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The Laguna Mountains are a mountain range located in the eastern San Diego County of California. They are huge and run approximately 35 miles, with its highest point being on Cuyapaipe Mountain. They are also a popular recreation area and are also located in the Cleveland National Forest.

You may come across the park if you chose to follow the Pacific Crest Trail, although many people do choose to go to Laguna Mountains in the winter as well as it being one of the few places in San Diego country that actually gets snow.

Regardless, we are going to discuss some of the best campsites in the area. You don’t really want to wild camp in these areas for safety and also because you just won’t be allowed in certain areas. Keep reading to learn of all the best campsites in the area to pitch up under the stars.

Best Areas For Camping In Laguna Mountain Area

There are a few areas to camp in the Lagun Mountain area, you either camp primitive style in a tent, but there are also some RV camping grounds for that kind of experience as well.

Laguna Mountain Campground


This is a great camping spot to get a mountain getaway in, and is only one hour east of San Diego, California. Here in the Laguna Mountains there are cooler temperatures at this altitude that many campers will enjoy, as well as loads of unique natural areas and a huge trail system to explore.

The campground itself sits at 6000 ft altitude which is really beautiful but also means there is a cooler more manageable climate even in the summer.

The Cleveland Forest area that surrounds the camp provides plenty of shade and meadows and the area is home to plenty of flora and fauna to find and explore, much different to San Diego in the below areas.

The campsite itself has five ‘loops’ of campsites with the sites themselves being pretty close together. One such loop meets accessibility standards for those who need it. The campsite is equipped with some other decent amenities such as campfire rings, toilet restrooms that flush, and coin operated showers.

Note that the campsite itself is fenced off in certain areas with the goal of protecting the habitat of the endangered Laguna Skipper butterfly, so please respect this.

Of note in this area is the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area that covers the compaground. This is the ideal area for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking trails. You can also try the Laguna Meadow Trail system, or you could also choose to access a small part of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The latter trail runs 2650 miles from California to Washington, so only part can be undertaken.

If you are looking to spot some wildflowers on your travels then May and April are really good months to go,here you can enjoy many wildflowers as well as the pollinators that help them exist. In wet months the Big Laguna lake is wet and full of water and you can see ducks and birds and other aquatic features.

There are some fees worth covering, mainly that each single unit costs a certain fee per night. Plus, if you bring an extra vehicle there’s an additional price for this too. The car park also requires payment if you plan on using it. Generally you need to reserve your place online or by calling the park.

Burnt Rancheria Campground


This is another campground in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area that sits right on the Sunrise Scenic Byway. This is another great area that is even cooler than the other campgrounds thanks to the coastal breeze. It’s a great place to go camping and hiking and view the unique birds and flowers of the Cleveland National Forest.

While the Laguna Mountain Ground is open all year, this campground is open from mid-April through to October, although closing and opening dates can be subject completely to the weather. There are fees when planning on being in the park, but they are the same as the previous campsite and need to also be booked in advance.

Like Laguna Mountain Campground it has loops of campsites, but is a little smaller than the former campground. Moreover, while the previous park could be fine for RVs, this campground doesn’t have the amenities to support RV living.

Day hiking and picnicking are really popular activities at the campground. A short hike to the Desert View Picnic Site is really worth the journey and provides visitors with a pretty impressive bird’s-eye view of the desert that sits 6000 ft below. On clear days you can see right down to the Salton Sea, a landlocked saline body of water that lies on the Sand Andreas Fault.

The campground is much more wooded than the previous and there are lots of trees that provide some welcome shade in the California sun. Pines and oaks are common and knit themselves through the campground which is surrounded by an open oak grove with even more spectacular views of the desert.

Wooded Hill Group Campground

Wooded Hill Group Campground

Should you be planning on camping with one large group, perhaps taking a break from the city pressures, the Wooded Hill Group Campground is worth looking for. The whole area is generally made for large groups and is designed in this way, you could fit up to 110 people in the area.

The area has vault toilets, plenty of picnic tables, and a large group fire circle where you can cook and host people. There are parking spurs for trailers and RCs but the maximum spur length can alternate between 20 and 40 ft, and there aren’t any RV hookups.

The area is home to many oak  and pine trees like the other campgrounds which provide some welcome shade. There’s plenty of nature to observe thanks to these trees. If you really want to get out and about and enjoy some hiking your best choice in this area is the Wooded Hills Nature Trail.

You can access the Wooded Hills Nature Trail easily by going back the way you came towards the Sunrise Scenic byway. By following the trail you can easily ascend to one of the highest points in the area, and what is the highest wooded point in the area. Here there are unique birds and animals that enjoy being higher up.

From here you can see San Diego, Point Loma, and the Channel Islands on a clear day.

If you fancy something even a little further away than this, you could take a scenic drive down the Sunrise Highway, while waiting for sunrise, and experience some really amazing sights of pristine mountain meadows and vistas beyond your imagination, as well as pine, spruce, and fir trees.

Star Parties At Laguna Mountain

Best Areas For Camping In Laguna Mountain Area

One of the coolest things to do in these areas, whether with kids, a few friends, or on a date, is the star parties that are thrown by San Diego University Observatory.

You can take the chance to escape to one of these areas that is far away from the light polluted city and at the height where you can see these stars and other celestial objects clearly with the help of these astronomers.

The location of Mount Laguna has some of the darkest skies east of San Diego and is a great location to view and image objects of the southern portion of the sky. They usually hold these in the meadows around the various campgrounds we have described and they are usually totally free should you already have a campsite reserved.

Bear in mind that the dates and times can vary wildly depending on weather and lods of other things. It’s a really fun activity and is a great chance to see things you won’t see in the city, but is also ideal for any kid astronomers who don’t get this chance often. These star parties are really worth checking out.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area is a great place to camp and spend time away from the city. Whether you are in a large group having a party, RV campers looking to shore up somewhere pretty, or coming with family or friends, there are plenty of campsites for you to enjoy.

There really is something for everyone here and it’s a really well looked after area. It’s the perfect place for the summer as this high up is not as hot and the many trees that line the campgrounds allow for some decent shade.

There are also plenty of hikes and trails to take, of different difficulty, but also really cool activities like star parties held by the local astronomers.

Discover How To Use The Power of Authority Marketing To Make You Money While You Adventure!

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