I’ve been camping and off-roading in Ocotillo Wells for the past seven years, and I love it so much that I normally make the trek multiple times each season. Camping is FREE and entrance to the state park is FREE! The off-road trails are diverse and fun to explore— there are washes to blast through, technical trails to traverse, and landscapes that make you feel like you’re walking on Mars. There’s a ton of geological action at work in Ocotillo Wells, such as the active Gas Domes, the odd pumpkin-shaped formations in the Pumpkin Patch, and the oyster shells at Shell Reef. And for the Jeep enthusiasts out there, the scenic Tierra Del Sol trail is a must-do! Never been to Ocotillo Wells and unsure where to camp? Read on for my favorite camping spots.
My absolute favorite spot to camp in Ocotillo Wells is in the Badlands. The Badlands are located on the northern edge of Ocotillo Wells, west of the 4×4 Training Area, and it’s a great spot for large groups with multiple RVs. There are shade structures, a few vault toilets, and lots of open space. There are no RV hookups, so come prepared to boondock. If you pick a spot out toward the edge that borders the Tectonic Gorge Trail, there’s a small drop-off that ensures that you won’t have any neighbors behind you and also makes for unobstructed sunset views. On busy holiday weekends, this area does fill up, so try to arrive on a Thursday evening to find a great spot.
GPS Coordinates for the Badlands: 33.266052, -116.018821 (This is the location of the dirt road that leads you to the Badlands.)
Holmes Camp is located on the southern edge of Ocotillo Wells and is the only campground with running water in the bathrooms. (And there are even coin-op showers!) Each site has a shade cover, picnic table, fire ring and are RV friendly (but no hookups). The sites are situated right next to each other; if you’re looking for more space and privacy then Holmes Camp may not be your best bet.
Enter Ocotillo Wells near the Discovery Center and make your way to The Cove for campsites that offer more space and privacy than Holmes Camp. Each site has a shade structure, picnic table, and fire ring. There are vault toilets in this area, but pack your own water. If you’re RV camping, be prepared to boondock. There’s no running water available and no RV hookups.
I’ve also camped at Leapin’ Lizard RV Ranch which is located directly across the street from the southern edge of Ocotillo Wells. I definitely prefer camping within Ocotillo Wells because you can’t beat the desert views, but for campers who like to have full hookups, Leapin’ Lizard is a great spot. It has full hookups, bathrooms with running water, and even a little dog park.
Looking to steal away to Ocotillo Wells just for the day? Make the 4×4 Training Area on the northern edge of the park your destination. There are vault toilets, picnic tables, and it’s the shortest drive from the 10 freeway. The Tierra Del Sol trail is accessible from the 4×4 Training Area, and if you’re off-roading in a side-by-side, quad, or dirt bike, you can make it around Ocotillo Wells within a day.
First time camping in Ocotillo Wells? Here’s my list of Ocotillo Wells camping essentials.
// Water – These are the water jugs I like to use; you can set them on a table and they have an easy-to-use spigot. Even when we RV camp in Ocotillo Wells, we bring a few of these extra water jugs.
// Map – This Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area map shows the camping areas in Ocotillo Wells as well as all the off-road trails, bathrooms, and geological features. Download it on your phone before you head out, cell service is hit or miss once you get there.
// Offroad toys – Quads, dirt bikes, RZRs, Jeeps, anything!
// Kites – Ocotillo Wells can be a windy place, so if you’re bringing kids along (and you should, my kids love it) plan on packing a kite for those windy afternoons. A huge kite like this is super fun and this single-line parafoil kite flies incredible and comes in a convenient, compact stuff-sack bag.
// Sand Toys – Here’s another must-have for the kiddos. If your kids enjoy playing in the dirt, they will have a blast getting filthy in Ocotillo Wells.
RV Boondocking Tips
There are no dump stations and no water filling stations within Ocotillo Wells. Your best bet is to come prepared with a full water tank and empty black and grey tanks. This ARCO station near the northeast edge of Ocotillo Wells has a dump station and is a convenient stop if it’s not completely packed on a Sunday afternoon. Camping is permitted for up to 30 days. There are no camping or entrance fees.
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