McGrath State Beach Campground is a wide open campground that is situated against the mouth of the Santa Clara Rover, just south of Ventura. The beach is actually located about 400 yards away from the campground, and is separated by large sand dunes. Bird watching is popular at McGrath State Beach, due to its proximity to the river estuary, which is populated with trees that go all the way down to the water. The Santa Clara River is one of the last undammed rivers in Southern California, and the estuary is an environmentally protected area. This combination often leads to the campground being flooded out and closed when the water cannot overflow the sandbar that separates the estuary from the ocean.
The campground has 174 campsites which are organized into asterisk-shaped pods that are RV-friendly, however there are no pull-through campsites. There are trees at the campground, but the campsites are largely unshaded and exposed. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring, and access to bathrooms with coin-operated showers. Supplies are located nearby in Ventura. Leashed dogs are allowed within the campground, but not on the beach.
McGrath State Beach is often flooded and closed, be sure to check to see if it is open before you go.
McGrath State Beach Campground – Bottom Line
This is an interesting campground, and kind of a mess. As mentioned McGrath often floods out when the river cannot overcome the sandbar and flow into the ocean. According to one of the campground hosts the issue is also further complicated and exasperated by the water reclamation plant that lives on the other side of the river, which discharges the treated and reclaimed water into the river estuary. McGrath has been flooding off and on for the last few years, leaving much of the campground in sad shape and unusable.
Surprisingly we actually enjoyed camping at McGrath State Beach Campground. We camped here on a whim after attempting to camp at Carpinteria State Beach and Hobson County Park, and the campground was partially flooded leaving only a few quiet campsite loops open for camping. There also seemed to be an inordinate amount campground hosts roaming the campground, we counted at least 6 hosts for maybe 30 open campsites.
The bottom line on McGrath State Beach Campground is if you need a last minute campground, you may be able to get one here if the campground is open.
McGrath State Beach Campground Features
|Number of Campsites:||174 Campsites|
|Cost:||$45/night, $8 online reservation fee|
|Dogs Allowed:||Yes – Not allowed on the beach, campground only|
|Showers:||Yes – Coin Operated|
|RV/Trailer Length:||35 Feet|
|Cell Phone Service:||Yes|
|Operating Season:||Campground Open Year-round|
|Address:||2211 Harbor Blvd., Oxnard, CA 93035|
|Geo Coordinates:||34.228170, -119.259013|
|Nearest City/Town:||Ventura, California|
|Location:||Ventura County, California|
|Paved Road Access:||Yes|
|Proximity to Stores:||A few miles to Ventura|
McGrath State Beach is located 5 miles south of Ventura. From Jct US-101 & Seaward Ave, head west on Seaward Ave to Harbor Blvd, drive south for 3 miles. The campground will be on your right after passing the river.
|Web:||California State Parks||Twitter:|
When To Go
McGrath State Beach Campground Pictures