Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

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About Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

If you haven’t heard of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, my dear friend, your outdoor experiences have been sorely lacking. We’re not messing around, folks. This baby is huge - 24,700 acres to be exact - and there’s a lot goin’ on inside. Towering mountains (with the second tallest peak in San Diego county) covered in oak trees, rivers and creeks, a nearby lake, over 100 miles of trails for you and your horses, this park offers a welcomed break from city life in neighboring San Diego and a different environment than the surrounding SoCal deserts and beaches. It truly has something for everyone, with campsites ranging from primitive isolated hike-ins to huge group sites. You won’t regret exploring this park and finding your new favorite getaway spot, no matter what kind of camping experience you’re looking for.

Campgrounds in Cuyamaca

Green Valley Campground

1. Green Valley Campground

Green Valley will be perfect for those of you looking to chill out near the water on a hot day. The campground has a creek running through it, and...

41 Saves
Paso Picacho Campground

2. Paso Picacho Campground

94% Recommend (8 Responses)

Paso Picacho is a pretty sweet location as far as campgrounds go. Only two miles from Lake Cuyamaca down below, several of the park’s most popular...

Jason
Jason: Stayed here for two nights. Pretty basic campground with some nice trees. For local San Diego camping it was decent. The...
31 Saves
Arroyo Seco Environmental Camp

3. Arroyo Seco Environmental Camp

So you’re stuck in traffic again in San Diego. Big surprise. You’re pretty angry with the human beings around you, with the paved roads (who’s idea...

17 Saves
Granite Springs Environmental Camp

4. Granite Springs Environmental Camp

This is a hike-in, primitive campsite for those of you who would prefer to rough it. It’s got 4 tent sites and horse corrals, in case you’d rather...

3 Saves
Green Valley Horse  Camp

5. Green Valley Horse Camp

100% Recommend (4 Responses)

Green Valley will be perfect for those of you looking to chill out near the water on a hot day. The campground has a creek running through it, and...

2 Saves
Group Camp

6. Group Camp

Group Campsites A & B are only a short walk from Cuyamaca Lake with plenty of showers and restrooms to go around. The beautiful Paso Nature...

1 Save
Los Vaqueros Group Horse Camp

7. Los Vaqueros Group Horse Camp

Los Vaqueros is the perfect campground for equestrians. It has room for up to 45 horses, along with picnic tables, barbeque grills, bathrooms,...

Photos

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Cuyamaca
hipcamper
September 1st, 2015
Cuyamaca
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015
Cuyamaca
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015
Cuyamaca
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015
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Hipcamp Staff's photo at Cuyamaca
Hipcamp Staff's photo at Cuyamaca
Eric E.'s photo at Cuyamaca
David Y.'s photo at Cuyamaca
Jason Z.'s photo at Cuyamaca
Jason Z.'s photo at Cuyamaca

9 Reviews

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Hipcamper A
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Make those reservations in advance, guys. This is a popular one, especially on weekends in the summer and fall months!

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Hipcamper A
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Check out the vistas after a rainstorm for the clearest, most panoramic view.

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Hipcamper A
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The trail up Look Out Fire Road is a must-see when you visit Cuyamaca. On a clear day, you get a 360-degree view of the ocean, desert, Salton Sea, and neighboring Mexico!

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Hipcamper A
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Consider yourself a history buff? Cuyamaca is located in an old gold mining region and has the Stonewall Mine site for you to check out.

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Hipcamper A
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If you value your personal space, Green Valley Campground will probably be your favorite. Its campsites are the most spaced out in the park.

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Hipcamper A
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Not into the whole sleeping-in-a-tent thing? No judgement here! Lake Cuyamaca offers cabins and condominiums so you can enjoy the outdoors by day, and retreat inside the comfort of a log cabin by night. Check the Lake Cuyamaca website for more bookin’ info.

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Hipcamper Tanya

We love Cuyamaca in the spring. Always stay at Paso Picacho and visit Green Valley during the day. The short hike to the creek is great and lots of fun to cool off in the water, but staying at Green Valley looks rough. Not much shade and out in the open. Paso, on the other hand, is much woodsier. Bathrooms are well maintained. Bring quarters. Sites range from amazing (secluded and just the right balance of shade and sun) to barren squirrel infested wasteland. The sites get renumbered pretty often, so it's a bit of a coin toss. Still, we go every year. Good for kids and they're not too strict about noise- as we prefer.

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Hipcamper Jason

Stayed here for two nights. Pretty basic campground with some nice trees. For local San Diego camping it was decent. The area we were in was very smokey and dusty. We had a tough time with the air as the wind wasn't blowing. Once we drove over to the lake it was much nicer. Campground itself is fine if you aren't sensitive to smoke.

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Hipcamper Max

We found site 85 to be the most exposed site to the wilderness.

History of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

The ancestors of today’s Kumeyaay Indians occupied the Cuyamaca mountains from antiquity into the historic period. Their village sites are located throughout the state park, including Ah-ha’
Kwe-ah-mac’ (”what the rain left behind”), Iguai’ (“the nest”), Wa-Ku-Pin’ (“warm house”), Mitaragui’ (“crooked land”), Pilcha’ (“basket bush”) and Guatay’ (“big house”). Historic
mention of the Cuyamaca Kumeyaay begins in 1782 when Spanish Lt. Col. Pedro Fages noted that the villagers “approached me very pleasantly and I gave them some beads.” However, the Kumeyaay did not want to give up their independence, and resisted missionization. In 1837 a Mexican expedition attacked the villagers of Ah-ha’ Kwe-ah-mac’ after the Kumeyaay raided two
ranchos to the south, eventually exacting a promise from the Kumeyaay to leave the settlers alone. Augustin Olvera of Los Angeles obtained the Rancho Cuyamaca grant in 1845. Olvera intended to harvest timber but his contractor, Cesario Walker “being afraid of the Indians, who made a kind of revolution, abandoned the place.” By 1857, few Kumeyaay remained. James
Lassator reportedly bought 160 acres in Green Valley from the last hereditary chief of the region. Lassator’s family maintained a home, hay fields and a way-station there, supplying those using the area's early overland trails until after his death in 1865.

The 1869 discovery of gold near today’s town of Julian triggered a brief but frenzied rush to the Cuyamaca mountains. The southernmost and most profitable of the mines was the Stonewall, located south of the Laguna Cuyamaca. By 1872, this profitable hard-rock mine supported a permanent worker’s camp and mill. In 1886 mining entrepreneur and soon-to-be California Governor Robert W. Waterman purchased and expanded the Stonewall’s operations. At its peak from 1886 to 1891, the mine produced over 7,000 pounds of gold while regularly employing 200 men and housing their families at its company town, Cuyamaca City. Financial problems ensued after Waterman’s death, and by 1892 hard-rock mining had ended.