Hidden Gems for the Adventurous: Lesser known campsites around San Diego
There are many places to choose from when it comes to beautiful campsites in the San Diego area. There are the popular go-to campsites like Campland on the Bay, or Santee Lakes Campground that are a guaranteed win. However, if you’re willing to venture a little outside of your comfort zone, you can find some amazing hidden gems that offer an experience like no other! Here are a few lesser-known spots to unwind for those who are “good in the woods”.
Please note that these remote sites are recommended for intermediate to advanced campers. These campgrounds do not offer hookups and may not have cell phone service. If you don’t have much experience with dry camping, be sure to prepare accordingly, and closely monitor your onboard resources to avoid any issues.
All three of these campsites are located within the Cleveland National Forest. Hidden right off Interstate 8, this gorgeous forest is well known by San Diegans, but seldom utilized. Our first two campgrounds are located on Sunrise Highway at the Mt. Laguna Recreation Area.
Laguna-El Prado Campground
The first on our list is Laguna/El Prado Campground off Sunrise Hwy 1 at mile marker 23.5 in the heart of Mt. Laguna. This campground offers over 60 campsites for RVs up to 40’ as well as tent only camping. This campground provides picnic benches, fire rings (conditions permitting), restrooms and showers. Reservations are recommended, but if you’re feeling spontaneous, a section of the campsite is set aside on a first come, first served basis. Laguna Campground is surrounded by a beautiful and lush pine forest where Industrious Woodpeckers and Blue Jays are often busy at work in the canopies. Depending on the time of year, you may even spot a wild Turkey. For reservations and information, visit https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232279
Burnt Rancheria Campground
Just down the hill from Laguna Campground is Burnt Rancheria. This heavily wooded campground sits at an elevation of 6,000 ft. The site offers spectacular desert views, and access to a segment of the famous Pacific Crest Trail which spans from Mexico to Canada. The campgrounds offer two wheelchair accessible sites, and over 50 standard campsites, many of which are reservable in advance. Each space includes a picnic table, fire ring and grill. Vault toilets and showers are also available on site. For reservations and information, visit https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campsites/65560
Cibbets Flat Campground
Head further east on I-8 to Kitchen Creek Road toward Cameron Station, and you’ll find the well hidden Cibbets Flat Campgrounds. This secret little spot offers several “double” sites with generously sized spaces. Perfect for a group of tent campers or a meet up with another RV. The Campsites offer picnic tables, fire rings with grills, and vault toilets. The campground offers 24 sites that are not reservable, so plan ahead if you want to snag a spot. Most sites have some nice shade provided by large oak trees. Firewood is often available from the camp host. The This beautiful secluded site is surrounded by mountains and is an excellent spot to view the stars. For more information, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cleveland/recarea/?recid=47426
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