El Capitan Stole My Heart

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Glamping at El Capitan Canyon

Disclosure: One night complimentary stay was provided. 

I first found out about El Capitan Canyon on an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County (yes, I’m a fan) when the ladies went glamping there a couple years ago.

It was right then and there I made a vow to someday take my family glamping in California to El Capitan, which we did recently and I fell in love.

A blending of “glamorous” and “camping,” glamping is a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping. Mommy like.

The place stole my heart. It will become a family tradition. In fact, the week after our stay, we made reservations to go back this summer with my sister’s family and my parents.

I can get wordy, and this post could be made into a short novel because of how much I loved it, but I am going to try to stick to the facts and offer tips you need to know if you want to go glamping in California to El Capitan Canyon.

El Capitan Canyon Types of Accommodations

There are three types of glamping accommodations at El Capitan ~ Cedar Cabins, Safari Tents and Adventure Yurts all with varying prices to fit different budgets.

Every type of cabin includes running water and a bathroom. My kind of camping. The Safari Tents and Adventure Yurts do not have running water, but they all do have comfy beds and electricity.  All accommodations have their own fire pit and picnic table.

We had a Creekside Queen which was perfect for a family of four.  It had a queen bed downstairs, and a sleeping loft with two twin mattresses for our girls. It also had a small kitchenette with mini fridge, sink, coffee maker and microwave and a bathroom which included a shower.

The room felt like a nice hotel room, but then once you step outside your cabin, you are in the middle of nature.

We took our own food and cooked everything outdoors, we sat around the campfire, roasted s’mores and enjoyed the wildlife visitors. It really did feel like we were really camping, but at the end of the day, we could take a warm shower, wash off the camping dirt and crawl into comfy beds. Heaven.

Our Creekside Queen Inside:


The exterior photos are in the main graphic above, center and bottom photo.

The cabins all have different kinds of configurations as far as bed types, lofts, suites, etc. so I recommend calling to book a reservation so you can talk to an agent about what might be best for your family or group.

For small children or toddlers, I would not recommend a cabin with a sleeping loft. My girls (ages almost 5 and almost 8) loved the loft and were the perfect ages to enjoy.  But parents of young children will not enjoy worrying about toddlers trying to scale the steep ladder.

Sample Safari Tent:

El Capitan Safari Tent

Sample Adventure Yurt:

El Capitan Adventure Yurt

Things to Do at El Capitan for Kids 

There are so many things for kids to do at El Capitan Canyon, but the number one most important thing we enjoyed was to simply be in nature! We saw several skunks, deer, beautiful blue birds, hummingbirds and my kids got so excited. Nature really is the best form of entertainment.

There are several hiking trails around the campground (all of which are private and only accessible to those staying in the Canyon), and a very easy hike for kids, about 1.5 miles up a mild grade hill to see a beautiful ocean view organic garden and farm area with sheep, goats and llamas.

The walk along the top of the hill with the ocean view was spectacular.

El Capitan Canyon also offers free beach cruiser rentals for adults, and I would definitely recommend bringing your kid’s bikes, as there are great biking trails all around.

You can also hike down to the ocean at El Capitan State Beach through a lovely nature trail for kids. Although it is not a “play in the water” beach because of all the rocks, my kids enjoyed the walk and throwing little pebbles into the water.

As if that is not enough, El Capitan Canyon also boasts a year round heated swimming pool and huge playground for kids right next to the pool!

El Capitan Collage

The summer months hold several fun activities for guests as well including a Canyon Concert Series on Saturdays May through September, outdoor BBQ events, yoga and stargazing.

Tips on Visiting El Capitan Canyon 

1. Book early

They can book far in advance, especially during the summer months. But, we just got three cabins for a weekday stay in August, so there is definitely still availability. I recommend calling to book so you can explain the number of guests and talk through the sleeping arrangement for an accommodation that would work best for you.

2. Bring all your kitchen utensils

The cabin included a kitchenette, but you need to bring all your own plates, utensils, BBQ gear, etc.  I would also throw in some big Hefty trash bags as well.

3. Bring beach towels and/or pool towels

Shower towels, hand towels and wash clothes were in our cabin, but bring your own towels for the pool.

4. Bring your bikes or strollers

The Canyon is really spread out, so the walk from a cabin to the pool can be a trek for little legs.  If you have young kids bring your jogger stroller, or if you have bike riding age kids, bring their bikes for sure.

5. Be aware

It really is like camping, so there are things like Poison Oak (we saw a lot!) and skunks to look out for.  Keep your food all packaged up and don’t leave any food outside.  We had skunks visit our campsite at night, but we just all stayed perfectly still and they just sniffed around and then were on their way. I think if you just leave them alone and don’t startle them, you should be OK. Girls got a kick out of the skunks. They named her Priscilla.

6. The Canyon Market has everything!

The Canyon Market is incredible.  They serve a delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, you name it.  If you don’t feel like bringing all your own food, they have BBQ dinners available for sale to cook on your fire pit.  I also recommend purchasing an El Capitan Canyon souvenir mug which gets you free drip coffee during your stay AND all future stays.

I hope you get to take your family glamping in California to this magical spot. I just might see you there!


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  1. 1
    Susanne says:

    Sounds like a dream!!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. 2
    Jen says:

    Susanne, it is so amazing! I hope you have the chance to go with your family! The kids loved it; one of their all time favorite trips!

  3. 3
    kali says:

    This looks like the perfect kind of camping! I am going to book a trip for my family right now. Thanks for the info!

  4. 4
    Alex says:

    Love, love, LOVE El Cap! We go every year with a group of families in the winter (Dec – Mar)–you get 50% off the regular rates if you book in August.

  5. 5
    Jen says:

    Alex –
    Thanks for the tip on winter stays!

  6. 6
    Lisa R. says:

    So awesome!! I want to stay here!

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