Glamping in Crystal Cove


Ever since I started my search for a vintage fiberglass camper, I imagined taking it to our nearby state park in Crystal Cove and spending the night perched on the bluffs between Laguna and Newport beaches, watching the stars and listening to the crashing waves. After two years of researching, buying and renovating our little glamper, we made it! Here’s the view out of our plexiglass back window, which frames one of our famous winter sunsets and Catalina Island in the distance.



As you can see, the “glamour” in glamping is a relative concept. To us, sleeping on a thick pad off the ground in a shelter we can stand up in (my husband has to crouch a little, but he doesn’t complain) is sheer luxury. As you can tell from our neighbors above in the full hook-up sites, everyone has their own definition of comfort. (Our 13′ Perris Pacer looks almost beefy from this angle, but compared to those ginormous, 35′ and up RVs, it’s really pretty dinky.)




Here’s our little EGG on wheels. We aren’t done fixing it up, but have improved the interior to the point that we enjoy hanging out inside. Dogs are allowed here, but only on a leash. You cannot take them to the beach or on the hiking trails. Could you leave her at home?




 The point of glamping, however, is that you stay at places where the inside digs are simple and spare enough that you still prefer to spend most of your time outside, in nature.

Like here, at the Moro Campground at Crystal Cove State Park. This is the view to the north…

and the view inland, toward the hills and miles of hiking trails in the local hills.

We were in a spot in the middle of the campground, and overlooked some of the humble tent campers.


This guy kept zipping by on his motorized skateboard (controls in his hand). There’s nothing remote about this campground, but in general, you are just gleeful to be among those who get to stay there. Make sure to book well in advance.

Only a couple of years ago, this spot was filled with a mobile home park, and it was quite the battle to get the tenants to move out so the park could open the space to the public. Just to the north, you can see what happened to the oceanfront property that was not owned by the state–those are multi-million-dollar tract homes, better known as Newport Coast. 



The campsites have been planted with native plants. This Gooseberry bush was in the site next to us.



And we also had fragrant White Sage and native daisies.



 and Lemonade Berry (a sumac) and other blooming, native shrubs.


You walk under Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) through a tunnel to reach the beach, which is about several miles long and has amazing tide pools, shore birds and a little community of historic bungalows, which you can read about HERE.



It’s not known as a surfing beach, but with the right swell, you can catch some surfers at the point or other breaks. The state was renting stand-up paddle boards (SUP) and offering lessons on the beach here as well.

The one downside of this campground is that open fires are not allowed. What? Camping without marshmallows? But that doesn’t mean you can’t cook up classic camping grub on your propane stove. We did notice a couple campers were burning small wood fires on above ground fire bowls.


The place isn’t cheap, either, for a campground. It costs $50 a night for no services, and $75 for the hook-up folks.

But with this view, it’s worth every penny!

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