Ultimate Coachella Camping Guide
First things first – should I camp at Coachella?
Camping at Coachella is a completely different experience from staying at a hotel or Airbnb. If it’s your first time at Coachella, we suggest you camp. Get a taste of the whole experience, and soak it all in. However be warned that you will definitely need to sacrifice some creature comforts if you decide to camp! Here are some of the pros and cons of Coachella car camping:
- Easy Access – just a 10 minute walk to the festival. You can come back into the camp grounds at any time if you forgot something. Wake up early to catch an artist and come back and take an afternoon nap.
- Easy pregaming – Wake up and party – drinking, games, music and walk over to the festival when you’re lit!
- Save money – car camping is significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel or Airbnb
- Keep the party going – there’s tons of activities and after parties in the Coachella campgrounds.
- Temperature – it can get really hot during the day and sometimes really cold at night.
- Long shower lines – if you arrive during peak hours be prepared to wait 1-2 hours to get clean. We recommend showering at night if you’re willing to leave early. The majority of showers open at 7 AM and close at 7 PM. There are limited 24 hour showers available.
- Late night parties – campground after parties can definitely be rowdy. We highly recommend bringing earplugs.
- Must arrive early / leave late – it can take a while to check in on Thursday and leave on Monday. If you’re in a rush to get out you definitely should not camp.
What are the different Coachella camping options?
Car camping is Coachella’s most popular camping option by far, as it allows festival goers to park their vehicle alongside their camping space. This gives fans the opportunity to build their own humble abode among their campsite, and have their car nearby for easy access to personal items, food, and any other festival essentials. Car camping spaces are 30’X10′. While only one vehicle per car camp site is allowed, unlimited guests can dwell in your camping space. The more the merrier! If you plan on bringing an additional vehicle, Camping Companion parking passes are available for purchase. But if you want a space that’s close to all the festival happenings, plan to arrive early – car camp sites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Preferred Car Camping
Preferred Car Camping is an upgraded version of your normal car camping pass. Preferred Car Camping allows you to park in a reserved space near the venue’s entrance, nearby the Ferris Wheel. Coachella attendees can arrive at their own pace, since these spots are reserved. Plus, camping close to the iconic Coachella ferris wheel makes for a spectacular festival view.
Do you love some good ol’ fashioned camping? Don’t have a car? Traveling to Coachella from another country? Tent camping is ideal for building your own DIY oasis in the middle of the desert. These camping sites measure 15’X10′ with the option to include as many guests and tents within the campsite as you’d like. While pitching a tent may sound gritty, Coachella offers many amenities that are available for campers to use throughout the festival such as showers, free Wifi and charging stations, portable restroom facilities, medical aid, and even a general store.
Lake Eldorado & Safari Camping (Glamping)
Are you looking to go “glamping” this year? Coachella supports your decision, with options to lodge at their Safari Campgrounds or along placid Lake Eldorado. Fans can reserve furnished tents, yurts, and lakeside lodges, perfect for those looking for a little more privacy during their festival getaway. This camping option comes with additional perks too like shuttles to local supermarkets and the option to keep your car at a nearby off-site parking lot. This experience doesn’t come cheap however – Safari Tents begin at 9500 for two people.
Getting Coachella Camping Tickets
Coachella camping tickets are sold separately from the regular festival tickets. Passes are transferrable and easily sold. A regular car camping spot is $102 + fees, a preferred camping is 266 + fees. A tent camping spot (for those without cars) is $102 + fees You need one camping pass per vehicle – but you can have as many people / tents in a single spot. If you have multiple vehicles but don’t want to buy an extra camping pass, you can have extra car(s) get a Camping Companion Pass which is $55 + fees.
General Coachella Camping Tips
First thing’s first: Know who you’re camping with. That way, you can split up who brings what and save some money because, let’s face it, Coachella ain’t cheap. Each camping spot is 10’x30′, and you can pack a fair amount of people in there. For a better solution, have multiple people with their own car camping passes in your group. You only need one per space, so getting a second one doubles the number of people you can camp with, not to mention doubling the room to set up your dream campsite.
If you have multiple campsites, you’ll have to caravan down to Indio to ensure you drive in right next to each other. Otherwise, there’s no guarantee you’ll get spots next to each other. If you’re not leaving together or it’s a longer drive, set a meeting point at a grocery store near the grounds to reconvene.
Once you arrive, you’ll appreciate having that case of beer. The security line is just one big tailgating party. Guards are tearing apart entire cars, in some cases taking off paneling to check inside (so make sure you hide your stash well), which takes some time. Get out of your car and meet some people, and pray you chose the line with the lazy volunteer who’s not being paid enough to care.
You should fill up your gas tank again before you go into the grounds, since you never know when you’ll need to run your car and you can’t leave once you’re there. The campground opens at 9am the day before the festival. If you’ve done everything right so far (and if you’ve read to here, you should) and you’ve arrived early enough, you’ll get a prime spot close enough to the festival to avoid too much walking, but far enough away from the gates that you avoid the casual looters and the crowds of the main pathways.
