Camping in LA

Posted In: Blog, California, Destinations, People We Meet

People often ask about the places we camp. In truth, there’s such a wide variety that there’s no way to generalize.

Sometimes we dry camp in a national park campground like Gros Ventre in Grand Teton National Park. That experience is on the raw and gritty side, for all the right reasons.

Sometimes we overnight park in a truck stop or Walmart parking lot. That can be raw and gritty too, though for different reasons. (For example, the “wildlife” found in Las Vegas Walmart parking lots is much more frightening than wolves and bears.)

At times we want full hookups – it’s nice to shower at least once a month. So we stop in privately owned campgrounds that cater to short term stays. These places are often KOA or Good Sam Parks. The main problem with these places from my standpoint is their often ridiculous early check out times. I’ll never understand why some parks insist on applying hotel rules to RV camping. So we avoid these parks, for the most part.

Sometimes we stop in privately owned campgrounds that cater to long term stays, places where RV campers may live full-time in the park. Balboa RV Park falls in the latter category. As you might imagine, there’s a thin line between campground and “trailer park” (and trailer parks don’t have a glowing reputation). Balboa RV Park is quite unique – it’s a rather charming long term RV park.

We discovered Balboa RV Park several years ago when exploring our options in the Los Angeles area. We’d previously stayed in places like Malibu (overpriced and snobby) and Anaheim (a little too far south for our personal LA tastes).

Balboa RV Park is located in Van Nuys. You’ll never mistake Van Nuys for Malibu. It’s urban all the way. The park is positioned right next to the Van Nuys airport, and every couple of minutes another helicopter takes off. Yes, it’s noisy.

The surrounding neighborhood is a mixed bag. Van Nuys has a bit of a local reputation for some seedy areas, but it’s centrally located in the San Fernando Valley and a pretty good launching pad for visiting various regions of LA.

Balboa RV Park has been owned by the same family for decades. By their own admission, the park drifted for a couple of decades with little change. In recent years, the owners have taken a renewed interest in the park. The owner in charge, Steve Delaplane, is always darting to and fro throughout the park on his golf cart. He has taken a “hands on” approach to managing the park, and his work is paying dividends.

There have been numerous improvements to the experience, from art murals to landscaping. The facilities (showers, laundry, and recreational room) are quite good. Internet service is speedy if you are in an area of the park with coverage. (Improved coverage would be a nice development.)

One of the most unique services offered by Balboa RV Park: they now park your rig for you. Then they set up your campsite by handling the electrical and water connections. This is remarkable service that’s unlike any we’ve experienced anywhere in the United States. Of course one reason they handle the parking is that the sites are fairly close together. But it’s wonderful to enjoy a stress free parking experience.

But what’s really special about Balboa RV Park is its sense of community. It feels like a neighborhood. People are always out and about, and there’s never any shortage of casual conversation or tail-wagging dogs to pet.


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Essential RV Camping Gear

Scout365 – Our Inflatable Boat!
Counter Assault Bear Spray
Oxygenics shower head
Antisway bar

Inverter generator
LED spotlight
Sean’s Tilley hat
Merrell Jungle Moc shoes
Walkie talkies
Boeshield T-9 lubricant
Weber portable grill
Air-Dryr
OBDII code reader
Water “jerry can”
Eye masks for sleep
Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries
RV water filter
Dry shampoo
The Next Exit book

Airstream Essentials
Trailer Aid tire changing ramp
Britta Bella water pitcher
Pink flamingos

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