ORANGE COUNTY PARKS
O'NEILL: Located 12 miles east of the San Diego Freeway on Live Oak Canyon Road, the 1,700-acre park features 173 campsites for tents and recreational vehicles.
Facilities include picnic tables, barbecues, drinking water, restrooms, turf play area, a softball diamond and playground and a concession building, which offers food service, sells camping supplies and rents bicycles.
There are two nature trails, and oak trees provide plenty of shade. The camp is peaceful with the exception of one section, which is disrupted by nearby construction.
CASPERS: Of the 82 available campsites in the 7,600-acre park, located off the Ortega Highway, 32 are set aside for equestrian use, with two pipe corrals at each site. However, the park does not rent horses.
Facilities include several picnic areas, barbecues, drinking water and restrooms. There are more than 20 miles of trails for nature walks and equestrian use.
The park, secluded in the Santa Ana Mountains, is tranquil. Camping is attractive during the fall and spring, when there is water in the creeks and the sycamores are blooming, but it is hot and dry during the summer.
FEATHERLY: Located in the heart of the Santa Ana Canyon, just off Gypsum Canyon Road and the Riverside Freeway, the 700-acre park is mostly used by vacationers who want easy access to the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.
There are 217 campsites for tents and recreational vehicles, each equipped with a barbecue, picnic table and water nearby. Restroom and shower facilities are located throughout the park. There is one wilderness nature trail.
Those looking for a peaceful setting should not camp at Featherly because its proximity to the freeway makes for a noisy atmosphere.
STATE BEACH PARKS
DOHENY: The park offers all the benefits of a beach house but for a fraction of the price. Thirty-four of the 120 campsites are located right on the beach, and the rest are a short walk away. Facilities include drinking water, showers and restrooms.
Cool, ocean breezes in the summer make for a very comfortable atmosphere. The only drawback is that the campsites are packed into a rather small area. There isn't much surfing at Doheny, but there is surf fishing from the beach and fishing off boats in the Dana Point Harbor.
SAN CLEMENTE: Batten down the paper plates. The park--on a cliff above the beach--gets a stiff ocean breeze. There are 157 campsites, but the park, which has drinking water, showers and restrooms, is not nearly as cramped as Doheny.
There is a quarter-mile walk to the beach, and there is excellent surfing. There also is surf fishing or fishing off the San Clemente Pier, which is about three miles north of the beach.
SAN ONOFRE: The 221 campsites are parallel to the beach, which is about a quarter-mile away, and most have views of the ocean. However, trains running on nearby tracks create a noisy atmosphere.
Camp sites consist of a paved area and a small area for a tent and picnic table. San Onofre is one of the finest surfing spots in the Southland, and the surf fishing is good too. Facilities include drinking water, showers and restrooms.
PRIVATELY OWNED PARK
ORTEGA OAKS: Nestled among oak trees in the Cleveland National Forest, off the Ortega Highway in Elsinore, the park features a recreation hall, swimming pool, horseshoes, volleyball and badminton courts. Facilities include restrooms and showers. There are 86 campsites with plenty of shade and a quiet, cozy atmosphere.