We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Sierra Camping in SoCal!”

Palomar Mountain State Park
Ranked #8 of 54 things to do in Escondido
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: This park's Sierra-Nevada like atmosphere is unique in Southern California.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
“Sierra Camping in SoCal!”
Reviewed March 2, 2013

We just returned home to Wisconsin after a weeklong camping trip in California. Palomar Mountiain provided us with wonderful memories and was a highlight of our vacation! Camping in the Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite areas...who knew you could get "Sierra style" in Southern California??

The wooded, cedar-studded Doane Valley campground is at roughly 6,000' above sea level and is really, really nice. I thought all of the campsites looked interesting, with steps and stairs to get to many of them as the terrain is varied on the mountainside. Each site had level ground for trailers and tents, so don't worry about the undulating landscape.

Flushing toilets and a clean showerhouse are provided!

Be sure to check out the Boucher (pronounced "BOO-ker) Hill lookout tower area for a spectacular sunset over southern California. After dark, we could see the city lights of the southern Los Angeles suburbs all the way down to San Diego and Tijuana. Absolutely spectacular!

One note about getting to the park...unless you're a thrill-seeker (like us (: ) be sure to take the "South Grade" road up to Palomar Mountain, and not the unpaved "Nate Harrison Grade"! We, being naive GPS-following people...took our GPS instructions up the Nate Harrison, and I was thankful I was in a rental SUV! You gain about 5,000' in under 10 miles of steep, breakneck, hairpin switchback-laced ROUGH and RUTTED road. I should've known when a sign at the bottom said "vehicles with trailers not recommended." It made for a helluva story and a laugh afterwards...but my girlfriend was NOT amused on the way up!! :)

BIG thanks to Ranger Dan for his hospitality! You made for a very memorable experence! We can't wait to come back!

Visited February 2013
10 Thank ErikAustinWAXX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

88 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Santee, California
Level 6 Contributor
127 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Great Family Camping Experience!”
Reviewed January 23, 2013

It has been a little over a year since our last visit to Palomar but this is still one of my favorite places to camp. Doan Pond and all the hiking trails along with the abserbatory make for a great family outing. For me, Summer is best!

1 Thank Dave A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level 5 Contributor
76 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Take a hike”
Reviewed September 4, 2012

Our hiking group visits this park at least 2 times a year. They have wonderful trails that are well marked. The views are breathtaking. The only downside is the motorcycle riders that also visit this very popular place. The riders are photographed at many of the sharp turns on the road going up/down. This tends to make the riders "hotdog it" around these turns for the best picture (I suppose). Unfortunately its very scary to witness when you're behind one of these riders. Many accidents have occurred unfortunately.

Visited June 2012
1 Thank Andrea V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alpine, California
Level 6 Contributor
244 reviews
95 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Wonderful camping and get away.”
Reviewed August 7, 2012

Don't want to go that far to get away, yet camp in the mountains?? Palomar Mountain is right here in our backyard and a great place to go camping. All of the campgrounds private or State have wonderful shaded area and shower/restrooms that are well maintained. As long as you are in the area you must go up to see the observatory. Have fun!

Thank Sunshine033
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Save Palomar State Park”
Reviewed July 26, 2012

The only mountain state park in southern California. Needs your help to maintain and stay open. 70 state parks will be closing this year due to budget cuts. Palomar was one of them. Visit http://friendsofpalomarsp.org/ to find out what you can do to keep this great park open and see a video on what's at stake if it closes!

Visited May 2012
2 Thank JulianneBradford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Palomar Mountain State Park also viewed


Been to Palomar Mountain State Park? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing