Baja California, Mexico is known as the place where the desert meets the sea. It’s a land of incredible natural beauty with scenic deserts, beautiful beaches, and picture-perfect night skies.
The Baja peninsula is also home to delicious Mexican food and plenty of cold cerveza, some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, and colorful historical towns to explore.
Going on a road trip and camping along the way is one of the best ways to explore Baja. Camping styles range from a hammock under a beachfront palapa to luxury glamping, and everything in between, but most people camp in tents or campers.
I’m Mexican and have been camping in Baja since I was about 5 years old. It’s one of my favorite destinations in the world and I’m passionate about sharing it with others.
This intro to Baja California camping goes over everything you need to know before camping in Baja, Mexico, including essential border crossing info, what to pack, and the best campground and RV parks in Baja.
What is Baja?
“Baja” is the name commonly used to refer to the entire Baja California peninsula in northwestern Mexico. The Baja peninsula is actually made up of two Mexican states: Baja California to the north and Baja California Sur to the south.
Stretching from the US border at San Diego and Tijuana to the famous arch in Cabo San Lucas, Baja is an estimated 760 miles (1,220 km) long and 25 to 150 miles (40 to 240 km) wide.
The Baja peninsula is flanked by the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez) on its eastern side and the Pacific Ocean on its western side and has 2,038 miles (3,280 km) of coastline with islands on either side.
How to Get to the Baja California Peninsula
Tijuana (TIJ), Los Cabos (SJD), and Loreto (LTO) are the three main international airports in Baja.
But most who want to camp in Baja drive their own vehicles and RVs to Mexico. Some people visit for just a weekend, while others spend the winter months in Baja to escape the cold weather at home.
US and Mexico Border Crossings
The main US and Mexico land border crossings for Baja are Tijuana, Tecate, and Mexicali.
Tijuana is famous for being the busiest border crossing in the world. There is usually a 10-minute to 1.5-hour long wait time to cross the border from the US to Mexico by car, but the wait times from Mexico to the US can get up to 3 hours or more.
Mexicali is also a busy border crossing, but its wait times are usually a bit shorter than Tijuana, and Tecate is a small border crossing with the least wait time.
Depending on your route, the best place to cross the border is to enter Mexico via San Diego/Tijuana (for Highway 1) or Calexico/Mexicali (for Highway 5) and return to the United States via Tecate.
For minimal wait times, avoid crossing the border during rush hour (before and after work), weekends, and holidays.
TIP: Be sure to stop at the border crossing, park your vehicle, and enter the Mexican immigration office to get your passport entry stamp and FMM tourist permit validated.
Mexico Entry Requirements
The Mexico entry requirements for US and Canadian citizens are a valid passport and an FMM (Mexican tourist permit).
You can start the FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple) application online or fill out the form once at the Mexican border or airport. Either way, the form needs to be signed by an immigration official upon entry to visit Mexico to be valid.
Items like guns and drugs are illegal to cross into Mexico. Be sure to check the official lists of prohibited items before entering Mexico and pack accordingly.
Documents Needed for Car Travel to Mexico
In addition to your passport and FMM, you need the following documents to drive your vehicle in Mexico:
- Mexican Auto Insurance: You need to get additional auto insurance for Mexico. Mexican car insurance is required by law, even if you already have coverage back home. Get your free quote from Baja Bound >
- Driver’s License: US and Canadian driver’s licenses are valid for driving in Mexico. You don’t need an international driver’s license.
- Vehicle Registration: Valid registration documents are necessary for all vehicles entering Mexico.
- Temporary Import Permit: If you’re only driving within Baja California and Baja California Sur, you don’t need a temporary import permit (TIP) for your vehicle. However, you will need to stop at the border to get a TIP if you are driving to other Mexican states or taking the ferry from La Paz to mainland Mexico.
Best Time to Visit Baja
In general, the best time to visit Baja is November to April. The winter months in Baja bring sunny days and cooler nights (pack a jacket) that are ideal for camping. This is also peak wind season in wind sport areas like La Ventana and Los Barriles, so be prepared for windy afternoons and strong gusts of wind.
The summer months get hot and muggy on the Gulf of California coast and central desert. While the Pacific Coast has comfortable weather year-round, especially in the northern Pacific.