Feel free to pimp your camp – put up strings of lights and inflatable toys — this will look cool as shit, but it’ll also make camp easier to find, especially in the dark when you’re stumbling back with a ringing in your ears. Also, stake down your tents and canopies! If the weather acts up like it did in 2012, it’ll be more than the answers blowing in the wind.
Once you’ve arrived at your camping spot, we recommend putting up the canopy so you can work in the shade. If you have multiple campsites, you’ll want to line up all your canopies to maximize shade. Stake them down. Next we usually set up the tent / sleeping area. Try and figure out where the shade will be in the morning and drop your tent there. Get your tables, chairs, and trash bag set up. Crack open a beer and enjoy.
After you’ve got your campsite set up, walk around the campgrounds to get a lay of the land. Look for bathrooms, showers, water stations, the general store, and take note of landmarks that you can use later on at night to find your campsite – colored towers, unique cars, unique campsite with flags, etc.
Every year there are stories of people who come to Coachella to steal things. Keep valuables locked in your car!
What should I bring if I’m camping at Coachella?
- EZ up / canopy – Specifically you want a 10×10 straight legged canopy. I bought the “amazon basics” one when it was on sale for around 70 bucks. You can even get one last minute in Indio but they may sell out. I consider one for each campsite to be mandatory or you will get roasted the moment the sun comes up.
- Tent stakes – I always bring at least 8 plastic tent stakes for my EZ up and tent and usually bring 16 to double them up if winds are high. Metal tent stakes are not allowed as they can injure the horses if they are left behind when the venue goes back to its other use as a polo field, they will get confiscated if security find them when searching your car as you enter
- Food and cooking gear – Propane is the only fuel allowed and it must be less than 20lb. There are many stove options on amazon but check your local camping store for discounts. My favorite portable stove variety is the type with two burners and a flat top grill. Check the cooler section for tips on managing your refrigeration. Personally, I usually cook a decent meal Thursday night then just have a snack in camp and splurge on food in the venue for the rest of the weekend, you can get plenty of awesome food for around 10-15$ per meal.
- Beer/liquor/mixers – if you drink. You are officially allowed one case of beer or box of wine per person but the guards at check in are known to be inconsistent with this, sometimes allowing more and sometimes less. Bringing liquor can be inconsistent but my method (which has never failed me) is this: empty out a plastic container of a similar colored liquid (iced tea, water, juice), replace with liquor and bury in the bottom of your cooler. NO GLASS.
- Beer koozies – A little insulation to keep your drinks from getting warm instantly in the desert heat.
- Some source of electrolytes – sports drinks, powders, whatever. Pedialyte is a tried and true festival favorite, chug some before bed and when you wake up to help stave off hangovers and dehydration.
- Cups / plates / utensils – No metal knives.
- Camp stove – if you plan to cook – only propane is allowed.
- Tent – I don’t consider this to be mandatory but I personally use one. Many people feel more comfortable just sleeping under a canopy as the tent can get very hot in the morning, others sleep in their car but that can have the same issue. If you have allergies or are more sensitive to dust you will probably want a tent to better avoid the dust, especially if there’s wind.
- Combination locks for your tent – this way everyone can get in without needing to hand off a key.
- Air mattress and pump – Much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, also keeping off the ground helps you stay warmer. Double check that the pump works and the mattress doesn’t leak.
- Rubber mallet – for the tent stakes. You can improvise but the mallet is much easier. Lend it to your neighbors if you see them struggling to pound their stakes with a shoe or something.
- Backup car keys – you don’t want to find yourself in this situation. There are locksmiths on site just in case.
- Jumper cables – In case yours or a neighbors car needs a jump after sitting for several days. Lots of people end up with a dead battery from sitting in their car’s AC but I consider blasting your neighbors with exhaust to be a dick move. Coachella does have people on site that can help with this but it can be slow and expensive, they do have AAA on site if you have that.
- Backup contacts/glasses – And a case to keep them in.
- Packaged wipes – wipe your face, wipe your pits, wipe your butt. Very nice to have.
- Toiletries – Towel, shampoo, soap, toothbrush/paste, whatever. The showers are fine but the lines are long unless you get the timing right.
- Flip Flops for showering.
- Saline nasal spray/rinse – Even if using a mask to fight the dust all day I find that something to rinse out your sinuses at the end of the day really comes in clutch.
- Lighting – headlamps make it easier to get to the bathroom – general lighting for the campsite.
- Cooler – I freeze ⅓-½ of my water bottles the week before the fest. It helps the ice last longer and eventually turns to nice cold water to drink. If you have a large group with multiple coolers you should split them into “frequent open” and “infrequent open” groups, this conserves ice as it will melt quicker if you are opening the cooler more frequently. Keep more perishable things or things you are saving for later in the weekend in the infrequent open cooler, keep things like drinks in the frequent open cooler. You can even get dry ice if you want to keep things frozen.
- Earplugs and eye mask – essential for sleeping.
- Folding table(s) – Ideally big enough for beer pong.
