The complete base guide to Camp Pendleton - We Are The Mighty
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The complete base guide to Camp Pendleton

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is one of the largest Marine installations in the United States. On fact, the installation spans more than 125,000 acres at the northern tip of San Diego County. It’s also the world’s largest U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Training Base. Known as one of the premier Marine installations in the U.S., your time at Camp Pendleton is going to be nothing short of extraordinary. Be sure to stretch your winds and check out all that the bustling large cities nearby have to offer. San Diego is a short drive, as is Las Vegas. Los Angeles is within driving distance, too! 

Overview

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is named after Maj. Gen. Joseph Pendleton, an early advocate for a west coast training base for Marines. Southern California is warm and sunny most of the year, making this an ideal base for anyone and everyone who loves outdoor activities. Be mindful of minor weather changes that can creep up out of nowhere. Expect winter lows in the 40s and summer highs in the 80s. Looking for more reasons to get excited about your new duty installation? Check out this list on why Camp Pendleton is the best USMC base.

camp pendleton fitness
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Albert S. Amero, a communication electronics maintenance shop chief for 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, discusses the new military occupational specialty 0919-Force Fitness Instructor.

Camp Pendleton Location

MCB Pendleton is located in Southern California in San Diego country. It’s bordered by Oceanside to the south, San Clemente and Orange County to the north, Riverside County to the northeast, and Fallbrook to the east. 

Directions

You might be able to access any number of the small, regional airports near the base, but the easiest thing to do is fly into the San Diego International Airport. It’s about an hour drive to base, depending on the time of day.

The LA International Airport is about 100 miles from base and takes about two hours to drive to Pendleton. 

From the south: Take Interstate 5 North toward Los Angeles.

Once you reach Oceanside, take the Camp Pendleton exit (Exit 54B), which will lead you right to the main gate.

Heading in from the north? Take Interstate 5 South toward San Diego.

Once you reach Oceanside, take the Oceanside Harbor Drive exit (Exit54C) and make a left to reach the main gate.

Coming in from the east? Expect a long drive! Depending on where you’re coming from, this cross-country drive can take up to two days. Pick up 40W and keep driving until you reach the coast. 

Transportation

There’s plenty of public transportation near the installation but no current routes exist to get you on base. Driving by car is your best option. 

Contacts at Camp Pendleton

11 Area Gym & Fitness Center (760) 725-6394

Barracks/Single Service Member Housing (760) 725-5171

Base Duty Officer (760) 763-1154

Base Operator (760) 725-4111

Chaplin (760) 725-4954

Civilian Personnel Office (760) 725-3794

Counseling Services (760) 725-9051

EFMP/Enrollment (760) 725-1966

Finance Office (760) 763-7081

Housing Office (760) 725-5995

ID Card Section (760) 725-2442

Information and Referral Services (760) 725-6090

Installation Personnel Administration Center (IPAC) (760) 7636-5203

Legal Office/ JAG (760) 725-6558

Marine and Family Services Center (760) 725-3400

MCCS (760) 725-5355

Navy Hospital Camp Pendleton (760) 725-1288

Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society (Main Side) (760) 725-5337

Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) (760) 725-5893

Outdoor Recreation (760) 725-7519

Parenting Support/Home Visiting Services (760) 725-3884

Personnel Support Office (760) 725-6662

School Services (760) 763-7385

Temporary Lodging (760) 725-5304

VA Facilities (760) 385-0416

Veterinarian (760) 725-3439

Welcome/Visitors Center (760) 725-6662

camp pendleton training
U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. Cole Henderson, 19, from Ventura, Calif., a student at School of Infantry-West, Infantry Training Battalion, fills in a machine gun emplacement as part of his training on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 14, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lukas Kalinauskas.)

Mission and Units

MCB Camp Pendleton’s mission is to operate as a training base. To fulfill this mission, the base promotes  combat readiness by providing training opportunities, services, and support. 

The host unit at Pendleton is the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Additionally, the 1st Marine Division and the 1st Marine Logistics Group are at Camp Pendleton. Several training commands and operating force units also call Pendleton home. 

Camp Pendleton History

Like lots of other DoD installations, MCB Camp Pendleton got its start during WWII. By October 1944, the War Department declared it a permanent installation.

Two years later, it  became home to the 1st Marine Division. 

During the Korean War, the DoD released $20 million to expand the installation and update the existing facilities. 