If you like swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving, May and October are when the water is warm and the weather isn’t too hot. Just be aware that peak hurricane season in Baja California Sur usually lasts from the end of August to the beginning of October.
Busiest Travel Times in Baja:
- Semana Santa (spring break)
- Christmas and New Year
- Baja 500 & 1000 Offroad Races
Baja California Average Weather
The climate throughout the Baja California peninsula ranges from snow-capped mountains in San Pedro Martir to temperatures over 100 °F (38 °C) degrees in the central desert region.
Baja California peninsula weather by month and location:
Baja California Camping Vehicles
In Baja, you’ll come across all types of vehicles used for camping: Class A motorhomes, schoolies, camper vans, truck campers, four-wheel drive SUVs with roof tents, toy haulers, 5th wheels, and off-grid overlanding vehicles.
The best vehicle for camping in Baja really depends on what style of camping you prefer and if you plan on doing any off-roading. I’ve personally gone camping in Baja with a variety of vehicles, including a sedan, truck, 4WD SUV, and 2WD camper van.
One of the most important things is to learn how to drive in sand and air down the tires, and pack the gear needed to get yourself out if you get stuck.
It is extremely common to see cars stuck in the sand in Baja, but people here are friendly and happy to help each other during emergencies.
Bring the following gear to avoid getting stuck in the sand:
Check out the full Baja Camping gear list here.
Baja California Camping Tips
Camping in Mexico is easy once you get the hang of things. Here are some essentials things to know before you go camping in Baja.
Maps and Apps for Baja Camping
The cell service in Baja, Mexico is spotty or non-existent outside of cities, so download Google maps offline and carry a physical Baja map when driving down the Baja Peninsula.
The Baja California Road and Recreation Atlas is the most comprehensive and up-to-date road map of the Baja Peninsula. The 72-page Baja road atlas (11″ x 15.5″) provides detailed maps and recreation guides for both states on the peninsula, Baja California and Baja California Sur.
One of the best apps for camping in Baja is iOverlander (available for Apple and Android). iOverlander has offline maps for overlanding and camping with crowd-sourced campsite reviews, water fill-ups, propane refill stations, showers, and more.
Check out our full list of Best Baja California Books, Maps, and Apps.
Where to Find Drinking Water in Baja
The tap water in Mexico is fine for rinsing, but not for drinking. For drinking water, locals use garrafones (20L water bottles) filled with purified water.
Garrafones and other water jugs are refilled at agua purificada (purified water) shops, also called purificadora de agua. There is at least one purified water shop in every town in Mexico. It costs around 14-18 pesos to refill a 20L garrafón in Baja.
For camping, some people only fill up their jugs and tanks with purified water, while others carry both tap water for rinsing and purified water for drinking.
We use these easy-to-carry water jugs with handles:
To fill up RV water tanks at the purified water shops, ask for a manguera (hose) which most places have.
How to Refill Propane Tanks in Baja
You can refill your propane tank at dedicated fill-up stations. Fill-up stations for propane gas tanks are normally located on the outskirts of cities. Make sure to refill your propane tank before heading to less populated areas because some smaller towns do not have propane fill-up stations.
Propane gas is simply called gas in Mexico and Baja Gas is the name of the biggest distribuidora de gas (gas distributor) in Baja.
The stations have attendants that will fill up your tanks, accept cash payment, and hand you a receipt.
Updated propane gas prices are usually printed on a piece of paper and taped near the fill-up machine. Most US propane tanks do not need an adapter to refill.
Here’s why we use a refillable 5 lb propane tank for camping instead of the single use 1 lb containers or bulkier 20 lb tanks.
Bathrooms at Baja Campgrounds
The bathroom facilities vary greatly from campsite to campsite. Most rustic beach campgrounds offer only primitive pit toilets without toilet paper. Meanwhile, RV parks provide full bathroom facilities with hot water showers.
Unfortunately, too many campers in Baja are choosing to do their business outside without proper waste disposal. Streams of toilet paper and unsightly mounds are quickly becoming a serious issue at popular Baja boondocking sites and beach campgrounds.
