The 9 Absolute Best Camping Near Bakersfield

Written by Rebecca Mathews
Updated: September 10, 2023
© Tim Malek/
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Bakersfield in California features many well-equipped, top-of-the-range family RV sites through to bare minimum camping pitches for adventurers seeking solitude and wilderness. Let’s discover the top nine absolute best camping near Bakersfield and what they offer campers.

1. Songdog Ranch, Cuyama Badlands

Fans of the great outdoors will love the Cuyama Badlands camping site at 2,000 feet of elevation. It’s a privately owned site, and you need to book, but it’s worth the effort because this spot is about as far removed from civilization as it gets.  

Choose a preconfigured trailer or a camp on the mesa in a lodge house or tent. RVs are welcome on some of the sites, but ask in advance. History enthusiasts enjoy the cave paintings in the Caliente Mountains designed by Chumash Indians who lived here years ago.

The landscape is barren, dotted with wildflowers in spring, and offers amazing desert sunsets with coyote howls. There’s running water, a bathroom that’s a few minutes walk from the campsites, and a pergola with a picnic table. Don’t expect luxury here but a break from modern living.  

Activities include biking, horse-riding, off-roading, and climbing if you bring your own equipment, but wildlife watching is free. Bitter Creek National Wildlife Park, home to condors, is close by.

Camping picnic green tent campground in outdoor hiking forest. Camper while campsite in nature background at summer trip camp. Adventure Travel Vacation concept
Cuyama Badlands is as far removed from civilization as it gets.

©Mut Hardman/

2. Rivernook Campground, Kern River

Rivernook Campground is located on the Kern River, an hour northeast of Bakersfield.

It offers pull-through RV sites, wifi, utility hookups, and showering facilities with hot water from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rivernook is a vast 60-acre site. There are 455 campsites, each with a fire ring for late-night marshmallow feasts. The local town’s restaurants and museum are within walking distance.

One of the best bits about this campsite near Bakersfield is the creek. It’s ideal for water lovers and kids to splash around and cool off when the temperatures get high.

Longest Rivers in California - Kern River
Kern River in California offers some of the best camping near Bakersfield.


3. Spirit Walk Private Retreat

Spirit Walk Private Retreat is a child-free campsite with a communal feel. It has a firepit, bathroom, kitchen, and dining area, all shared by campers. Hot water is plentiful, and a composting toilet keeps the area eco-friendly.

A seasonal creek runs through the site, plus Lake Isabella and Kern River are a 5-minute walk away. Even though historic Kernville’s restaurants and a museum are nearby, the distance keeps traffic and noise to a minimum.

Spirit Walk Retreat is a meditative place where visitors enjoy nature, peace, and contemplation time. It’s not for noisy families, but if it’s “time to think” you’re seeking, this could be the absolute best camping near Bakersfield.

Lake Isabella, California
Isabella River is within walking distance of Spirit Walk Private Retreat.

©Logan Bush/

4. Bakersfield River Run RV Park

River Run RV Park sits in the middle of Bakersfield. One hundred twenty-one well-equipped campsites await, with 20, 30, and 50 amp hookups, sewer hookups, water, wifi, and cable TV. Paved roads make driving easy. Angled hookup sites make it easy to park an RV.

Bakersfield River Run RV park runs an on-site clubhouse, swimming pool, indoor spa, and small gym. To the back of the site is the River Kern, peaceful enough to float on an inflatable or sit and watch wildlife. If you really love it here, long-term RV spots are available to book on their excellent website.

This is a popular, family-friendly site with attentive, friendly staff. It’s one of the absolute best camping sites near Bakersfield.

RV Park, camping
River Run RV Park is near Bakersfield and offers several amenities.


5. Orange Grove RV Park

The well-maintained, family-friendly Orange Grove RV park is 10 miles southeast of Bakersfield, easily accessible from Edison Highway.

Orange Park gets its name from the orange trees surrounding each long pull-through RV site, and yes, you can pick the oranges! This campsite has sewer and power hookups, plus plenty of facilities, including a gym, pool, game room, and free wifi.  

Fires and pets are allowed. Just mention pets in advance when booking in. Regular visitors suggest asking for a site on the campsite’s far side, to avoid road noise.

Orange Grove RV Park- best camping near Bakersfield
Orange Grove RV Park is one of the best camping near Bakersfield.

