Laguna Campground

Viewing the Perseid Meteor Shower at Laguna Campground in San Diego County

Star travelers can find dark skies and solitude for stargazing only an hour away from downtown San Diego at Laguna Campground in the Cleveland National Forest. Go on a weeknight to enjoy solitary communion with the stars, or pitch your tent over the weekend to become a part of an outdoor community made up of campers at 104 sites, creating a mountain-party vibe.

As the sky begins to darken, prepare for a dazzling display of heavenly bodies. With the Laguna Mountain Range blocking light from San Diego in the west, and the sparsely populated Anza-Borrego Desert below to the east, the only major light source you’ll contend with is the moon.

Thanks to Laguna Campground’s 5,600-foot altitude, the days stay cool and the dark nights can be brisk. The campground has flush toilets, running water, and local firewood to purchase for the large fire pit at every site. Walk along the five different loop roads to get a look at the many campsites and wave hello to your fellow star-party celebrants.

Gallery image 1 of 6
Gallery image 2 of 6
Gallery image 3 of 6
Gallery image 4 of 6
Gallery image 5 of 6
Gallery image 6 of 6

By day you can hike the moderate Laguna Meadow Trail system, or access a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. For a challenge, venture 2.8 miles south down Sunrise Highway to the Monument Peak Trail for a 2.9-mile (round-trip) out-and-back that features beautiful wildflowers, incredible views, and a challenging ascent.

STAR TIPS: For maximum dazzle, you can head to a mountain overlook less than a mile from the campground, just across the street from Al Bahr Shrine Camp. Watch the sun set over the Anza-Borrego Desert as darkness claims the sky. The San Diego State University Observatory sponsors “Star Parties” for campers at the Forest Service Campgrounds in Laguna Mountain Recreation area. These gatherings happen most Saturday evenings during the summer months.

EXTRA TREAT: If you’re looking for a break from fire-cooked meals, head south on Route S1 for 3.6 miles to the Pine House Café & Tavern for beer, burgers, and live music.

Camping reservations. To reach Laguna Campground, take Sunrise Hwy. (County Rte. S1) 12 miles southeast from SR-79 or 13 miles northeast from I-8. Dog-friendly! Mount Laguna Observatory photo by Christian Ronnel.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Malibu Hike, Canyon, Beach

    Get a highlight reel of the Malibu coastline on a 2.25-mile hike through Leo Carrillo State Park, featuring a canyon climb, Pacific panorama, and a beautiful beach.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    The Highway of Waterfalls

    Ready for a totally refreshing road trip? Hit the Highway of Waterfalls! This stretch of road in Southern Oregon travels alongside the wild and scenic section of the North Umpqua River—and more than a dozen waterfalls.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Suspension Bridge Surprise

    This urban hike in San Diego connects two gardens by way of two spectacular bridges, including the awesome Spruce Street Suspension Bridge built in 1912.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Get Outdoors In Sonoma County This Fall

    Sonoma County's great outdoors includes hike-in beaches, hidden redwoods, and a new zipline-to-treehouse stay. Here are 5 of the best ways to explore outdoors in Sonoma County.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Ride and Seek

    Oceanside breezes, beautiful beaches, a car-free pathway for biking, and beer at the end: You’re on a roll! The San Mateo Coast was made for beach hopping and beer tasting …

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Redwoods, Beach, Banner View!

    Explore among the redwoods in Henry Cowell State Park on this magical 5-mile hike featuring the big trees, a beach, and a beautiful view from an observation deck.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View