馃対 2024 Solar eclipse: Book now for 4/8

The best camping near Cleveland National Forest

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Cleveland adventure.

95% (76 reviews)
95% (76 reviews)

Hike, camp, or gaze up at the Milky Way in California鈥檚 southernmost national forest.

Popular ways to camp

Community favorites near Cleveland National Forest

Top-rated campgrounds reviewed by the Hipcamp community.

Book externally

Public campgrounds in the park
Book externally

Stay at a public campground in Cleveland National Forest

Top-rated campgrounds near Cleveland National Forest


San Diego Canyon Creek

5 sites 路 Lodging, RVs, Tents1 acre 路 El Cajon, CA
As you enter into our little oasis, you'll see why we want to share the space. It is a great environment to get away from the city or pass through on your road trip. The driveway enters down to our creek-side camping where a hammock under a tree awaits a quiet reader or a bird watcher. It's just a 30 minute drive to the beach, a short walk to the neighborhood park- equipped with a playground, or a five minute drive to a local ecological reserve containing multiple trails. If you'd like to hang out on the property, we offer chairs and an umbrella with each campsite to lounge in while enjoying the fresh air and nature. In addition, we have a propane-powered fire pit, an outdoor food preparation area, and a flush toilet. Fun Fact: Harbison Canyon was named after John Stewart Harbison - aka the King of the Bee Keepers. He arrived with over one hundred colonies of bees in 1874 and within 7 years he became the worlds largest honey producer. Today there are just a few bees in the area.
/ night

The Crest Co-Op

3 sites 路 RVs1 acre 路 Spring Valley, CA
After spending a few years traveling around the world and working remotely, we chose San Diego to settle down and start a family. Given our unconventional lifestyle and the old-school mentality of mortgage lenders, it took us a while to buy our first home. It is a fixer-upper house with about an acre of land. We recently added a garden, citrus trees, grill, patio, and plan to add more amenities for campers. We love our home and the land around it, and we hope you do too! Since we chose San Diego out of anywhere in the world to live, we have tons of great recommendations to enhance your stay. We are open to both short-term and long-term stays. We thank you for sharing our space that we call the Crest Co-op, and we thank you for contributing to our never-ending-projects-fund. People that stay with us love our views, both facing north where you will see the 3 largest peaks in the region, and at the top of our driveway where you can see the ocean and downtown San Diego. The sunsets are unreal! Our guests also love the recommendations. As avid travelers, we can help you find the best restaurant, beach, brewery, hike, or whatever you are into. **PLEASE READ TO ENSURE THIS IS A GOOD MUTUAL FIT** When you submit a request or message, please let us know what kind of vehicle you have, especially the length. Please note that if the total length of your vehicle (for those with trailers that includes the length of the truck) should be under 35 ft. This is a general guideline since we've found larger vehicles are difficult to back down our driveway. We have backed a 33 ft airstream down the driveway with a 20ft truck so it is doable if you are a pro at backing up, but please note this before booking. Also please let us know if you plan to use electricity or water, and add on the electricity since this costs us a lot of money. San Diego Gas and Energy is the most expensive energy in the country and our average electricity bill is over $700 per month, so we unfortunately have to pass on some of these costs if you decide to plug in. Wifi and water are free. Last, if you tell us a little about yourself and what you're looking to do in San Diego we can try to make your stay more enjoyable with conversation and recommendations. See ya soon!
/ night

Coastal Rancho Soledad

4 sites 路 RVs2 acres 路 Chula Vista, CA
Your perfect base camp to relax, "work" remotely, and explore San Diego from a coastal environment. Designed to welcome RVing guests in a "city-close but just far enough away" ranch-style setting. A must-stop refuge whether returning from your Baja expedition or starting a new one! ******************Conveniently located :-) 3 miles from bay marina/boat ramp 4 miles from Pacific Ocean beaches and State Park (Imperial Beach, Silver Strand, Coronado Beach) 5 miles from US/Mexico border Convenience and grocery stores within walking distance Public transportation and trolley line accessible *******************What to expect: County residential estate at the end of a private gravel road in a tree-lined valley through "rural looking" properties. Ample turn-around on site suitable for trailers and larger vehicles. Neighboring residential subdivision 200 feet away separated by hillside. A screened area with "classic" trucks and "legacy" equipment next to two shipping containers. An ambitious landscape design with planting in progress. ******************What we hope you find: A glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and a coastal breeze to greet you on arrival. Spaces for solitude and reflection. Spaces for conversation. Space for celebration. Please note 3D view from space on most mapping services is outdated (zombie-land-like landscape is no longer).
/ night

