Just moments from Ventura and Santa Barbara, Carpinteria State Beach is a California treasure. The park’s name harkens back to the area’s canoe-building history. Today its mile of beach is mostly visited by those wishing to swim, fish, explore the tidepools, or just relax with a book.
Camping at Carpinteria State Beach
Carpinteria State Beach is open year-round. It is one of the most sought-after camping areas on the west coast (for obvious reasons) and gets books quickly. The park is comprised of four campgrounds in close proximity. These include Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Miguel, and Santa Rosa. Group sites can be found in the former 2 campgrounds. The beach and facilities are all within walking distance.
Our most recent count showed 211 campsites at Carpinteria. (These numbers vary over time.) There’s a bit of variation between campsites. Some offer a bit of room, while others are a bit closer together. Most sites contain a fire ring and picnic table. About half of the campground’s sites offer hookups. There’s also a Hike & Bike site.
Carpinteria is well equipped with a visitor center, fire center, restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic areas, a ranger station, and a sani-dump. Potable water and firewood can be found on-site as well as an on-site store. That said, the close proximity to city amenities means goods are close at hand should you run out. A campground host can also offer assistance if required.
Carpinteria offers several accessibility features. Day visitors will appreciate the accessible parking, shaded picnic areas, and restrooms. Those looking to stay overnight will find 9 accessible campsites, an accessible campfire center, and mostly accessible restroom/shower buildings. A boardwalk offers beach access and a beach wheelchair is available. Service dogs are welcome in all areas.
Location, geography, and history
Established in 1932, Carpinteria State Beach is located on the California coast, northwest of Los Angeles. The park is found within the city of Carpinteria—a small coastal community. Point Mugu State Park, Topanga State Park, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area are nearby.
Carpinteria Beach is protected by the state park system. The park contains approximately 4,500 feet of beachfront. The beach’s gentle slope makes it popular with families. The region is known for its dune areas, terraced buffs, and tar pits. These tar pits have produced fossils of the Ground Sloth, American Mastodon, and Saber-toothed Cat.
This tar was once used by the skilled craftspeople of the Chumash Tribe to waterproof seagoing canoes. Spanish explorers in the late 1700s witnessed this activity at the village of Mishopshnow (now Carpinteria Creek). They nicknamed the area La Carpinteria (the Carpenter Shop) and it has since been shortened to Carpinteria.
Located at the site of an early Chumash Indian village, Carpinteria State Beach has woven the Native American history into the fabric of the state beach with interpretive programs, information signs, the Tomol Interpretive Play Area, and the visitor center exhibits. The tar found along the beach was used by the Chumash to seal their canoes. The villagers living at the mouth of Carpinteria Creek were admired for their skill at building canoes.
Features, wildlife, and vegetation
Carpinteria State Beach covers an area of 25 hectares and connects to Carpinteria City Beach. The gently-sloped beach is certainly the park’s calling card. Slightly east of the park, you can find Tar Pits Park. Once an asphalt mine, the park’s vegetation has been restored. The nearby Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve offers trails with remarkable ocean views.
Between December and May, you can spot sea lions, seals, and whales at Carpinteria State Beach. Part of the Carpinteria Harbor Seal Preserve and rookery is located within the park.
Starfish, sea urchins, periwinkles, snails, crabs, chitons, octopi, and anemones can all be found in the park’s tidepools.
Shorebirds including gulls and pelicans area along the beach, while Carpinteria Creek is home to ducks, herons, and marsh wrens. (The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve is nearby.) You might also spot raptors, ducks, hummingbirds, owls, and other great birds in the coastal wetland. In 2021, Plovers nested on Carpinteria State Beach for the first time in decades.
Carpinteria Creek Mouth at the mouth of the creek was restored in 2012. This project increased the diversity of native plants and improved the wetland habitat. As a result, you can find Coast Golden Bush, Salt Grass, Arroyo Willows, and hundreds of other native plants within the area
Activities at Carpinteria State Beach
As a state beach, many visitors to Carpinteria enjoy sunbathing and exploring the coastline. Swimming, surfing, and paddle boarding are also nice ways to explore this coastal area. Anglers catch cabezon, corbina, and barred perch from the (a California State fishing license is required).
Bring your binoculars and head to the Harbor Seal Preserve. You can access it along the Coastal Vista Trail. The beach is closed during birthing season, but observation points allow you to witness these creatures enjoying their environment. Also nearby is Jelly Bowl Beach where you can see birds running along the seashore.
Kids can play in the Tomol Interpretive Play Area (named after Indigenous plank-built boats) and learn about the park’s rich history. The play area contains Chumash huts, a Rainbow Bridge, and animal statues.
Risks, cautions, and notes
Oceans can be unpredictable and conditions can change quickly. Although lifeguards patrol the area, you must take care. Rip currents, cold water, and sudden drop-offs can be hazardous.
Ensure that your RV fits within the stated limits of the campsite you book. Park staff are known to measure RVs to check that you don’t exceed these limits.
