Public campgrounds along the famous Pacific Coast Highway, AKA CA-1, are plentiful. Most are located on or near the beach. For the purposes of this post, we will begin on the north end, at Leggett, and proceed southward, ending at I-5 in Dana Point, CA. North to south is the best way to travel on this highway if your purpose is to catch some great shoreline scenery, because the scenic lookouts will be on the right-hand side of the road. Don't be in a hurry on this road; if you are, you're better off taking either US-101 or I-5, as the road is not conducive to high speed travel. Most of the campgrounds are either state parks or state beaches, which fill very quickly during the summer months. Reservations are highly recommended!
MacKerricher State Park, Cleone
Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino
Note: Maximum trailer and motorhome length: 24'
Van Damme State Park, Albion/Little River
Note: Trailers/motorhome drivers should park at the regular parking lot first to look at a temporary bridge. Approach is everything!
Sonoma Coast State Beach, Bodega Bay
Note: Maximum lengths, 31 ft.
Doran Park, Sonoma County Park, Bodega Bay
Westside Park, Sonoma County Park, Bodega Bay
Tomales Bay State Park, Point Reyes
Samuel P Taylor State Park, Lagunitas
Note: Maximum trailer length is 27', motorhome length is 31'.
Point Reyes National Seashore Campgrounds
Note: The Nat'l Seashore only offers backcountry camping; no drive-up. Try Tomales Bay State Park, Taylor, or the Mount Tamalpais State Park campgrounds.
Mount Tamalpais State Park Campgrounds
Note: Pantoll and Bootjack Campgrounds are drive-in. Others are hike-in or boat-in.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area Campground
Note: Kirby Cove is the only drive-in campground; all others are hike-in.
Half Moon Bay State Park, Half Moon Bay
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Davenport
Note: You must use Hwy 9 to access the campground.
New Brighton State Park, Capitola
Seacliff State Beach, Aptos
Manresa State Beach, south of Aptos
Note: Camping is for tents only.
Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur
Note: Trailer length limit 27', motorhome length limit 32 ft. Also note that there is no access to Pfeiffer Beach from this park. That is a separate park and a separate admission is charged, not a state park.
Limekiln State Park, Big Sur
Note: Trailer length limit 15', motorhome length limit 24 ft.
Prewitt Ridge Campground, Big Sur
Note: Inquire locally, as there is no listing for this campground in the Los Padres NF website or any other reliable site. Several of the less reliable sites say it's primitive and free, with a view. The drive up there is hard on sedans and other non-SUV type vehicles, so beware.
Plaskett Creek Campground, Los Padres NF, Lucia
Alder Creek Campground, Los Padres NF
Note: Located 8 miles from the PCH on Willow Creek Road.
Hearst San Simeon State Park, San Simeon
Note: Two campgrounds.
Morro Bay State Park, Morro Bay
Pismo State Beach, Pismo Beach
Note: Two campgrounds. Maximum trailer length 31', motorhome 35'.
CA-1 joins US-101 from Las Cruces to Oxnard
Point Mugu State Park, Point Mugu
Note: Two campgrounds, maximum length of trailers & motorhomes is 31'.
Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu
Note: Maximum length of trailers and motorhomes is 31'
Malibu Creek State Park, Malibu
Note: About 7 miles from the PCH. Many films and TV shows have used this park for location shooting, but sadly, wild fires have taken most of the evidence away.
Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach
Doheny State Beach, Dana Point
Now, follow US-101 again down to San Diego - it runs concurrently with I-5.