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May’s Rock Ranch

· Jamul, San Diego, California
40 acres hosted by Ben M.
Recent Hipcampers say this Hipcamp is romantic.
(AWD / 4WD access only) Come see the vast, open country of San Diego County's Deerhorn Valley with bucolic views of rocky hillsides and low valleys, shaded by giant oak trees and even the ocean on a clear day. The camp is about 40 acres and spans from the creek on Honey Springs Road, all the way to the top of the rocky hillside. There are restaurants, wineries, hiking trails and more, all within 15 minutes from the ranch. This place is truly my passion and I welcome all respectful campers! (Respectful means no loud partying, leaving trash, ruining things, making giant messes, loads of dog poop, etc... it needs to be said because some people do things like this) Access: The driveway is steep, loose gravel and costly to maintain. Please ensure that all vehicles that you want at the cabin are All Wheel Drive. Additional parking is available in a small dirt lot before the first hairpin turn. You'll see a small sign indicating the lot. Cabin: 270sf studio cabin, built from nearly all repurposed materials. There are three memory foam beds, one queen and two twins. Generally, I have mattress protectors and one sheet since the large majority of guests use their own sleeping bags. Full size pillows are available as well. A double tent cot is available as well, stored under the bunk beds. Water: The property does harvest rainwater for showering, washing and rinsing but not for drinking. Shower on site is a rain barrel that flows through a coiled black hose to heat in the sun then through a garden sprayer. It works well on a warm day. Solar Power: The cabin has 200 amp hours of lithium iron phosphate available through an 800w inverter then linked to standard AC outlets and USB. This means it can power small appliances and basically anything rechargeable. NO coffee pots, electric griddles or electric heaters. Toilet: It's a composting toilet in a private bathroom. PLEASE read the instructions. The sink has running water for washing your hands, not for drinking. Pets: Always welcome but, it should go without saying, be responsible. Neighbors have found random dogs in their yard from guests. Also, there is no poop ferry. Hiking Trail: You'll notice a hiking trailhead at the camp. Mainly, it's an access trail for the rock climbing but is very enjoyable for a quick stroll through the hillside, depending on how far you want to go. It gets very steep in places and can be hard to follow as it's a work in progress. That said, have fun exploring the land. If you're looking for a better hiking option, Hollenbeck Canyon is right there at SR94 and Honey Springs Road. Word of Caution: Talk to the kiddos ahead of time to avoid issues. I have a lot of building materials and heavy items that could cause injury. There is a big bulldozer as well that's cool to look at and sit on but also could cause injury if not careful. All I ask is that things are left as they were found and to be careful. Other than that, go have a blast. Climbing: (By rock climbing at this venue, you agree that you assume all liability and accept any risks as your responsibility.) Dating back to the early 1970's, this little slice of climbing paradise has attracted strong rock climbers from around the San Diego area for decades. The pioneer of North Deerhorn Valley was a strongman named Ray Olson; a larger than life personality who's passion for the rock craft lead to the development of this area with help from like-minded go-getters and brush-breakers. It's a massive amount of work. San Diego brush is a force not to be taken lightly. Ray and crew established dozens of all-star climbs, perched up in the rocky hillsides of this peaceful valley, using only the rudimentary climbing gear available at those times. For years, they were the kings of their own land. That is, until, it was purchased. The new owner was less than hospitable to visitors of any kind and, just like that, the good times at the local crag were gone. Ray move on and sought out adventure elsewhere and North Deerhorn faded in their minds as the brush reclaimed the trails they hiked so many times before. North Deerhorn was forgotten... perhaps a nostalgic mention here and there on Supertopo. Fast forward to 2020. Covid. The world in utter chaos. Civility at the brink of irreversible damage. My wife and I are sitting on the couch one evening, like everyone else, feeling restless and cooped up. I mentioned to her that I really wanted to go camping. Gleefully, she told me that a friend of hers just returned from a camping trip