To reduce your impact on the environment, the best option is to bring your own portable camping toilet and a bathroom tent (we use this pop up tent). RV black tanks can be emptied at RV park dump stations or by paying for a sanitation truck to visit your site.
How to Find Campsites in Baja California
Finding places to camp in Baja is easy. Many (but not all) campgrounds and RV parks are listed on Google Maps and Baja guidebooks.
Many people use the well-known camping app iOverlander to find campsites in Baja. While it’s very helpful for finding campsites easily, it’s caused some of the sites listed there to get crowded beyond capacity, making it difficult for the environment to recover between campers.
Please camp responsibly and be mindful of the area’s limited resources. Don’t cut down the hundred-year-old giant cactus for firewood or contribute to the already problematic overfishing of the Sea of Cortez.
The best way to find awesome remote campsites is by using a combination of satellite Google Maps, this Baja road atlas, and get advice from knowledgable locals.
You can find more info on how to find campsites here.
Types of Baja Campsites
Baja is known for its amazing campsites. You can turn off onto a dirt road and drive until you reach a secluded beach and boondock right on the sand.
But you can also pull into a beachfront RV park that’s walking distance from town with full hookups and a pool.
The camping possibilities are endless and there’s something for every type of camper.
The Baja California peninsula is a boondocker’s paradise! There are miles and miles of stunning, undeveloped coastline where you can camp directly on the beach for free.
Arroyos are popular places to boondock and are usually the only free spots to camp near towns. An arroyo is a dry creek bed or wash, that is left undeveloped to allow for proper water flow when it rains. Rain is rare during the winter months in Baja Sur, but be aware that flash floods are common in arroyos following thunderstorms.
Getting to the most remote boondocking sites can be a little tricky since some require hours of driving along a desolate dirt road or are only accessible with a 4-wheel drive. But, as it typically works with boondocking sites anywhere, the harder it is to get to, the better the campsite.
There are a variety of established campgrounds for inland and beach camping in Baja California. They range in cost from around 50 MXN for dry camping on the sand to 500 MXN pesos for access to more amenities like flushing toilets, showers, and electricity.
Many of the beach campgrounds offer beautiful views and basic facilities, like trash cans, rustic pit toilets, and palapas. A palapa is a traditional Mexican open-sided shelter with a palm-leaf thatched roof that’s perfect for hanging up a hammock to relax or setting up your camp kitchen gear.
RV parks in Baja are usually located close to town and many have prime beachfront locations, some even have pools.
They offer hot showers, full hookups, laundry facilities, dump stations, and WiFi for about 250 to 800 MXN pesos per night. Most have spots for tent camping and allow reservations.
There are many snowbirds that return to the same sites yearly, so you might want to reserve your spot ahead of time.
Baja California Camping Map
Check out this interactive Baja California camping map with all of the best Baja campgrounds and RV parks.
The Best Baja Campgrounds and RV Parks
These are our favorite campgrounds, RV parks, and beach camping spots in Baja with easy access for most vehicles and campers.
The campground list is in order from north to south and back up north following our recommended Baja road trip route: enter Mexico via Mexicali, take Highway 5 along the Gulf, and then Highway 1 down to the southern tip of the peninsula, then head back north on Highway 1 along the Pacific, and exit through Tecate.
For an alternative route, check out this Classic Baja California Road Trip Itinerary.
The campsites on this list are organized by location with 1 to 2 top camping options for each area. All of these campsites are places where camping is permitted, so there’s no need to worry about accidentally camping on private land.
San Felipe, Baja California is a fishing town on the shore of the Gulf of California, about 2 hours south of the capital city of Mexicali.
With countless beachfront RV parks, tons of seafood restaurants, and a lively boardwalk, it’s the ideal place to ease into Mexico and spend a few days decompressing after crossing the border.
TIP: This is the best place to stock up on fuel, propane, and groceries before heading south to the small towns along Highway 5.
Club de Pesca RV Park
Cost: 350-700 MXN
Description: Large RV park right on the beach south of the boardwalk. From here, it’s a beautiful 15-minute walk along the sand to San Felipe’s main street and restaurants. Campsites range from dry camping to ocean-view sites with hook-ups, 24-hour security, free wifi, bathrooms, hot showers, an onsite mini-market with cold drinks, and a shaded beachfront community terrace with tables and chairs.
