Oceano Dunes SVRA - Pismo Beach, CA

Open Year Round

Site Information:

1000 Sites Available


  • Honey Cart Available

  • Dump Station Available at Park Entrance


Many are not exactly familiar with the name of this place.  In the past it was known as Pismo Dunes SVRA (State Vehicular Recreation Area).  This beach has the distinction of being the only beach in California that you can drive a vehicle on, making it one of our favorite Extreme Locations!  Being almost 6 miles in length, you can use your ATV in the myriad dunes.  The size of this beach allows for up to 1,000 RV's to dry camp overnight.  Using the ReserveAmerica website you can reserve your spot up to 7 months ahead of time.

Scientists, government agencies, conservationists, and the public recognize this area as the most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California.  

So how did the dunes get here?

Most of the dunes were formed by material carried down to the ocean, from creeks rivers, and the like, as well as left behind by ocean currents, and finally shaped by the wind into the dunes that we see today.  Like other sand dunes, nature has its way of helping.  The winds blow the sand into  crests running North to South.  The ocean side of the dunes are sloped without much rise in height, where on the mountain side of the dunes, they are steep, as the sand accumulates until it eventually falls over the top of the dune,

The solitude of the dunes have had many whom called it home, from the earliest native Indians, to modern day groups like the "Dunites" in the 30's and 40's.  Like Sedona, many who have come have felt its creative energy.

When we arrived at Oceano, RV in tow, there were only a few fellow RVer's that had pulled onto the beach, an found an area to set up camp.  You must go past mile marker two before you are allowed to camp.  So we drove down a ways, and found an area that appealed to us, so we carefully pulled our RV around so that our slide outs faced the ocean, and completely set up.  Now we have to admit, we forgot one very important thing in doing all this.  Can you guess what it is?  The tides.  We forgot that there is a high and low tide.  So when we set up, it seemed like we had plenty of space for people to drive by on the packed sand, and yet we would be close enough, that we felt no one would pull between us and the water, so our views would be unobstructed.

Late in the evening, after the sun went down, we discovered we had made a little miscalculation.  We were actually a little to close to the waters edge.  How close?  Well, the water actually came under our rig throughout the night.  But it was to late to do anything, so we hoped for the best, and waited for morning.  As you can see, the complexion was a little different in the light of a new day.  In stead of being set back as we thought we were, we were actually pretty close to the new edge of the water.  So as you can see we felt we were just a little bit to close to the super packed sand people used as the road, so we hooked back up, and moved just a little bit higher.

But moving is not always without a little adventure.  We found the second thing we did wrong when moving.  Bet you can't guess what it was.  In trying to just be a little higher up on the sand, I turned the truck just a little bit to wide, and was in the really soft sand.  As luck would have it, that extra large loop I made to seemingly make things easier, instead made things much harder.  The back wheel on the drivers side of the truck sank into the sand. But this is where we discovered the wonderful nature of RVer's.  After getting out of the truck and seeing myself buried up to the floor boards, a fellow RVer strolled over from the distance with a shovel in hand.  A shovel, what a great thing to have on the beach.  To bad I had not thought of one myself.  He started digging even before introductions, and within minutes we were able to get "unstuck".

Now that all the mishaps were behind us, we could spend the next few days enjoying the Extreme experience.  The water, as always was cool, but the dolphins we saw swimming by daily in the waves didn't seem to mind.  Neither did the lone curious seal that bobbed along viewing all the busy activity.  With this being a dry camp, we chose to hook up periodically, and pull the rig down to empty the tanks at the dump station, and refill with fresh water.  Although, there was a friendly bunch that drove down the beach once or twice a day with a fully stocked "honeycart" that could empty your tanks, provide fresh water and even firewood for around $40 depending on which service you chose.

Three days later, with the weekend upon us, a holiday weekend no less, we began to see more and more fellow RVer's arriving to set up shop on the beach just as we had a couple of days earlier.  The beach which only a few days ago seemed so empty, was now becoming a little beach city.  Nearly 1,000 RVer's eventually set up to enjoy the weekend.

Oceano/Pismo Beach is one of our favorite RV experiences.  To wake up each morning with the pacific ocean right outside your RV windows, and perfect sunsets each evening.  Not to mention listening to the calming sound of the waves out the bedroom window as we slept was extraordinarily peaceful.  What more could anyone want, except possibly to be a little bit further up on the sand.