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2/15/19 to 2/18/19 San Onofre State Park / San Mateo Campground

Highlights: San Onofre State Beach, Calafia State Beach with trail to San Clemente Pier, San Juan Capistrano

Campground: Site 14; E/W hookups; Nice Campground.

As described below on the California SP web site (, this state park has several components and access points.

“San Onofre State Beach is one of California's most popular beaches and hosts surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, campers, kayakers, birders, fishermen and bicyclists. It has almost 2.5 million visitors per year and it is one of the top five most-visited state parks in California. Whales, dolphins and sea lions can be seen offshore from time to time. Governor Ronald Reagan established San Onofre State Beach in 1971. The state beach has three distinct areas: the San Onofre Bluffs, the San Mateo Campground and the San Onofre Surf Beach.

San Onofre Bluffs offers camping and day-use parking along Old Highway 101 adjacent to the beautiful sandstone bluffs. This beach below is popular with swimmers and surfers with six rugged dirt access trails cut into the bluff above. All campsites include a fire pit and picnic table. The campground offers cold outdoor showers and chemical toilets. No RV hookups are available, however, there is a RV dump-station. San Onofre - San Mateo Campground is a short distance inland from the 3.5-miles of sandy beaches within San Onofre State Beach. A 1.5-mile Nature Trail connects the campground to “Trestles Beach,” the world class surfing site. Surfers using redwood boards have visited San Onofre since at least the 1940s; San Mateo Creek flows just east of the campground outward towards the ocean creating key riparian and wetland habitats which host some rare and even endangered species. All campsites include a fire pit and picnic table. RV Hookup sites are available with electricity and water. Other amenities includes a dump-station, hot indoor showers, and flush toilets. Camping is available year-round.

San Onofre Surf Beach offers a world renowned and historical surf break. This area of the beach is only for “day-use” and there is no camping.”

San Onofre Bluffs

On one occasion, we drove down the Old Pacific Highway to the San Onofre Bluffs – just south of the San Onofre nuke plant. A long walk along the road brings one to several access points to the stoney beach. These access points are extremely eroded and steep and some are quite difficult if not impossible without scrambling or sliding. The beach itself is beautiful but is difficult walking on the stones – even if the surf has worn them smooth.

Easy stepping


she's getting there!

Difficult but pretty

Worth the trouble!

A fence along the trail is visible on the bluff face above

From this spot the trail looks fine. It does reveal spectacular scenery as you approach the water


In my post of "2/18/19 to 2/22/19 Crystal Cove State Park", I erroneously described our visit to San Juan Capistrano and the San Clemente Pier. We actually visited these two sites from the San Mateo Campground. Rather than repost the same images, we'll just leave them there. The two campgrounds are only 20 miles apart, but the two sites are closer to San Onofre.

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