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“Worst camping trip of my life--avoid at all costs”

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La Jolla Indian Campground
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Worst camping trip of my life--avoid at all costs”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2011

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!

Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
Helpful?
6 Thank yukiglasgow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaJollaMgr, Public Relations Manager at La Jolla Indian Campground, responded to this review, July 27, 2011
We wish to thank you for your comments and concerns, we sincerly apologize for your poor camping experience in July 2011. We take your comments and concerns to heart. We often remind campers/guests to arrive as early as possible, to claim a good campspot and to avoid the traffic issues that you described. The overcrowded that you described is monitored by the campground management and park police. We do have a campground full level and do not exceed that. Unfortunately you arrived at a time where there was limited camping and many guests. We again apologize for the lack of assistance and clear direction you did not get at the front office. We are in the process of creating maps of the campgrounds and to provide them to the guests when they enter. Most of our guests are return-campers and have a working knowledge of the campgrounds.

We are attempting to designate separated camp spots and to minimize the over crowding and traffic conjestion of our guests during their stay. We are a rural campground and the maintenance of our restroom facilities has always been a challenge. We encourage you to return and we wish to recommend to other guests to arrive as early as possible... as the waterside camp sites fill up quickly on any given weekend. We thank you for your feedback and we appreciate your comments, as well as the other comments to assist us in creating solutions to guest/camper concerns and to provide a better stay for our camping guests.

Campground Management
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72 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    2 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    2.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Carlsbad, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 4, 2011

This was a great trip! After reading the reviews I became very concerned about going-we had an extremely experienced hiker/camper, a sophisticated lady and my husband and myself all in our early 50's but up for fun times.
We easily avoided the so called "trashy" crowd down by the river (what campsite doesn't look trashy?) and camped in area 8. No running water but had a port-o-potty(very clean),small fire pit. Two party members were awakened by echos from others campers around 2AM still talking,etc.
Three of us did the tubing. We rented the tubes (bring 1 ID/license) and got dropped off at the beginning of the river. River? No,but it works.
A few tips would have been very helpful, instead you basically get a tube and read the signs about "they are not responsible...."
1. Some people get "tube rash" which i am still recovering from. Luckily I wore long shorts and a rash guard short sleeve shirt but my exposed skin was rubbed raw. the other 2 did not have any problems.
2.This is not for little kids.Many people had tubes tied to a tree so their kids could have some tubing fun.
3.When tubing, there are little drop offs that can really spin you around and dunk you. Don't forget, this is not a waterpark, there are rocks all over and you WILL bottom out, hit your head,butt and back.
4.Try not to go over "rapids" in a group-stay back until it clears out. We were in such a jammed up area when the "sophisticated lady" of our group slipped out of her tube and under me. I was screaming that she was under me and everyone was trying to get moving out of the way, but she was under water for about 30 seconds and extremely scared. When she got up her hat and glasses were gone but she was alive and to my surprise kept tubing!
The people and little kids along the banks were also a big part of the fun. Some kids were shooting us with waterguns, some were helping to dislodge us from rocks and some were telling us which side of the "rapids" to go down.
It was hilarious when we bottomed out in the car (as 1 reviewer said) and saw the beater ice-cream truck which looked like a 12 year old was driving it.
We only stayed one night and brought our own 5 gallon water so we didn't check out the showers, or any other "amenities".
This was a fun trip and we all said we would come again.

Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
Helpful?
5 Thank gramma-lizzie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaJollaMgr, Public Relations Manager at La Jolla Indian Campground, responded to this review, July 27, 2011
We wish to thank you for your comments and concerns, and thank you for your added information to our future guests. Even though the "river" is more of a shallow creek, it is fast and rocky in many parts and any water activity has its hazards and should be monitored for safety by its guests of any age. We thank you for your feedback and we appreciate your comments, as well as the other comments to assist us in creating solutions to guest/camper concerns and to provide a better stay for our camping guests.

Campground Management
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwalk
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 27, 2010

this is by far one of the best trips I have taken with family and friends. We had 4 adults and 6 kids ages 9,9,6,6,5, and 5. Innertubing was the best part and by the end of our trip everyone was yelling keep your butt up!!!! you will get bumps and bruises and scrapes but when you retell the story you are laughing so hard your face will hurt! I came here as a child in the 80's and figured now was the time to take my kids. We used the RV hook-ups, there is no sewer but a dump station on your way out. Everyday there were volunteers picking up trash and dumping the port a potties. literally volunteers were in the bushes picking up trash. I have never seen a campground so clean. We went sunday thru wednesday and felt like we were the only ones at the campground. While tubing other campers would help catch kids if they got to far ahead of us. Everyone was very nice. You will leave the campground dirty and tired but SO worth it!!!! Can't wait to come back next year!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank halzoemar13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
diamondbar
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 9, 2010

Beautiful area , but way too many people on weekends. The no refund policy and the lack of not having defined camp sites makes this place a ZOO on weekends we watched a group of "campers" force a family out of their campsite! they just set up right in the middle of their camp! the poor folks were outnumbered and had to leave.
The camp had porta potties but not enough and they quickly became disgusting, someone actually smeared the inside with some bodily excretion.
The noise was indescribable and lasted till 3:00 AM. and started again at 5:30AM then our neighbor "campers" sent their kids to play in our camp site! they already knew where to play as they were seen in our camp at 4:00am looking through our camp and looking in to the cars with flashlights! Good thing we locked up and chained down everything that we could.

