On an island where 90% of the activity, including camping, takes place on or near the beach, Blackjack Campground stands alone. In the shadow of Catalina’s highest peak, Mt. Orizaba (2097ft), Blackjack campgrounds are about 1600ft above sea level, nestled amongst the eucalyptus and pine trees.
The experience here is quite different that other campsites on the island, in that it is more remote, no bars or shops for miles, and the views from the site are dominated by rolling terrain, canyons, and panoramic views out to sea. As a rule, the experience here is tranquil, and you’ll find most campers are like minded – looking to enjoy nature and a peaceful respite from busy lives back on the mainland.
The hills and ravines around Blackjack Campground were once the site of mining operations for gold, silver, copper and lead. You can find remnants of an old cable car system not far from the campgrounds. Mining operations ended in 1927 due to declining prices, and the relatively poor quality of minerals extracted from the island.
There are amenities available at the campground like fresh water, cold showers, chemical toilets, lockers for your valuables. You can purchase firewood at the time of check in – and it will be waiting for you at your site.
You are required to check in before heading to your campsite, which you can do at Two Harbors Visitor Services (white building at the end of the pier – call (310) 510 8368), or in Avalon at Island Plaza. There is a 10-day maximum stay at Blackjack campground, and all other campgrounds on Catalina Island – just in case you didn’t know!
There are a total of eleven individual campsites, each capable of sleeping a party of eight or less comfortably. Each campsite has its own picnic table, barbeque stand and fire ring, and sunshade or ample shade from the adjacent trees. There are no tent cabins available for rent here, but you can rent camping equipment like 4 or 2 person tents, sleeping bags and mats, stoves, lanterns and camping supplies from Two Harbors Visitor Services (white building at the end of the pier), call (310) 510 8368.
Campsites #2, and #3 get the best reviews, boasting views of the canyon, the morning sunrise, more seclusion from the rest of the campground, and the showers and bathrooms. Book #2 or #3 if you can!
How to Get to Blackjack Campgrounds
Getting there can be done in a number of ways, Black campgrounds are quite accessible and family friendly. You can hike in, take the airport shuttle from Avalon, or Safari Bus. The hike from Avalon is about 12 miles to the trail head to the campground, which is about another 1.5 miles (about a 4 hour hike). On the hike in, you are probably going to encounter Catalina’s wild buffalo, in fact, they will often block the trail for a few minutes until you can convince them to move on!
Hiking Trails to Blackjack Campground From Avalon
There are two trail heads in Avalon that will get you there. The first is the true trail head at Renton Mine Road. Due to road closures on Pebbly Beach Road, that portion of the Trans Catalina Trail has to be accessed from Wrigley Road. From Conservancy House, go south on Clarissa, hang a left on Beacon, go right on Clemente then hang another left on Wrigley Road. From there, you follow the road past the Inn at Mt. Ada (the house Wrigley built for his wife – now converted to a B&B), then take a right on Renton Mine Road. A TCT sign marks the Road. Renton Mine Road turns into East End Road which becomes Divide Road.
The second option is to leave from Hermit Gulch Campgrounds, which is located on Avalon Canyon Road on your right as you head up towards the famous Wrigley Botanical Gardens. Follow the Hermit Gulch trail up Divide Road. Here you Pick up the Trans Catalina Island Trail which you follow through Haypress, past Middle Ranch Road, Past Cape Canyon, and into the Blackjack Campgrounds.
You’ll need a hiking permit before you hit the trails – you can get a hiking permit for Catalina Island from the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Here is a fairly comprehensive blog post by a group that did the hike to Blackjack campground, on to Little Harbor (7 miles), returned by Safari Bus to Blackjack Campground, and finished with a 12 mile hike to Two Harbors, read it here.
Blackjack Campground Fees and Reservations
Prices vary depending on seasons and time of week.
Summer Season: 6/12 through 9/5
Midweek is $14.00/night for adults and $7.00/night for children. Weekends are $16/night for adults and $8.00/night for children.
Winter Season: 1/1 through 3/11 and 10/16 through 3/10
Midweek is $12.00/night for adults and $6.00/night for children. Weekends are $12/night for adults and $6.00/night for children.
Spring Season: 3/12 through 6/11 and 9/6 through 10/15
Midweek is $12.00/night for adults and $6.00/night for children. Weekends are $14/night for adults and $7.00/night for children.
Call (310) 510 TENT to book your reservation. You may specify which campsite you’d like to reserve. Groups of 20 or more should call (310) 510 8368 ext. 1414. Please note that reservations booked over the phone are subject to a $25.00 administration fee. You can also book online (free!) at www.visitcatalinaisland.com.
Video: Blackjack Campground
I wish I had a better one for you! But, its short and it does show some pretty good shots of campground.
Blackjack Campgrounds Reviews
In general, Blackjack campgrounds get good reviews. The setting is quite beautiful, and the views of the island and out to sea are well worth the trip. The facilities are comparable to any of the other campgrounds on Catalina Island, with a Park Ranger available to help out if needed.
The most common gripes seem not to be with the campground itself, but with the hike to or from Avalon. Outdoor enthusiasts may be disappointed with having to share much of the hike with buses, since much of it is actually the main road to the airport in the sky. From the campground you can see power lines, it’s true, as is evidenced in the photo above, and they are also visible during the hike in from Avalon.
Other Campgrounds on Catalina Island
There are a total of 5 campgrounds on Catalina Island, and 9 boat-in only campsites. Use the links below to find out about fees, reservations, rules, and some of Catalina’s best kept secret camping spots!
- Blackjack Campground Catalina Island
- Hermit Gulch Campground Catalina Island
- Little Harbor Campground Catalina Island
- Parsons Landing Campground Catalina Island
- Two Harbors Campground Catalina Island
- Boat-in Only Campsites on Catalina Island