Diana's Descanso Camp

4 sites 路 Lodging, RVs, Tents23 acres 路 Descanso, CA
We have TWO SITES for camping: 1. A comfortable, 18 foot Tepee/Tipi and/or 2. A TENT/TRAILER/RV site (no hookups) * Water and electrical outlets available for both sites Our ranch, Clark Ranch, was once part of the historic Hulburd Grove Resort. Our barn use to be the riding stables. Enjoy our posted pictures of the OLD DAYS when life was simple, fun and included horses! Our property has 2 separate sites to book: Tipi and Tent/RV site about 25 yards apart. You may book both for 2 families, etc. Descanso means 鈥淧lace of rest鈥. Early travelers from San Diego and points east would stay over or rest under the huge shady oak trees that Descanso still offers today along Old Hwy 8. Log on to Hipcamp.com; "Diana's Descanso Camp" for any questions regarding these bookings. I'll be glad to help you! Diana
/ night

Manzanita Ridge

1 site 路 Lodging9 acres 路 Descanso, CA
WE love where we live! And we think you'd like to visit! WE mostly enjoy our views, one of the benefits of living on a hill, there is nothing to obstruct the view! Come and hike, or just sit!
/ night
Booked 4 times

Glamp in Tiny Cabin #2

1 site 路 Lodging8 acres 路 Alpine, CA
Tiny Cabin #2 (TC2) sits on top of the property with Mountain to Ocean views. It's a great place to Star gaze, watch a sunset and City lights. A great weekend getaway. A place to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. A short drive away is the towns of Alpine and Descanso, Cuyamaca State Park and Laguna Mountain. San Diego Beaches are down I-8 . TC2 has two seating areas for your privacy. Plus, plenty of space to roam around. It's above the common game and dining area. Inside has a TV DVR, small refrigerator, sink, Coffee maker, queen bed and cabinet with cooking supplies. There is a microwave, one burner hot plate. The BBQ is propane.
/ night

Campo Nopalito

5 sites 路 Lodging15 acres 路 Valley Center, CA
Welcome to Nopalito Farm! We鈥檙e so happy you鈥檝e decided to spend some time on this beautiful property! In case you鈥檙e interested, here are a few interesting things about our farm. Nopalito Farm has been in operation since late 2014, but the property itself has been a working farm for over 50 years. Lemons and avocados were the primary crops from the 70鈥檚 through the 00鈥檚, and are still prominent throughout our 15 acres. Our predecessors then diversified the growing operation by planting a wide range of fruit trees ranging from guavas and passion fruit to peaches and figs. For a decade, hops were grown on 2 acres and were sold to breweries throughout southern California. We鈥檝e since replaced the hop yard with perennial flowers, but continue to cultivate a wide variety of delicious fruits.
/ night

Beachin' Ranch Camping

6 sites 路 RVs, Tents20 acres 路 San Diego, CA
Hello All Campers this is a self check in facility.... Camp host available from 7:30AM to 8:30AM and 3:00PM to 4:30PM only You can Call owner anytime (760)419-4839 Sorry we Don't have horse rentals but can offer guided rides through the area trails with pre arranged notice. So bring your horses and enjoy the ride D & J Stables is a family run facility created by Dick and Jenny Tynan in 2005. It is located on the Kimzey Family Ranch in San Diego. Since their passing, the Stables have been managed by their son Scott Tynan. Our stables offer a clean and quiet place for horse owners to board their precious companions - short or long term - or to serve as a weekend getaway for a person or group of friends/riders. Each Boarding Corral has walking space, shaded corners, automated water feeders, soft dirt, partially sheltered sides and is in close proximity to a round pen, a small arena (turnout) and is encompassed by a small walking track. No two corrals are close enough to each other for the horses to interact, reducing the likelyhood of mishap from a neighbor. Each Weekender Corral comes equipped with the same as the above, excepting only the partially sheltered side panels, and are right next to where you will be parking your trailer or camper. With access to all 38 miles of equestrian trails in the area and less than a 2 mile ride to the beautiful South San Diego beaches, D&J Stables is a prime location for horse men and women everywhere. We are excited to open up to the general public for the camping experience Horse ranch life style, Learn more about this land: Nestled against the mountains and beach of the San Diego/ Mexico border, open access to 38 miles of state beach trails and only 1.5 miles from the sands of Imperial Beach. We have pristine views and perfect weather San Diego is known for. D and J Stables is one of the last ranches with beach access to ride a horse on the beach. It's a rustic, one of a kind experience. Dogs are allowed but not in stable area thank you for your understanding.
/ night
Booked 1 time

San Diego Eventures

1 site 路 RV, Tent16 acres 路 San Diego Country Estates, CA
Ramona Oaks RV Park is one of San Diego鈥檚 best RV Camping secrets! Nestled in the gently sloping foothills of San Diego County, RVers absolutely love vacationing at our park amongst the live oaks, pepper trees, eucalyptus, succulents and flowers. Many animals such as deer, rabbits, turkeys, ducks, wood pecks, and humming birds also make this their home. Surrounded by vineyards and ranches we are six miles from the cowboy town of Ramona, 12 miles from the San Diego Safari Park and only a 20 minute drive from the historic town of Julian. Neighboring towns including Poway, Escondido and Lakeside and allow easy access to I-78, I-15, I-8 and Hwy 52. Close to city life, the coast and major attractions but far enough away to enjoy the tranquil beauty of all the area has to offer!
/ night