I have mixed emotions about this place. I believe that I would only recommend it if you plan on camping Monday through Wednesday

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank crustyoldcamper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Pauma Valley hotels

palm springs
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 24, 2010

La Jolla is a great campground if you like to live a little and party

It always gets me when these uptight so called campers complain about noise and late nights.

Most people only go camping a handful of times a year and they go to have fun, not to go to bed at 10pm and be quiet.

You have to live a little not be such a drone.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Ramien
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 1, 2010

To All Campers

This is a campground so be prepeared to camp.
ITS Not a Hotel resort
1. Plan and arrive early ( weekdays best )
2. Water spots ( best camp spots) are taken quickly so arrive ahead of crowds
3. Campground is rural, so be ready to camp rough
4. Park Police need to be called when a distrubance happens, report everything to security and Park Police... they do patrol all the time. Rules are just like at HOME !
5. There are laws, Park Police arrest and give tickets, so NO drinking and driving and NO open beers on the roads and in the water. No fighting and NO loud music.
6. NO GLASS or Bottles they will be taken away if your arrive with glass or seen with.
7. River is a creek, not to deep but fast water WATCH YOUR LITTLE KIDS ! ROCKS !
8. Noise and bad campers must be reported police will be kicked out, we asked and got a noisy group of kids kicked out same day!
9. Crowded so watch your stuff and cars on tight roads and teenagers
10. NO hot Showers and restrooms and messy and stink ( portpottys arent much better)
11. Nice place when you have a great spot, most places are full from top to bottom so stake out your land quick.
12. Kids all over walking on road and tubing, so watch out.
This place has really improved though, we have been there since 2005 and the park police have really cleaned up the place since 2008. Yeah!! Remember readers it is a campground in dirt with trees and water, the rest is alot of people at times but still fun. You make it what it is. We learned its better to report the noise and drunks to the front office and call park police and have them removed then to wait and deal with it later A weekend could be $50 to stay and with gas and other camping stuff over hunderds, so its worth it to have fun and relax. Rough camping but FUN.
Gloria

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Gloria1965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palm Springs, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 28, 2010

If you are looking for a campground to get away from the the urbane and get connected to nature, then stay away. The land itself is beautiful, but the lack of order and cleanliness is terrible at best if not atrocious. The price was reasonable, based from the website and from calling the office you would be able to camp in a private site next to the river/stream. You would have a trading post nearby and facilities that included flush toilets and showers among other things. Sounds great, right?

Well, the campground is in disarray. No set campsites, and as the receipt and signs said " NO REFUNDS" ..."wherever you can find a spot that is not blocking traffic is good". As we drove up the river and notice that people and families were camping right next and on top of each other. We realized the water was out of the question...Too bad I was looking forward to just relaxing on the water. We decided to look into area 8 and 9 because that would be secluded. Nice shaded area away from the crowd, so far so good. We did not mind the crowded park, nor the cars going in and out of the areas. Night time came and that's when it got bad...REALLY BAD. Supposedly quiet hours where at 9:00pm. or 10:00 depending on the pamphlet.

To sum it up you had neighboring campers setting up at midnight and 1:30 and blaring their stereos and just being loud and inconsiderate until 2- 3 in the morning. Where is the security at night when it counts? All day long they drove up in down the campsite in their lawnmower sounding golf carts but you did not hear a peep as they were never seen after the sun went down. First thing in the morning I complained to the front gate check-in. She said there were many complaints and already knew about it and that they were going to wait until 10:00 am and have security talk to them and possibly escort out. Well the time came and went and decided to look for another site. The available spaces were either in the sun or they were so secluded that all you saw was used toilet paper on the ground I don't think that was too sanitary and really didn't want to see that.

Overall The restrooms were porta/potties the flush restrooms were dirty and the showers were disgusting. Oh ya and they lied ...they never talked to the inconsiderate neighboring campers, I don't think they ever intended too. We broke camp and considered the $25 lost a a small price for a lesson learned. This was not a campground, it was a park ...I don't recommend it unless you want to experiece a song years ago from Lighter shade of Brown "on a Sunday afternoon" pretty much what you would get.




.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank MarPAC92263
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LajollaPD, General Manager at La Jolla Indian Campground, responded to this review, December 7, 2010
We wish to thank you for your comments and concerns, we sincerly apologize for your poor camping experience in 2010. We recently changed our camp management and are re-structuring for 2011 camping season. We want to advise all campers that they can report ANY and ALL complaints to the Park Police 24-7 and have any concerns or disturbances remedied. We do have park police officers and park security that patrol and respond to any calls for service, However we will address the lack of security support you mentioned with the park police staff and make sure the noise disturbances are handled correctly. We take our public safety and security very seriously.

We are attempting to designate separated camp spots and to minimize the over crowding and traffic conjestion of our guests during their stay. We are a rural campground and the maintenance of our restroom facilities has always been a challenge. We encourage you to return and we wish to recommend to other guests to arrive as early as possible... as the waterside camp sites fill up quickly on any given weekend. We thank you for your feedback and we appreciate your comments, as well as the other comments to assist us in creating solutions to guest/camper concerns and to provide a better stay for our camping guests.

Campground Management
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Jolla Indian Campground

Property: La Jolla Indian Campground
Address: 22000 Highway 76, La Jolla Indian Reservation, Pauma Valley, CA 92061-9721
Location: United States > California > Pauma Valley
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Pauma Valley
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 400
Also Known As:
La Jolla Indian Campground Hotel Pauma Valley
La Jolla Indian Campground Pauma Valley

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