I had heard such a great, glowing review of this place a couple years ago from my boss at the time that it was always in the back of my mind to go camping at La Jolla Indian Campgrounds. Finally, July 2011 was to be the moment! That there is a river and you can go tubing, that it's just nice. I arrived today, the clock is about to strike midnight, and it was so bad, I took down my tent in the dark and packed it up and left!
My cousin and I arrived, paid the $30, and searched just about every nook and cranny of every camp site but could night find a spot. We arrived around 2pm. That's not too late from my previous experiences but I didn't read the reviews here. I had previously called to ask if we need to make a reservation. The lady laughed and said they have plenty of room and that no reservation is needed. It was chaos when we were driving around. Every space was taken, even spaces that were not camping spaces. There were too many cars. It was like each campsite consisted of several vehicles. Hence, some perfectly good campsites had turned into parking spaces. There was just not an inch to squeeze in both the car and set up camp. I mean, the road to get around was even narrowed due to all the cars parked on it and people's campsites spilling onto the road, their tents included! This is a multi-faceted problem. 1. Lack of clearly marked campsites, 2. lack of staff when you arrive telling you that certain areas are full or advising on which site to go to, 3. lack of any map of the camp so you could drive to a specific area if you were directed to, 4. desire to increase profit and not just close the campground and say it's full for the day.
We asked one security guard in a golf cart for a suggestion as to which camp area might still have vacancy. We don't need to be by the river, which looked dirty anyway. He suggested going up the hill to Indian Flats and then maybe down the hill past there for a few spots. We circled and didn't have much hope. Indian Flats had some spots but it was out in the open without shade and we just had some hope we'd find something better. We managed to find one area that seemed like enough for 2 campsites if we squeezed in without becoming as overbearing as all the other spots we had passed up to now. We set up the tent, put out our chairs, then realized there was no picnic table. Fine, we can make due when we need to. We just kinda talked and hung out, trying to enjoy ourselves. We talked about the campgrounds. We had noticed several large groups at each campsite already, and now we were noticing all the partying going on. Several sites blasting their music, one neighbor had enough alcohol to open a bar (but there's a bar on site, which campground has that?!), the other neighbors were gone but all there stuff was out and very visibly there was a bong. Great, we are looking forward to them coming back, not! Just about them, one of the neighbors came up to us to warn us that we were camping in the area where the neighbors who are gone now had been parking, 2 large trucks. We asked if they were rowdy, afterall, why else should we be concerned? This area is like Montana and the rest of the campground is like Hong Kong, it was just that crowded. She said they were not rowdy, just young. We took that as a subtle way of we are either gonna be bothered by them due to them fighting with us or maybe they had been bothering people with their bong use. We had seen 2 large trucks with the back completely filled with kids and inner tubes as we drove around, not very safe, and thought it would be just our luck if those would be our neighbors. Turns out, it was different people but they showed passive aggressive signs by how close they parked to our tent, when there was still plenty of room. I mean, it was like they were going to run over the tent. But, they didn't bother us at all.
I set up an area on the ground to cook and we had some dinner. Before that About 1 hour to sundown, we realized we needed to cook before it got dark. We also noticed there was only 1 portapotty in the entire field of view yet the other spots we had passed along the way had 2 or 3 portapottys. This will get crowded! After dinner, we washed dishes and decided to pack away the food and any valuables into the car and spend the rest of the night in the tent. I opened the tent to go in and finally put on my pajamas when I spotted some ants in the tent. We had kept it sealed and it's a not an old tent so there are no holes in it. I asked my cousin to come quickly to look at these ants. They were fire ants. Not too many in the tent but we had to assess our options.
We tried to shoo out and kill the few ants in the tent. We then tried to figure out the source. There was a small trail on the edges of the tent, like scout ants. I tried to disturb the trail so they would stop scouting near the tent. Where is the ant hill? We have to find the source to know what we're dealing with. About 3 feet from the tent, my flashlight caught the mother trail. It was quite intense. It led up to the exact spot where we had been cooking. I did not spill any food. We had not seen this kind of ant activity during daylight. In the course of perhaps 10 minutes, they had overrun our area. We quickly decided that it's not worth trying to sleep in the tent and getting fire ant bites in the middle of the night all over our bodies. I was willing to do a very half-assed job and packing up camp and throwing it in the car. Afterall, the longer we are standing near and walking over fire ant trails, the greater likelihood of being bit. My cousin has a pretty bad reaction to insect bites and I don't want to find out just how bad my reaction will be to fire ants. We think we shook off all the ants, packed up, and drove away. As we were doing this, I heard a kid at the neighboring campsite complain to her mom about an ant bite. Yes, we definitely made the right decision to get out. It's just not worth it to camp there. Until I saw the ants, I thought I might come back on a weekday or during other seasons, never on a summer weekend again. I can get a table. I don't have issues with portapottys and next time I can camp when there's less people or near multiple portapottys. But fire ants are a real problem. I have camped in the national parks where you must be careful of bears. I have camped in other countries, I have roughed it before. I have camped where it's not even a campground. But I have never left a campsite without spending a single night there until today!
- Also Known As:
- La Jolla Indian Campground Hotel Pauma Valley
- La Jolla Indian Campground Pauma Valley