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Camping on Catalina Island

by Laura Eggers

Planning a Catalina Island camping trip requires some careful planning and packing, as you won't have your car or RV with you.

Since the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy owns most of Catalina, the natural beauty is well preserved, so you are in for a real treat.

There are five campgrounds on the island, not counting the boat-in campsites. Most people arrive by ferry or private boat, so you want to pack enough, but not too much.

A permit is required by all campers, which can be obtained at the Two Harbors Visitor Services or Avalon's Island Plaza. When arriving at the island, you must check in with them before going to your campground.

For Catalina Island camping reservations, call 310-510-8368. You may also be able to rent camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags and pads. All the campgrounds charge $12 per adult per night and $6 per child. They also all have a 10-day maximum stay limit. Unfortunately for campers who love to bring their dogs along, no pets are allowed.

HERMIT GULCH CAMPGROUND

Located 1 1/2 miles from the boat landing on Avalon Canyon Road, you can hike in or take a taxi from Avalon. It is set on a grassy field with trees, inland near Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden.

This campground has 54 tent sites. You'll find flush toilets, showers, picnic tables, BBQs and a small store. Propane, charcoal, firewood and ice is available for sale from the rangers.

TWO HARBORS CAMPGROUND

This campground is located in Two Harbors on a bluff above the beach. You can either hike 1/4 mile uphill from Two Harbors or take the Safari Bus. There are 43 tent sites and 3 group sites. Several of the sites are sheltered, which is a blessing during the hot summer days. There are chemical toilets, cold showers, a snack bar and a coin laundry. Activities include snorkeling and biking.

LITTLE HARBOR CAMPGROUND

A third campground is the Little Harbor Campground. Located 7 miles east of Two Harbors and 16 miles west of Avalon, you can get there by hiking (for the studly), or take the Safari Bus from Two Harbors or Avalon.

This campground has 17 tent sites, of which 8 are group sites. They have chemical toilets, cold showers, picnic tables, a BBQ and a fire ring. You can snorkel and swim at two sandy beaches.

If you prefer, you can arrange in advance with Visitor Services to have your gear transported from Two Harbors for a fee.

BLACKJACK CAMPGROUND

Another of the campgrounds on Catalina Island is the Blackjack Campground. It is located near Mt. Orizaba, which is the highest peak on the island. It is inland, set amongst the trees. Located 9 miles west of Avalon and 11 1/2 miles east of Two Harbors off Old Stage Road, you can access it by a 1 1/2 mile hike to the campground. To get to the trailhead, hike in or take the Safari Bus or Airport Shuttle from Avalon. You can check in at either Avalon's Island Plaza or Two Harbors Guest Services.

This campground has 11 primitive tent sites, along with chemical toilets, BBQ, fire ring and picnic tables.

PARSON'S LANDING CAMPGROUND

This campground is found between Land's End and Arrow Point. Located 7 miles west of Two Harbors, you must hike in or come by kayak to get there.

It has 8 primitive tent sites, chemical toilets, BBQ, fire ring and picnic tables. There is no water so you must bring your own. They may include water and firewood in the fee, so double-check this when you make your reservation. It faces the beach, which is nice, but it is advisable to bring your own shade

BOAT-IN CAMPSITES

A unique way to experience Catalina Island camping is by boat or kayak. There are nine named boat-in camping areas in all, covering a total of 17 campsites. All are situated around the northeast shore of Avalon. They are primitive sites with no water, toilets or moorings. You must pack out your trash and bring your own portable toilets and water. No fires are allowed. A ranger will check you in and then checks on each site daily. Kayak rentals are available in Avalon. For more information, call 310-510-7265.

If you love to camp by the beach, try getting away from the hustle and bustle and crowds of the mainland by camping on Catalina Island.

About the Author

Laura Eggers is a beach lover with a website. http://www.southern-california-beaches-vacation-guide.com offers visitors a plethora of information about the different beach areas to help with planning their beach vacation in sunny Southern California.

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