Contact: Club de Pesca Facebook Page
Kiki’s RV Park
Cost: 800 MXN
Description: If you’re looking for the quintessential San Felipe beach camping experience, check out the photogenic 2-story beachfront palapas at this campground. Amenities include hook-ups, grills, flushing toilets, and hot showers. The 30-minute walk south to town from Kiki’s is through a dimly lit neighborhood without sidewalks and is not recommended at night.
Contact: Kiki’s Facebook Page
Puertecitos is a quiet beach community with secret seaside hot springs and a beachfront campground. It’s located about an hour’s drive south of San Felipe along Highway 5.
Campo Turistico Puertecitos
Cost: 600 MXN (includes hot springs fee)
Description: This campground is on Playa Puertecitos, about a 10-minute walk from the hot springs. Every campsite has a grill, lamp, non-potable water, shade, an electrical outlet for small devices, and a picnic table. Amenities include flushing toilets (bring your own toilet paper), water and buckets for showering, and trash cans. The cost includes access to the hot springs from 7 am on the day of arrival to 2 pm the next day. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
Bahia San Luis Gonzaga
Bahia San Luis Gonzaga sometimes referred to as Gonzaga Bay, is a large bay with a sand spit that stretches out to an island in its center. Its shores are home to a small fishing village, a row of beach homes, a hotel, and a handful of campgrounds.
Cost: 500 MXN
Description: Family-owned and operated campground with large walled palapas and incredible views of the bay. Amenities include fire pits, grills, trash cans, wifi, dump station, flushing toilets, and cold showers. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
Contact: +52 615-157-1549 (Ext. 1014)
Bahia de Los Angeles
With the Sierra de la Borja backdrop to the west, views of Angel de la Guarda island to the east, and the Punta la Gringa jutting out to the north, Bahia de Los Angeles, is one of the Baja peninsula’s most beautiful bays.
Cost: 120-160 MXN (for 2 people)
Description: Family owned and operated by a family of marine biologists, this campground with cabin rentals is a 5-minute drive north of town. Stone-walled palapas on the beach, flushing toilets, hot showers, compost and recycling bins, fast satellite wifi, and an onsite restaurant with local craft beer and wine that accepts card payments. Reservations recommended. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
Playa La Gringa
Description: A beach boondocking spot a few miles up a 2WD accessible dirt road north of town that ends at an estuary with a rocky point. There are no facilities, but you can camp for free on the sand and rocks on the southern side of the point before the estuary. Do not drive onto or camp on the beach on the northern side or in the protected estuary (there are signs saying it’s prohibited). Sometimes locals come by and collect your trash for a small fee. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
The salt mining town of Guerrero Negro may not be the prettiest around, but its nearby lagoon is famous for being one of the best places for whale-watching in Baja California, Mexico.
Laguna Ojo de Liebre Campground
Cost: 100-200 MXN
Description: This waterfront campground is located on the Ojo de Liebre lagoon and is only open from December through March during whale season. If you’re lucky, you can actually see and hear the whales from your campsite on shore. Amenities include palapas, pit toilets, trash cans, a restaurant, a small whale exhibit, and whale-watching boat tours. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
Contact: +52 615 103 1137
The beautiful oasis town of San Ignacio is a welcome sight after hours of driving through the Baja desert. Wander around the colorful streets, kayak along the river, or enjoy a local date ice cream at the plaza.
Camping Los Petates
Cost: 250 MXN
Description: Shaded waterfront campsites under date palms along the San Ignacio river. Great spot for cooling off in the river and kayaking. Amenities include palapas, flushing toilets, showers (hot water upon request), tables, grills, trash bins, a restaurant, and kayak rentals. Located about a 15-minute walk from the town plaza. No hookups.
Contact: +52 615 103 5197
Some of the most beautiful beaches in Baja are found along the shores of Bahia Concepcion.
With turquoise water, white sand, and small islands dotting the horizon, this spot is hard to beat. These beaches are an off-grid paradise, so come prepared with everything you need.
