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San Onofre State Beach
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San Onofre State Beach
Location : Take the Basilone Road exit off Interstate 5, three miles south of San Clemente.
Parking : $6 entrance fee per vehicle.
Hours : 6 AM to 10 PM.
Facilities : Lifeguards, rest rooms, showers, picnic tables, and fire pits. There are 383 developed tent and RV campsites. Fees are $14 to $16 per night. For camping reservations, call Destinet at (800) 444-7275.
Contact : For beach information, contact San Onofre State Beach at (949) 492-4872.
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Location: Alongside San Clemente, San Onofre can be reached via the Basilone Road exit off Interstate 5 It offers 3.5 miles of wide, sandy beach and two campgrounds.

The last stop in San Diego County, San Onofre State Beach butts up against the Orange County line. It's a great spot for surfers and campers who don't mind recreating close to a nuclear power plant. The beach at the south end of San Onofre, known as Bluffs Beach, can be accessed via six numbered trails that descend steeply to it. It is a three-mile beach, with three miles of campsites running along the abandoned stretch of coastal highway above it There's nothing fancy about San Onofre Bluffs Campground, whose 221 sites don't receive much in the way of shade.

The main day-use beach at San Onofre is Surf Beach, a popular spot for surfing north of Bluffs Beach off Basilone Road. San Mateo Campground, a recent addition to the state beach, has 161 sites (69 with electrical and water hookups) and lies east of Interstate 5. A paved 1.5-mile trail leads from this campground to Trestle's, a famous surfing beach to which diehards willingly trek with boards on head, so outstanding is the wave action.

A few things about San Onofre might make some visitors uneasy. First, it's in the shadow of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, whose twin peaks are visible from the park. Second, San Onofre is surrounded by Camp Pendleton, the largest U S. Marine base in the country. In fact, the park lies on Marine Corps land that has been leased to the state. Camp Pendleton occupies a staggering 125,000 acres, and you never know what might whiz by this deceptively empty landscape. We were enjoying the view from a freeway vista point when an amphibious tank came roaring across the terrain, kicking up dust. (We also heard a few jets breaking the sound barrier ) Third, the area is full of rattlesnakes. They are the only venomous snake in all of California, but they do sink their fangs into roughly 200 unlucky Southlanders a year. Other snakes native to San Onofre include red racer, gopher, and king. Even so, the most common animal-related injury is the bite of the stingray, which is known to settle in the sand close to shore.

For More Information:
Contact San Onofre State Park Headquarters
3030 Del Presidente
San Clemente, CA 92672
(714) 492-4872 (San Onofre Bluffs)


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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