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Close to Home Camping in San Diego

Close to Home Camping in San Diego

There’s nothing better than feeling like you’re a million miles away in nature yet actually only an hour from home.  Close to Home Camping can be easy, and fabulous, especially in the San Diego area where local adventures are year-round given the mild temperatures of Fall and Winter.  Here’s a look at a beautiful little getaway done over Thanksgiving that we were very thankful for.

Taking the Turkey on the Road

With family and friends scattered about the country this Thanksgiving, Todd and I decided to take my nephew, our mountain bikes and our Thanksgiving meal on the road.  We set three must-haves when planning our getaway:

  1. We needed to camp somewhere beautiful that we could drive to in under an hour
  2. We needed to limit our cooking to heating up a great pre-made Thanksgiving meal
  3. We needed to work off our calories the next day with a nearby mountain bike ride

With our goals set, we began searching local campsites in the San Diego area.  To our pleasant surprise, we found some available campsites at Dixon Lake in Escondido, CA. and locked in our site reservation online.

About Dixon Lake

Dixon Lake is a jewel in the hills above Escondido.  Campsites range from secluded and shaded, to wide open views of the lake, mountains or city lights. The campground is open year-round, with 24-hour accessibility.   Boats are available for rent at the Park’s concessions for those looking to fish or just float while neighboring Daley Ranch provides endless trails for hiking and biking.

The boat dock by the Lake Dixon Ranger Station

Finding The Perfect Campsite

We arrived at the Dixon Lake Campground around 4 pm and checked in at the Ranger Station.  The gal working that afternoon was so helpful and provided us with a list of all the available spaces in the event we wanted to swap out the one we booked online.  So we drove around looking for a site that had a great view, could accommodate our 21-foot Winnebago Travato, and allowed my nephew to be close to our RV in his tent.   We finally decided on campsite #9 which was perfectly laid out and allowed us to watch the sunset over the city lights below.

Setting up camp

The boys trying not to block the sunset in my photo 😂

Admiring the city lights from beautiful site #9

Our Thanksgiving Feast

Given how special this holiday is, we wanted to make sure our meal was a tasty one with all the traditional fixings.  So that morning we went to Lazy Acres in Encinitas and purchased all our pre-made favorites which required only some warming up in the Travato’s microwave.  The occasion called for proper plates and utensils, candles, some solar lights, and our propane-fueled Campfire in a Can for warmth and ambiance. Lake Dixon no longer allows regular wood fires, only approved propane or charcoal fires.

A solar globe light strung over our dinner table complimented the almost full moon that night

Food just tastes better outside, especially when there are great views and great company

Walking Off the Calories

After a fantastic dinner and dessert, we cleaned up our dishes, turned off the Camp Fire in a Can and went for a night hike around the campsite.  The moon was so bright that headlamps weren’t necessary to find our way around.  Such a gorgeous evening.

Hiking under an almost full moon

Calling it a night in a room with a view

Mountain Biking Right Out Our RV Door

After breakfast the next day, we broke down camp, prepped the bikes and headed over to the endless hiking and biking trails that Daley Ranch has to offer.   We did a fairly mellow 10-mile loop which had some rolling hills, great views, and very few people once we were 3 or so miles beyond the parking lot!

First things first: Coffee!

Getting ready to ride!

Views over Lake Dixon with its great fishing

A perfect day of mountain biking ends the perfect holiday getaway!

Our 10-Mile Daly Ranch Mt. Bike Loop

Planning Ahead: 
Dixon Lake Recreation Address: 1700 La Honda Drive, Escondido, CA 92027
Reservations
Campground Guide and Map
Daley Ranch Hiking and Biking Trails 

Another Close to Home Camping Adventure:
San Diego’s Pines to Palms

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