A Rare Camping Experience

Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu has a limited access recreational facility only open to military and guests, so when the Green Generation Club offered a free camping experience there a couple weeks ago, I immediately signed up! I had never been beach camping before, so I was interested to experience sleeping on the sand.

Formerly named United States Navy Air Station prior to a merge in 2000, the Air Station has been running since 1942. The camping site is located a few minutes’ drive into the Naval Base, right on the beach and next to the water. The facilities are not fancy, but include bathrooms with showers, fire pits, picnic tables, trash bins, and barbecues.

I arrived later in the evening and missed volleyball next to the dolphins, but I immediately noticed that the wildlife was more abundant than I thought. As dusk rolled in, we could hear the last chirps of birds, the howls of nearby coyotes, and the barks of sea lions.

Camping itself was a great experience. Our tents were surrounded by water, with the ocean on one side and a saltwater marsh on the other. About 15 of us circled around a fire, toasting marshmallows, playing guitar, and sharing scary stories. There were not many other groups, and aside from a few rowdy campers later that night, it felt like we were on our own island.

We kept our tent top off so we could see the stars, and the night was a bit cold but overall comfortable. We woke before the light, and watched the sunrise over Mugu Rock. I drive past this iconic geologic structure quite often on PCH, but this was the first time I had seen it in the morning, and from a completely different angle.

Sunrise over Mugu Rock

I was also very impressed with the variety of water fowl we could see in the morning. Sharing a pair of binoculars, we identified snowy plovers, sanderlings, godwits, curlews, brown pelicans, great egrets, cormorants, and gulls. With limited public access, the wildlife seemed to be thriving.

However, the presence of humans was still evident, with the air base conducting military plays in the morning and aircraft running training flights. We ate a simple breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruits as we listened to the base wake up, watched the shorebirds searching for their own meals along the beach, and spotted the sea lions already lying out to soak up the sun on the rocks across from the marsh.

Recreation like camping is a great way to enjoy beaches, and it seems that every beach has its own unique experience to offer. I highly recommend spending a night on the sand if you’re having back problems. It won’t help your back but at least you’ll be distracted by counting stars and letting the rhythm of the waves drift you to sleep.

9 thoughts on “A Rare Camping Experience

  1. mikayla.mcculloh510 says:

    Wow, you were able to see snowy plovers? I didn’t know plovers nested on beaches here, especially since it is so close to the naval base. I wonder if terns also nest here. What a goldmine for biodiversity if so.

    • Tanya says:

      Yes we saw plovers quite close to us! I worked with them and the least terns over summer so it was nice to see them running around. But I can’t say whether they were nesting there, we just saw them foraging in the swash. They nest at Ormond Beach which is near by though, so it wouldn’t be too unlikely to find some eggs here in the summer!

  2. marissa.lopez792 says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, it seems like a wonderful experience and makes me want to go camp there to experience and witness such variety of wildlife ! We’re lucky to have such a unique camping ground so close by, your blog made me realize I need to take advantage of such privileges we have.

  3. danae.dalbey908 says:

    Oh I love snowy plovers! They are so cute. I have been fortunate to see this beach as well and it is so beautiful. I think that it is so cool that you were able to camp at this beach with the Green Generation club. I wish I had known about it as I love to go camping. So glad you enjoyed your time.

  4. April Hoberg says:

    This seems like an amazing experience; I heard about this camping trip, but I sadly could not attend.
    Many military bases protect the land/wildlife they are stationed on, and are careful of conservation. Is this naval base on protected land?

  5. michael.hernandez573 says:

    Suh dude! I like how you were able to experience some wildlife and a bit of the habitat and ecosystem working! random fun fact: since there is a naval base out there, a lot of “light discipline” is used, meaning that on a particular time of night when it isn’t foggy you can see the milkyway with the naked eye

  6. kathleen.gutierrez449 says:

    Hi Tanya! This is the very best beach blog I have read so far. Your describing of the camp out was almost like I had been there. Your pictures are wonderful. I have camped there once myself. My ex-husband had a work friend who was retired military and invited us to camp one weekend. We had a class A motorhome so no sleeping under the stars for me, but I do remember what a nice camping spot it was, secluded and serene. We also saw the monument that was built for the Alaskan Airline plane that went down into the ocean there years ago. Thank you for sharing such a great experience with all of us!

  7. bryan.ruiz708 says:

    Hi Tanya, your blog is absolutely wonderful! I learned so much from you and was able to connect to a lot of the lectures we had in class. The point of view you had of camping in this is really cool and gave me a better understanding of beaches from this lens. It was interesting how you had a clear experience of a beach environment such as the creatures and the geographic structures here. The simplicity of this beach reminds us of how important it’s to protect our beaches. I also liked the history you gave us about it being a naval base, makes me wonder if that has made any positive or negative affects with it being so close to the beach?

  8. erin.estrada770 says:

    Hi Tanya,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. It sounds like such a fun and relaxing experience you had. Unfortunately, I wont have the chance to go there, but I very much would love to go beach camping one day; so I really appreciate you sharing your time there. I think it would be amazing to fall asleep on the sand, to the sound of the waves, and stargazing! I’m bummed this can’t be accessed to everyone, but I’m glad the wildlife gets to enjoy the space instead!!

Leave a Reply