©Blake Watson/

6. Blue Sky Center, New Cuyama

Blue Sky Center’s 267-acre campground Khalili Cantina has Shelton huts and camping areas dispersed for peace and privacy. Best of all, a visit here supports Cuyama’s rural economic development.

Sixteen sites welcome pre-booked visitors. Ten sites are reserved for RVs or tents, and six sites offer Shelton huts. This desert site is fantastic for wildlife watching, but do be aware that’s is very rural, and there is no wheelchair access.

Biking, hiking, and off-roading are available nearby, plus climbing and swimming in the community pool to cool off in the Cali heat. This is an underappreciated stop-off and one of the absolute best camping near Bakersfield for peace-seeking travelers. It’s thoughtfully designed under a vast open sky with mountain views and a quiet night’s sleep. Despite being rural, it has a shared kitchen, outside tables, fire pits, and a bathroom with running hot water.

This a small campsite near Bakersfield that punches above its weight.

Six sites are reserved for tent campers at the Blue Sky Center near Bakersfield.

©Prapat Aowsakorn/

7. Kern River Camping Ground

Ten miles northeast of Bakersfield lies Kern River Camping Ground, with 50 campsites on 28 landscaped acres. This camping site is in 1,012 acre Kern River County Park, a recreational complex with several campgrounds.

It’s split into two sections with 25 sites on each side. There’s a maximum of eight people per campsite. Each spot has its own fire ring and picnic table, plus plenty of shade provided by trees. A cool breeze blows from the Kern River, whose water is chilly enough to cool off from the summer’s heat. Canoe, swim, float, or raft down the river to spot wildlife such as mule deer or condors over the mountains.

Kern River California
Kern River Camping Ground lies within Kern River County Park.


8. Tehachapi Mountain Park

490-acre rugged Tehachapi Mountain Park is eight miles southwest of Tehachapi town on the south side of Highway 58. As its name suggests, this campsite has elevation. It’s near 7,987-foot Woody’s Peak and is excellent for experienced hikers who want a peaceful challenge.

The secluded best camping near Bakersfield doesn’t get better than this mountainous 61-site camping ground. It’s on the 5,920-foot-tall Nuooah nature trail, where visitors spot mule deer, coyotes, and quail. An equestrian riding trail is well maintained.

Open all year but often closed due to snowfall in winter, snow chains are essential for campers heading here in the winter months.

Keep your eyes peeled because 1878, gold was discovered across the valley.

Tehachapi Mountain, California
Tehachapi Mountain Park is a 61-site campground near Bakersfield.

©Angel DiBilio/

9. McGill Camping Ground

An hour’s drive from Bakersfield takes you to a 74-site McGill Camping ground beneath a pine forest next to the Pinos Mountain Range in Los Padres National Forest. It’s a well-maintained camping ground at an elevation of 7,400 feet that welcomes RVs and tents and has two group sites with parking spaces for ten vehicles. All sites are nicely spaced out for privacy,

Each site has a bonfire pit, bench, and several biking and hiking trails leading from the camp, including the McGill Campground trail, the exploration trail, and the Mount Pinos trail. Enjoy beautiful San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada views and try to conquer the 8,831-foot-tall Mount Pinos.

McGill camping ground is open from May to October and has a maximum of 35 feet per space for RVs, but there’s no drinking water.

It might be a longer drive from Bakersfield than others on this best camping in Bakersfield shortlist, but its beautiful scenery and restful ambiance make up for it.

McGill Camping Ground is one of the best camping near Bakersfield.

©New Africa/

Bakersfield 9 Absolute Best Camping Spots

The best camping near Bakersfield depends on what kind of campsite you seek.

Wilderness lovers will enjoy Songdog Ranch in the Cuyama Badlands and the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, whereas campers looking for facilities can’t go wrong at Orange Grove and Bakersfield River Run RV sites.

If you want something in the middle, with facilities to make life easy but quiet hiking trails, try out McGill camping site in the Pinos mountain range. And finally, Spirit Walk Private Retreat is a must for adults seeking child-free accommodation.

Happy travels!

The Featured Image

Camping in nature
Camping in nature
© Tim Malek/

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About the Author

Rebecca is a professional researcher from England's south coast with special interests in the environment, particularly archaeology and plant species. She spends a lot of time rehabilitating injured wildlife and visiting Greek islands to enjoy the company of cats.

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