Since 1954, the base has hosted a variation of Basic Training for teenagers aged 14 -17. Called “Devil Pups,” the training promotes physical fitness and instills discipline while promoting patriotism and a love of the Marine Corps. 

In 1975, the base provided accommodation for Vietnamese evacuees during Operation New Arrivals. Over 50,000 refugees came to Pendleton in the largest humanitarian airlift in history. 

Since 2004, Pendleton has been one of five DoD locations that operate Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) air radar. STARS radar allows the facility to simulate air traffic for training. 

Currently, the base has more than 500 miles of roads and more than 2,600 buildings. 

camp pendleton history
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Willard Buhl, commanding officer, Wounded Warrior Regiment, and Jim Lupori, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), unveil a Vietnam war memorial during a dedication ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman/Released)

Things to Do Around MCB Camp Pendleton

You’ll never run out of things to do when you call Pendleton home! Because of its closeness to Oceanside, CA, nearly everything you might enjoy is within reach. Great beaches and dynamic outdoor activities makes it a great place to call home. 

Back in 1973, the San Diego Zoo gifted the installation 14 bison. There are nearly 100 roaming base today, so be on the lookout for them! In fact, MCB Camp Pendleton is one of the two wild conservation herds of  bison in California. 

Hotels

Best Western Plus Oceanside Palms, (760) 721-1543

Club Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort, (800) 989-1491

Comfort Suites Oceanside Camp Pendleton Area, (760) 722-8880

Courtyard by Marriott Oceanside, (760) 966-1000

Days Inn by Wyndham Oceanside, (760) 429-7003

Springhill Suites by Marriott Oceanside Downtown, (760) 722-1003

Food Scene

Craft beer, cocktail and coffee scenes are huge in San Diego, and there are a ton of great restaurants in Oceanside, too. This area of California is known for its fresh fusion cuisine. Be sure to check out the great barbecue restaurants that dot the area as well as the Mexican and southwestern options, too. 

Activities

There’s so much to do near Camp Pendleton! Be sure to take full advantage of the gorgeous sandy beaches and maybe finally learn how to surf. Or take a walk on the longest wooden pier in California. 

There’s plenty of year-round recreation to keep you and your family active and having. You’ll want to check out the nearby military-exclusive campgrounds. Don’t overlook nearby Del Mar Beach and San Onofre Recreation Beach – they’re perfect for making lasting family memories.

If you want to stretch your wings, world-class theme parks are just a short drive away, including Disneyland, LEGOLAND California, Universal Studios, and more.

camp pendleton sports
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Children participate in a Summer Baseball Camp at the Wire Mountain baseball field with former professional baseball player Adrian Burnside, July 12. Twenty two children took part in the four-day camp where they learned fundamentals such as catching, throwing and fielding.

Camp Pendleton Housing

As you might expect, single service personnel have to report for inprocessing after arriving at base. Marines will be assigned temporary barracks until permanent quarters become available. All single personnel E1 – E5 are eligible to stay in the barracks. Call the IPCA Inbound Center for current information. 

For everyone else, your first stop should be with the Main Housing Office. They’ll help you decide what housing choice is best for you and your family’s needs. Liberty Military Housing and Hunt Military Communities own and manage privatized housing for Camp Pendleton. As the MHO for more information. 

Schools Near Camp Pendleton

Because of its size, there are plenty of school options for mil-kids who call sunny Pendleton home. If your children live on base, they are eligible to attend one of five schools on the installation. These are not DoDEA schools but are connected to local school districts.

If you live off the installation,where you live will determine your school district.

Speak with the School Liaison Office form the most current information, including enrollment requirements.

camp pendleton marines
The 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Ronald L. Green, visits Marines and support personnel assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA., Aug 16, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell, Office of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps/Released)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Camp Pendleton famous for?

MCB Pendleton is home to Edson Range, a firing complex that holds four of the largest firing ranges on base. Edson Range also hosts the Crucible, a 4-day combat simulation. Participants get little food or sleep but earn the honor of calling themselves United States Marines.

Is Camp Pendleton for Marines only?

All DoD card holders can enter the installation. 

Is Camp Pendleton the biggest USMC base?

It’s the Corps largest amphibious training base. 

What is the population of Camp Pendleton? 

More than 42,000 active-duty personnel call MCB Camp Pendleton home! There are also nearly 40,000 family members in the area and about 80,000 retired military personnel live within a 50-mile radius of the base. 

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