo Carillo is the view. At night, the skies are surrounded by well-lit stars. I’d have to say that my first experience here has been one where I’d return as this is a great year round family trip. It’s a camping experience where you’ll be a little but not too far away from the city. Just be prepared for quiet hours around 10 p.m., when generally everyone has their lights off. And while I make my way into my tent, all I could hear is the sounds of small talk dissipating into the night. The legend of Leo Carillo as of my experience lives on.