TIP: Stop in Mulege to restock on fuel, water, and groceries before continuing south to Bahia Concepcion. The narrow one-way streets make this town difficult to navigate for big rigs. Park just before entering the town’s arches and shop at the grocery store across the highway.
Cost: 200 MXN
Description: Beach campground on a beautiful beach with easy access and plenty of space for big rigs, Class A motorhomes, and large trailers. Amenities include palapas, flushing toilets, showers for a fee, a dump station, two restaurants, a small store with essentials like drinking water and beer, satellite wifi for a fee, and kayak rentals. Perfect for people who prefer restaurants and drinks within walking distance of their camp and need wifi to stay in touch. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
Playa El Coyote
Cost: 200 MXN
Description: Long beach on Bahia El Coyote (Coyote Bay) with vacation homes on one side and a beach campground on the other. The only amenities are beachfront palapas, primitive pit toilets, and trash pickup. A large island with a hidden beach is within kayaking distance from this shore. There’s a small market and restaurant a 15-minute walk away on the other side of the highway. No hook-ups or cell phone service.
Located on the shores of Loreto Bay, with the Sierra de la Giganta mountains as its backdrop, Loreto is a Pueblo Magico and a popular winter destination for snowbirds.
It’s a colorful colonial city that’s home to the first California mission. From sunset horseback riding tours to snorkeling at Coronado Island, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Loreto, Mexico.
Romanita RV Park
Cost: 250-350 MXN
Description: More of a campground in the city with some hookups than a true RV park, this dirt lot shaded by palm trees has three large palapas, hookups, bathrooms, hot water showers, wifi, a dishwashing sink, and a washing machine. It has a prime location on the pedestrian street in the heart of town and within a 2-minute walk from the plaza and a 5-minute walk to the oceanfront boardwalk and beach. The sites are tight and the pedestrian street is difficult to access for big rigs.
Rivera del Mar RV Park
Cost: 100 MXN per person for dry camping and 350 MXN per site for full hookups.
Description: RV park is located in a residential area about a 15-minute walk from the Loreto town plaza. Sites range from dry camping to full hook-ups to full-time trailers. Amenities include hook-ups, fast wifi, multiple bathrooms, hot showers, laundry room, dishwashing sink, grill, and a shaded gazebo with tables and chairs. Plenty of space for big rigs.
Contact: +52 613 135 0718
The capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz is a lively city with lots of things to do, plenty of restaurants, and nightlife.
Isla Espiritu Santo is an island across La Paz Bay and a top destination for snorkeling and swimming with sea lions.
Playa El Tecolote
Description: Boondocking on the beach at Playa El Tecolote just outside the city and hiking distance from Balandra Beach. Tecolote is a long sandy beach with calm, turquoise water and a local favorite for escaping the city. There’s a row of restaurants, bars, boat tours to Isla Espiritu Santo and Playa Balandra, and watercraft rentals. Facilities include bathrooms for a fee, trash bins, and wifi for a fee at some restaurants. No hook-ups and little to no cell phone service.
A popular sports fishing town turned wind sports destination, Los Barriles is a colorful beach town that rivals nearby La Ventana as Baja’s kiteboarding capital.
TIP: Refill propane tanks in La Paz before reaching Los Barriles. There are no propane refill stations in town.
Playa Norte RV Park
Cost: 320-780 MXN
Description: One of the few beach RV parks with full hook-ups in Baja California Sur. Amenities include beachfront sites, hook-ups, wifi, bathrooms with hot water showers, laundry facilities, and plenty of trees for shade. There’s a small market across the street and it’s walking distance to the town’s main street with restaurants and bars.
Cabo Pulmo is an incredible national marine park in a protected and sustainably developed area located a 2-hour drive east of Cabo San Lucas.
Cabo Pulmo National Park is THE place to go scuba diving and snorkeling near Los Cabos and one of the most beautiful places to camp on the southern tip. The road to the national park is paved except for the last 30 minutes or so of dirt road until you reach the town of Cabo Pulmo.
TIP: Restock on food and water before reaching Cabo Pulmo town. The small “market” in town only has a few essentials.
Playa El Arbolito
Cost: 150 MXN per person
Description: This beachfront campground is not much more than a sandy parking lot, but it offers access to the best beach snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo. Amenities include flushing toilets, cold showers, snorkeling gear, and kayak rentals.
