El Capitan State Beach RV & Campground Guide


Located west of Santa Barbara, El Capitan State Beach is part of California's state park system and a protected beach. The average temperatures for the beach range from 46 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, 51 to 69 in the spring, 60 to 76 in the summer and 56 to 72 in the fall. Within 30 miles of the state park are other cities, including Goleta, Summerland and Santa Ynez. El Capitan State Beach is home to a campground and tide pools, and it lets visitors see monarch butterflies in the fall.

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Spring 51-69 F
Summer 60-76 F
Fall 56-72 F
Winter 46-65 F
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RV Resorts & Campsites in El Capitan State Beach

An easy and convenient way to see all the state parks in California is with an RV. With RVshare, you can easily find an RV rental near Santa Barbara and the beach to enjoy camping with all the comforts of home. 

El Capitan State Beach Campground

At El Capitan State Beach Campground, you can stay close to the beach. This campground has 131 sites with six sites reserved for RV campers. There are also six sites set aside for groups. The RV sites can accommodate trailers and other vehicles of up to 42 feet long. Prices start at $45 per night and come with a picnic table and a fire ring.

• Water hookups: No

• Electrical hookups: No

• Sewer hookups: No

• Wi-Fi: No

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Potable water, general store, flush toilets, horseshoe pits, charcoal grills

Ocean Mesa at El Capitan

Not far away from the state beach is Ocean Mesa at El Capitan, which has RV sites with full hookups that can accommodate vehicles of up to 50 feet. During the summer, this campground hosts concerts for guests. You'll also find daily activities scheduled, including wine tastings and movie nights. A playground and swimming pool are close to some of the hiking trails, too.

• Water hookups: Yes

• Electrical hookups: Yes

• Sewer hookups: Yes

• Wi-Fi: Yes

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Scheduled activities, massage room, market

Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park

Owned and operated by a local family, Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park is popular with tourists and locals. Conveniently located right off Highway 101, the park has a large wall to block out some of the sounds of the highway. All sites come with enough space for you to turn around and include free cable television. Sites start at $65 per night.

• Water hookups: Yes

• Electrical hookups: Yes 

• Sewer hookups: Yes

• Wi-Fi: Yes

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Cable TV on spots, laundry facilities, private bathrooms and showers, picnic tables

Earl Warren Showgrounds RV Park

Located at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, this RV park lets you stay close to the fair and other upcoming events you want to see. Some of the sites and restrooms are handicap-accessible, and you can check in any time after 3:00 p.m. The park can accommodate groups of up to 10 RV campers and offers sites for $60 to $65 per night.

• Water hookups: Yes

• Electrical hookups: Yes

• Sewer hookups: Yes

• Wi-Fi: Yes

• Pet-friendly: Yes

• Other amenities: Showers, restrooms, late checkout

RV Rentals Near El Capitan State Beach

Nearby RV Rentals


What to Do at
El Capitan State Beach

Inside El Capitan State Beach

El Capitan State Beach offers fun things to do such as picnicking, surfing, swimming and fishing. If you visit in the fall, you can see the monarch butterflies flock to the beach for their breeding session. This is one of the only parks where you can see this happen. The beach also has several tide pools where you can see marine life. You'll also find a staircase that makes it easy for you to get from the beach to the bluffs and back again.

Outside El Capitan State Beach

You don't need to spend your whole vacation at El Capitan State Beach because there are restaurants and other places to visit in nearby Santa Barbara. Most of these hot spots are only 20 to 30 minutes away from the beach. 


Cold Spring Tavern

Located right on State Route 154, Cold Spring Tavern is something of a local landmark. You can belly up to one of the wagon wheel tables or sit at a picnic table and enjoy dishes that use wild game, including buffalo and venison. This is a popular restaurant for hikers and campers, too. Cold Spring Tavern is a casual restaurant located at 5995 Stagecoach Road in Santa Barbara.

Type: American

Location: 5995 Stagecoach Road Santa Barbara, CA

Helena Avenue Bakery

One of the best places to find homemade goodies is at the Helena Avenue Bakery at 131 Anacapa Street. All the items on the menu feature organic ingredients sourced from local farmers and vendors. You'll find unique dishes such as Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast and the HAB Double Cheeseburger for lunch. With the grab-and-go items, you can design a picnic lunch, too.

Type: Breakfast and Lunch

Location: 131 Anacapa Street Santa Barbara, CA

Handlebar Coffee Roasters

Don't assume that you can only find coffee from national chains because Santa Barbara is home to Handlebar Coffee Roasters. This coffee shop roasts fresh beans daily and serves delicious coffee drinks to customers.

