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Don't let oil spill near Santa Barbara upend Memorial Day camping plans

Oil spill near Santa Barbara needn't wreck Memorial Day plans. @latimestravel lists various camping options

The oil spill about 23 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara has shut down Refugio and El Capitan state beaches to campers and visitors. Both will remain closed over Memorial Day weekend as emergency workers act to contain oil slicks covering about nine miles of coastline.

But Santa Barbara says there's no reason to cancel your plans to visit because of the oil spill off the coast that began Tuesday.

"We want everyone to know that Santa Barbara and Goleta are not affected whatsoever," says Karna Hughes, communications director of Visit Santa Barbara.

Campers who planned to spend the holiday weekend at the closed campgrounds will receive a refund from ReserveAmerica, the booking service used by California State Parks.

Where does that leave you if you still want to camp?

Displaced campers and anyone needing a last-minute reservation should check for campground availability at the California State Parks website. Gaviota State Park, for example, north of the spill area, still had spaces available as of Wednesday.

Or you may decide to go farther north to Little Basin, a 534-acre campground added to Big Basin Redwoods State Park north of Santa Cruz. It too showed availability for this weekend as of Wednesday.

Note that there's a 48-hour window for all state park reservations, so if you book Thursday, the soonest you can begin your camping trip is Saturday.

State parks also have some first-come, first-served campgrounds too, though most are primitive sites, sometimes meaning no toilets or amenities.

Those who don't want to let go of a Santa Barbara camping experience can upgrade with a stay in a luxury tent or cabin at El Capitan Canyon and nearby Ocean Mesa Campground. Both are open and have availability; call (866) 352-2729 to make reservations.

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