Tip: This campground is down a curvy dirt road which may prove to be too much for larger rigs. Boondocking at nearby Playa Los Frailes or Playa Cabo Pulmo is a better option for big rigs.
A palm tree oasis and charming colonial town on the Pacific side of Baja California Sur, only an hour’s drive north of Cabo San Lucas.
Todos Santos is a designated Pueblo Magico known for its art galleries, surf breaks, farm-to-table restaurants, and laid-back lifestyle.
Playa Los Cerritos
Cost: 200 MXN
Description: Beachfront campground in a sandy lot on the area’s best beach for swimming and learning to surf, Cerritos Beach. Amenities include bathrooms (no shower), a restaurant and bar, and surf rentals and lessons. Walking distance from restaurants and shops. No hookups.
With a couple of hotels and just a few restaurants, the small village of Cataviña in Baja’s central desert is not much more than an overnight stop for travelers along Mexico’s highway 1.
Located within the federally protected area of Valle de los Cirios, the main attraction here is the incredible natural beauty, including ancient rock paintings, massive gray boulders, giant Cardon cactus, otherworldly cirios (boojum trees), and amazing night skies.
Rancho Santa Inés
Cost: 150 MXN
Description: A working ranch with rooms for rent and a camping area in a large clearing with plenty of trees for shade. Amenities include wifi, bathrooms, cold showers, and meals prepared upon request. Hiking through the neighboring arroyo is a must!
Valle de Guadalupe
Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico’s wine country and home to the famous Baja-Med cuisine. Spend a day wine tasting and then enjoy a delicious farm-to-table dinner at one of the area’s many outdoor restaurants.
It’s located about 20 minutes inland from Ensenada and is the best place for camping near Ensenada. It’s also the last stop on our Baja California camping itinerary before heading to the Tecate border crossing.
El Valle RV Park
Cost: 500-700 MXN
Description: Owned and operated by an RVing couple, this beautiful campground is set amongst the vineyards and has wine barrel cabins available for nightly stays. Amenities include wifi, full hookups, a dump station, bathrooms, and hot showers.
Baja Camping Packing List
These are just a few of our top Baja California camping gear recommendations. Check out our Amazon Shop for a complete list of Baja California camping gear.
Satellite GPS messenger: This tiny GPS device is essential for Baja California camping. It can call emergency services and keeps you safe when off-grid anywhere around the world. You can also send and receive text messages to friends and family and check the weather in areas without cell service. It gives us peace of mind when heading down those long dirt roads to isolated beaches.
Rotomolded cooler: This premium cooler will keep your food and drinks ice cold for days (up to a week in colder climates). We use large blocks of ice in ours (available at most ice shops in Baja) to make the ice last longer.
Water jug with spigot: Essential for storing purified drinking water when camping in Mexico. This cube-shaped water jug has easy-to-carry handles and a pourable spigot for ease-of-use.
Reef-safe sunscreen: Please, please, please don’t use “regular” chemical sunscreen when going into any natural water source! The chemicals are kill coral, and are toxic to animals and plants. We only use mineral SPF because it’s much safer for the environment and our skin. This one is our favorite because it doesn’t burn when it gets into our eyes and rubs in easily.
Travel towel: This towel absorbs 4x its weight in water and packs down into its travel bag. It wrings out practically dry and has a secure hanging loop so it won’t fly away when the Baja winter winds hit.
UPF shirt: These shirts are the best for Baja sun protection! They are made from lightweight UPF materials (basically SPF for clothing) and have flaps for airflow that helps you stay cool.
Inflatable kayak: A watercraft of some sort is key for getting out there to explore the islands scattered off shore. We love this budget inflatable kayak that comes with its own pump and oars. We’ve used it plenty of times on the Sea of Cortez and even reached some of the islands in Bahia Concepcion. Inflatable stand up paddle boards are also a popular choice down here.
Snorkel and mask set: Definitely buy this BEFORE you head into Mexico. Adult snorkel sets are hard to find in Baja unless you’re in a major city like La Paz or Cabo San Lucas. We use this spray to prevent fog from building up on the inside of the mask.