Type: Coffee Shop

Location: 2720 De La Vina Street Santa Barbara, CA

Bibi Ji

For authentic Indian food with a modern spin, you'll want to head to Bibi Ji. With the $50 tasting menu, you get the chance to try multiple dishes on the menu. The sommelier can recommend the right wine or beer to drink with each dish. Bibi Ji opens daily for dinner and offers contemporary Indian dishes from its location at 734 State Street.

Type: Indian

Location: 734 State Street Santa Barbara, CA


The Blue Door

For antiques and mid-century goodies, The Blue Door is the best place to go. Located at 44 E Yanonali, it lets you have a different experience each time you visit because the displays change from day to day. 

Location: 44 E Yanonali Santa Barbara, CA

Jake & Jones

A popular boutique that locals love is Jake & Jones on East Canon Perdido Street in the Perdido District. This upscale shop specializes in goods made in California from brands that include Aviator Nation and Heidi Merrick. You'll also find loads of clothing and accessories from indie brands. 

Location: East Canon Perdido Street Santa Barbara, CA

Stearns Wharf

If you have a few hours free and want to do some shopping, check out Stearns Wharf. This historic wharf is home to multiple restaurants and shops, including Nature's Own Gallery and Stearns Wharf Bait and Tackle, which lets you pick up supplies for fishing at the beach. The wharf also holds special events such as a Fourth of July fireworks spectacular.

Location: Santa Barbara, CA


Mission Santa Barbara

No visit to El Capitan State Beach or Santa Barbara is complete without a trip to Mission Santa Barbara. This mission dates back to the 18th century and includes an on-site church. You can pay your respects as you tour the historic structures. It also has a museum dedicated to the Franciscan friars who once operated the mission.

Location: Santa Barbara, CA


Fans of the great outdoors and nature may want to head to Lotusland. This is one of the largest botanical gardens in California. It boasts hundreds of exotic plants, including some that you won't find anywhere else in the state.

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara Zoo

With more than 500 different types of animals housed on more than three acres, it's easy to see why the Santa Barbara Zoo ranks as one of the world's best zoos. The Zoo Train lets you take a trip around the zoo and costs $7 for adults and $6.50 for kids. You can also try the climbing wall and feed some of the zoo's giraffes before checking out the petting zoo and rattlesnake quarry.

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

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How to Get to
El Capitan State Beach

As El Capitan State Beach is west of Santa Barbara and close to Highway 101, you'll want to follow that highway to get there. Whether you come from the north or the south, look for Exit 117, which has El Capitan State Beach on the sign. As long as you see the ocean, you know that you're getting close. You will find a large sign that shows the entrance to the park.

By Car

Entering El Capitan State Beach

When you enter El Capitan State Beach via the park entrance, you need to pay a $10 fee. This gives you complete access to the beach and all amenities. If you're camping on-site and you bring more than one vehicle with you, you need to pay $10 for each additional vehicle, too. The beach's hours are 8 a.m. to sunset.

El Capitan State Beach Per car : $10.0

El Capitan State Beach offers visitors the chance to play in the ocean and the surf for a low fee and check out the butterflies and wildlife in the park. You can walk down the beach and use the staircase to check out the bluffs, too. When you travel to El Capitan State Beach and camp on the beach or in a nearby campground, let RVshare know about the fun that you had! Send your memories and photos to [email protected] for a chance to see your experiences shared on social media.

Frequently Asked Questions About El Capitan State Beach

What is the best time of year to visit El Capitan State Beach?

El Capitan State Beach is located in Santa Barbara, CA, and is a protected beach area. If you're interested in seeing the park's Monarch butterflies, visit this park in the fall.

What is the climate of El Capitan State Beach?

El Capitan State Beach is located in a warm Mediterranean climate. Expect summer temperatures to top out at 76 degrees Fahrenheit, with winter temperatures on the beach hitting the 65-degree mark.

What kind of wildlife can be found in El Capitan State Beach?

The most common wildlife in the park is its bird population of band-tailed pigeons, California thrashers, scrub jays, and the elusive red-tailed hawk. While hiking in the park, you might find mule deer foraging.

Are there designated RV camping spots in El Capitan State Beach?

There is one campground at El Capitan State Beach. It has 131 sites, of which six are reserved for RVs. The RV sites accommodate campers up to 42 feet long and don't include electrical hookups.

Are pets allowed at El Capitan State Beach?

Dogs are allowed at El Capitan State Beach. However, they must be kept on leashes at all times, never left unattended, and they're not allowed in public buildings or on the beach unless they're service dogs.