somewhere locally. When she looked it up, my wife showed me photos on her phone of the area and said, "Hey there are big rocks there." Instinctively, I grabbed her phone and and flicked through the photos. I knew exactly where this was. It was North Deerhorn. The following weekend, we booked two nights there with the dogs. Any words I write here will never fully explain my feeling when we pulled up and I saw all the towering formations and giant boulders... it was a lifetime of climbing, just on this one hillside. I was in paradise. I was in Ray's paradise, fifty years later. Over the next several months I actually became good friends with the now owner of the area, Brian. He purchased the land a couple years back for the family outings and for campers who love the beauty of such a dramatic landscape. I could best describe the camp as a Joshua Tree group site. The next couple years, Brian had I built a small studio cabin while I replaced the hundreds of bolts with new stainless steel. I also broke a new trail, touring all of the major formations. Climbing friends would help when and where they could and when it was climbing season... we went on a rampage. So many new lines established and boulders added to the lineup. It seemed never ending. Like on Christmas morning, we would peal back the brush and open our new toy, weather it be a boulder problem or a possible start to a new rock climb. It really is a dream come true. Ben Ray, I wish you could see the good you’ve done. RIP. Final remarks: I have poured myself into this project. It's not a money-maker in any way, shape or form. Quite the contrary. Any payment I get from these bookings goes right back into the camp and the climbing. I want to share this place with those who similarly have a deep respect for the unrivaled beauty and the way it can quiet our minds.
Wildlife watching
Natural features
River, stream, or creek
Not currently accepting bookings
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29 ratings · 25 reviews
Dave C.recommends
November 25, 2023
Amazing location and great host!
What a great place. Ben's place is the reason why I don't bother with state campgrounds anymore. Amazing camp with incredible views and a sweet little cabin that has everything you need. My wife and I decided to skip the traditional Thanksgiving this year and go camping instead, and we wanted the perfect site to make it worthwhile. We found it here and would absolutely book it again. Ben was a great host and we truly appreciate the extra effort he put in to make it a great stay for us.
Jaime C.recommends
November 8, 2023
You can't ask for a better experience than to get an entire crag to climb to yourselves! Ben really puts his heart into this property, adding a unique experience. You can even sleep peacefully in a cave with a luxurious setup! private bathroom, kitchen setup perfect for cooking/cleaning with running water, comfortable beds, and falling asleep to the sound of owls hooting. The climbing is incredible and I can't wait to go back to get on some more climbs!
Hannah S.recommends
October 30, 2023
Ben’s place is truly a slice of heaven! We felt like we were in our own little world amongst the huge boulders and cozy little cabin on the hill. The property is truly a labor of love, and all of Ben’s efforts did not go unnoticed. There was so much to explore, hidden gems to be found, and good times to be had. We can’t wait to return!
Andrea B.recommends
October 21, 2023
Great spot!
Our stay on Ben's land was AMAZING!!! 🌟 This camp is now one of our favorites! Remote, quiet, beautiful nature all around. The cabin itself is well made, so much attention to detail. There are lights and outlets for charging things. Fun little secrets to discover around the property. Great sunsets! AWD is a must to get up the drive, just like the description says. And in addition-- make sure the vehicle has some clearance too. There are some spots that you'll scuff on if you come in a car that's too low. Wonderful place!! 😄🌞
Bret A.recommends
October 20, 2023
Hard to beat…
Thank you Ben. You have a gem on your hands. Very envious of what you’ve done with it. Honestly, I’d give it a 10/10. The cave was an added bonus! Our group does this once a year and this certainly tops the list. Thank you for sharing it with others.
Ellie T.recommends
October 2, 2023
Just magic. Plain and simple. We will be back, thanks for everything!
Jamul, San Diego, California, United StatesTraditional, ancestral territory of Kumeyaay/Kumiais First Nations according to To respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Ben M.Joined in May 2020
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