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Activities | Camp | Camping | Destinations | Mountains | California State Parks


Clear views to downtown San Diego, the Pacific ocean spanning northward to encompass Catalina Island vistas, off the coast of Orange County; Dense fog is quite common on Palomar Mountain at any time of the year. With the Palomar peak sitting at an elevation of 6140' above sea level, the moist clouds get trapped up against the western slopes. The Pala indians have citrus groves, agriculture and a casino on the south slope of Mount Palomar. Temecula wine country, along with golf courses, are located on the north side of the range.

Palomar Mountain cabin rentals are available in the vicinity. This mountain location is known for the famous Palomar Observatory, plus it has recently been top rated for 'family camping' from some big outdoor magazine, so now you know - this area is not a secret anymore. If you want secluded camping anywhere around these parts, try the boulder and oak canyons of Indian Flats Campground near Warner Springs, CA.

pine trees
Palomar Mountain
State Park Ranger


weather palomar mtn

nearby towns w/ lodging:

photo credit - Morris Neer

palomar camping

hiking trails


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Palomar Backpacking

  • fire permits are required & in some seasons, no fires are allowed in backcountry
  • permits are required for overnight backcountry camping
  • SUV weekends check with the correct ranger district for all back country camping restrictions


Palomar Back Roads

Nate Harrison Grade is a dirt road that goes from pine filled forest of Palomar Mt. State Park down thru oak chapparel, winding switchbacks, manzanita bushes& end up in the rows of the citrus groves. Nice scenery over an agricultural green valley of the fast fading SoCal rural regions. This road is popular with the SUVs, as well as jeeps, & even the local "mountain boarders" (off-road skateboards). And for giggles, we found another local web site warning: Unless you're driving a super rugged vehicle, do not attempt to come up Nate Harrison Grade.

Camping State Parks Palomar State Park Camping National Forests

Palomar Campgrounds

campground  elev. spots veg toilet water contact
Palomar Mountain State Park 4700' 31 pines flush piped 760-742-3462
Fry Creek Campground NFS 5200' 20 pines vault piped 760-788-0250
Observatory Campground NFS 4800' 42 pines vault piped 760-788-0250

camp tip - surrounding areas also have camping, at lower elevations, like Lake Henshaw, Cleveland NF & Anza Borrego Desert Park

palomar dense fog advisory
Fog is prevalent on this range, with extreme limited visibility at times.


Primitive Camping open camping
This area is a typically dry SoCal region, with high fire risk, therefore no primitive car camping is allowed. The majority of the dirt roads are closed off to public use, due to the high fire dangers.

For the areas best 'primitive' open camping options, try Anza Borrego Desert State Park Southern California State Park

hike San Diego

Palomar Hiking

Day hiking in the region can be anything from a simple nature walk with the kids, to a full day peak adventure. Most trails start from State Park or the Observatory area. The west coast's popular PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) does not cross the mountain of Palomar, but comes near it to the east at Indian Flats Campground, near the community of Warner Springs.

best web sites for trail info:


sunset from palomar Some of the best San Diego sunsets can be seen from a top this mountain range. Views go from Catalina Island south to Baja California Mexico & maybe even sometimes the Salton Sea near the south end of Anza Borrego State Park.

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warner springs
Over looking Warner Springs Valley toward the West, with Palomar Mountain in the distance on the right side.
(click photo to enlarge)

Wood Nymph

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