Harbor seals are protected. Do not approach these animals, make loud noises, or disturb them,
There are naturally occurring tar pits at Carpinteria. These were historically relied on for waterproofing canoes, and for asphalt creation. Today, this tar can seep out of rocks, or be found on the beach, and create quite a mess. Consider packing some coconut oil or olive oil and a rag to remove any tar that gets on your feet.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach (unless they are service animals). That said, they are welcome at the picnic area and within the park, so long as they are leashed.
Information about Carpinteria State Beach
205 Palm Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013, United States
Carpinteria State Beach is West of Los Angeles. To get to Carpinteria State Beach take US Highway 101 North until Carpinteria, when you arrive take exit 86. Turn left on to Casitas Pass Road, then right to Carpinteria Avenue. Take the next left on to Palm Avenue until you reach the park.
33 ft (10 m)
62 acres (25 ha)
Up to 6 months in advance of arrival date
Number of sites
Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a six-foot leash. Dogs are not allowed on the beach. Service dogs are welcome in all areas.
In designated areas only
Max. site occupants
Vehicles per site
3 in each site; others can be parked in the extra-vehicle parking area
Maximum vehicle length
Fire ring, picnic table, some sites with hook-ups
Number of accessible sites
105, 115, 211, 231, 242, 339, 346, 439, 440
358 – 380, 447 – 456
Questions & Answers
Carpinteria State Beach FAQs
How much does it cost to park at Carpinteria State Beach?
Standard vehicles can be parked at Carpinteria for $15. Seniors pay only $14, and disabled day use parking is $7.50 (a California State Park Disabled Discount Pass is required to receive this price). These prices go up on summer weekends to $20, $19, and $10 respectively.
Oversize vehicles can be parked for $40 a day. Seniors pay $29 and Disabled Day Use sites are $22.50 (discount pass required). On summer weekends these prices increase to $40, $39, and $30 respectively.
Buses with 10 – 24 passengers can park for $50. Buses with over 25 passengers pay $100.
Can you swim at Carpinteria State Beach?
Heck yeah, you can swim at Carpinteria! In fact, it’s perfect for swimming. The beach has a gentle slope making it one of the safest beaches to swim at. That said, ocean swimming always comes with risks. So, remain mindful of your setting and changing conditions. Water temperatures at Carpinteria State Beach range from 63.9°F in September to 54.9° in April.
How do I reserve at Carpinteria State Beach?
Carpinteria State Beach is open for reservations year-round. You can book online at Reserve California, or by phone: 1-800-444-7275. If the park is sold out, you can be alerted to newly cancelled campsites by creating an availability scan for Carpinteria State Beach.
Is Carpinteria State Beach first-come, first-serve?
All campsites at Carpinteria can be reserved online at Reserve California. That said, if a site is unreserved it can be booked at the campground. Additionally, if someone fails to claim their reserved campsite, it will be made available to those on site.
Does Carpinteria State Beach have RV hookups?
Carpinteria State Beach does offer power, sewage, and water hookups at some RV sites. Approximately half of the campsites at Carpinteria have some form of hookups. If you require hookups, you can search only for sites with hookups when you’re looking for campsites on Reserve California.
Are dogs allowed at Carpinteria State Beach?
Dogs are not permitted on the beach at Carpinteria unless they are service animals. You can bring your leashed dog to your campsite or the picnic area, though.
ARE Carpinteria State Beach campsites SOLD OUT?
We can help! Many campsite reservations are cancelled daily. Just tell us when you’d like to camp at Carpinteria State Beach, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll text you when a suitable spot opens up!Scan for cancellations
Contact Carpinteria State Beach
- California State Parks
- Booking site: https://reservecalifornia.com/Web
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Carp is a great drop off place if you’re coming down the coast or going up the coast. Right next to town and can replenish everything you need to continue on the road or enjoy the whole weekend there.
Recent Renos almost pay off
Carpinteria is where you go when you spend the day in the ocean, the night by the campfire while listening to Sublime on repeat. The RV hook up areas are t i g h t, like…hear your snoring neighbor, or when they are busy going #2.
The Hike/Bike spot is the best. The campground is a comfortable walk from the Amtrak, on a transit line, and there’s a shuttle to Santa Barbara. There’s a whole set of restaurants and bars up the street, so don’t pack food.
The bathrooms are well maintained, have hot water AND SOAP!!! (IYKYK)
Beach in the front, party in the back
Carpinteria is a high energy campground right on the beach. Literally right on the beach. It’s been somewhat modernized and has lots to offer all ages and interests.
It’s right on a beautiful sand beach
Positive high energy vibe
Lots of amenities nearby
It can be loud, especially at night
Theft from vehicles and campsites is problematic (park near the well lit and security cameras at the check-in kiosk to mitigate this)
Ants that get into everything (bring your container of Comet cleaning powder)
Date of stay: July 2022
UNABLE TO RESERVE A CAMPSITE?
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Tell us when, where, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll notify you (via SMS) when a suitable spot opens up at that campground—so you can nab that sold-out campsite reservation!