- Chairs – I usually just bring a mix of whatever beach / camp chairs are in my garage or my friends have on hand.
- Bluetooth speaker – Be careful as speakers that are too big/loud can be confiscated. As far as I know there is no hard and fast rule on this, as with many things at Coachella you may get away with a lot or you may get rolled by a power tripping security person.
- Camp games – cornhole, hacky sack, paddle ball, beer pong, etc.
How is the Security for Coachella Camping?
Keep in mind that the vast majority of security staff are just normal people working a temp job for minimum wages – waking up early, standing for hours in the heat, and dealing with a bunch of drunk obnoxious people all day. Most of the time if you follow their instructions and show them some respect you won’t have any trouble.
Your first encounter will probably be car camping check in where two to three people will look through your car and maybe give you a pat down – say please/thank you, maybe offer them a water/gatorade, and follow their instructions. Usually they will at least look through your interior (glovebox, center console, etc) and open a few bags and coolers but several times I’ve had them basically glance through my window and wave me through. At the other extreme I have seen people get their car absolutely tore up from the floor up, I suspect this is often due to sketchy behavior or finding one piece of contraband and looking for more. Try to avoid making yourself an easy target – don’t complain or act sketchy about having to take out/unpack things, don’t have obvious paraphernalia like bongs or “snuff spoon” necklaces, and have one representative who is at least somewhat sober to talk to security.
There are also security walking around the campsites. If you see people on police horses be very careful – these are usually actual police. If you get caught with any contraband just apologize and hand it over. Always de-escalate.
You will also have to go through a security checkpoint each time you enter the festival grounds from the campgrounds. This will typically involve a bag check, a metal detector, and a pat down. It’s usually pretty mild – try to find a line that is moving pretty quickly.
Keep in mind that in the area after the checkpoint there is usually security watching for people reaching into their socks / pants for stuff.
Coachella Camping FAQ
Are Camping Passes transferable?
Anyone can buy a Camping Pass. They are not tied to a festival order. You can give your Pass (spot) to whoever you want if you’re not going to use it.
Are showers private?
Separate male, female and all-gender private showers will be available. ADA accessible shower trailers will also be available.
Do I have to sleep in a tent?
No. If you are Car Camping, you may sleep in your car, on your car, next to your car or in many other creative sleeping places as long as they follow all camping rules and are within the lines of your allotted camping spot. If you are tent camping, you may sleep on the ground in your spot without a tent if you really want to. If you’re sleeping in your car, keep in mind that it can get very hot as soon as the sun comes up. Works best with a pickup truck bed or larger car such as a hatchback or SUV that’s easier to ventilate. You will want to cover the windows and possibly put a canopy over the car.
What if I have to leave Sunday night right after the show?
Cars cannot be moved from camping between 9pm-2am so you can either pack up when you get back and leave once 2am comes or pack up and move to general parking before 9pm and leave from there whenever (avoid this option if possible as it really fucks with parking on Sunday).
How big is the car camping spot?
The coachella car camping spot is 10×30 feet.
How close are the campsites to the venue?
All camping areas are adjacent to the festival site. However, comfortable shoes are recommended as the camping lots are quite LARGE.
Will there be a general store in camping?
Yes. There will be a General Store located in the Camping Center (as well as satellite stores in other Camping Lots.
Can I bring a bicycle?
Yes. You may ride a bicycle into and around the camping areas. No bicycles will be allowed in the Venue.
Where do I lock my bike?
Do not lock your bicycle to gate openings and closings or any art installations or it will be considered surrendered. Look for the designated bicycle parking on the festival maps.
Can I bring family to the camping area?
All campground attendees must be 18 years of age or older, with ID. Or, if under 18, all attendees must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. (See below for information on Legal Guardianship) Every camper must have their own festival pass.
Can I bring a guitar or other musical instrument?
Acoustic instruments only will be allowed into camping. Please be courteous of your neighbors and abide by the noise curfew. If security asks you to quiet down, please do so, damn it.
How many people can fit in a car camping spot?
You are allowed as many as you can jam in. Four people can fit comfortably but tightly in my experience but three is the sweet spot, you could possibly squeeze one or two extra sleeping in the car or getting real snuggly. Make sure you are measuring the footprint of your tents so they fit.
What if I’m staying at a friends campsite? Where can I park my car all weekend?
You can buy a companion parking pass. This allows you to park in a lot adjacent to car camping for the weekend. It costs $60.
How do I get the best camping spot at Coachella?
Get there as early as possible like around 4AM or earlier, stay nearby/circle, watch employee movement, and monitor social media for news of cars being allowed to start lining up. The timing of when this happens changes a lot and luck plays a huge part. Or buy preferred camping which guarantees you a good spot.
Can I enter the camping area if I don’t have a camping pass?
Yes. There’s lots of fun stuff in the camp center like the silent disco, yoga, dodgeball, etc.
Where can I buy tickets for Coachella?
Coachella 2022 is sold out, the good news is you can still purchase tickets on from trusted sites. You can view and purchase Coachella tickets here.
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