Old well ranch

5 sites 路 RVs, Tents4 acres 路 Jamul, CA
I鈥檓 at 2300鈥 on north side of Lyons peak I have sweet tasting water very quiet and at the end of the road about an 1/8 mi off Lyons valley road there鈥檚 is a nice country store since 1940 many people visit store as a destination on any weekends bicycles,Harley鈥檚 classic cars I鈥檓 a cook I serve bbq Mex food American food or you can cook over open fire store has everything thing you desire there鈥檚 Julian for pie , lake cuyamaca , hiking best area for camping or extended stay to see all of San Diego and Mexico Baja theres a shower bath room and very clean area super quiet you will love your stay firewood for campfires is included so you will make great memories of your stay campsites are improving as time goes on to make you camping experience great
/ night

Stallion Oaks Ranch (Retreat)

18 sites 路 Lodging, Tents243 acres 路 Descanso, CA
In 2003, the Grosvenor Family Foundation donated the 238-acre retreat property located in Descanso to The Unity Center. Much of the land, including more than 12 structures were destroyed during the Cedar Fires in October of 2003. In the years since the fire, members of our community have lovingly tended to the land and slowly nurtured the trees and flowers. The result is acres of pristine wilderness, with hiking trails, a small lake and even a hill of daffodils that bloom every Spring.Our vision is to create a world-class retreat center and campground that promotes spiritual renewal and personal growth in a natural setting, by providing a location for education, inner reflection, positive recreation and acceptance. The Ranch is owned by The Unity Center, a progressive spiritual community that emphasizes living consciously and making a positive difference in the world. This is a sacred and special place . So whether you're planning a retreat, a wedding or a special event, we hope you'll come away from the Ranch feeling renewed.
/ night

Whiteside Mountain

1 site 路 Tent160 acres 路 Jamul, CA
160 acres of wild and private land at the top of a mountain. Bouldering, exploring, outdoor cold water shower, well drinking water, and pergola! 45 minutes from downtown San Diego and beaches but a whole different world!A single camp spot on the top of a mountain surrounded by 160 acres of no one else! Requires聽4WD/high clearance聽AWD road to camp spot. Plenty of shade at spot with picnic area that is covered. Drinking water, sink and outdoor cold water shower. Bouldering (climbing), fire pit (seasonal), covered deck, hiking and VIEWS!聽Plenty of room and separate camp spots- lock the gate and you will have no visitors or onlookers. Single outdoor flush toilet with sink. 聽We provide a Propane stove - 2 burner, propane, toilet paper, dish soap and hand soap. 聽No COTS.Guests love it here "This was finally checked off of my saved list鈥攎y partner and I rented a 4x4 to get up there since our 2WD car wouldn't have made it in one piece. It was only a short drive from downtown San Diego and was super easy to navigate. Once we arrived the experience was TRULY MAGICAL. We had such an awesome experience exploring the property, birdwatching, hiking and some light climbing. Don't forget to check out the cave! The facilities were beyond expectations and we had a seamless experience. Steve was super accommodating and was great at communicating鈥攈e even gave us a small tour of the property! The sunsets and sunrises here were something out of a dream, we wish we could wake up every morning here. We will definitely be coming back soon!"
/ night

The best camping near Cleveland National Forest guide



The southernmost national forest in California, Cleveland National Forest encompasses nearly half a million acres of dry, hilly brushland. It's a popular getaway for San Diegans in the summer months, offering a small number of Forest Service-run campgrounds plus ample opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and off-roading. The oftentimes clear skies and high elevations found throughout the park lend themselves particularly well to stargazing, and San Diego State University uses the forest for astronomical activities ranging from scientific research to public stargazing parties. The forest is also the site of the university's Mount Laguna Observatory.

Notable campgrounds

  • Best for getting away from it all: Blue Jay Campground offers 50 spaced-apart sites surrounded by brush and grasslands for a wilderness feel.
  • Best for stargazing: Laguna Campground attracts astronomy fans in the summer months, with regular San Diego State University-sponsored star parties.
  • Best for gorgeous views: At 6,000 feet above sea level, Burnt Rancheria Campground offers epic views over the desert. On clear days, you can see the Salton Sea.

Tips for snagging a campsite

  1. Most of the campsites in the Cleveland National Forest are only available on a first-come, first served (FCFS) basis. Arrive in the morning for the best selection.
  2. Reservable campsites can be booked up to six months in advance on the National Park Service website. Reservations open at 7am Pacific Time. If you have your heart set on a specific site, then it鈥檚 wise to wake up early to secure your spot.
  3. Weekend FCFS camping can be challenging to secure, particularly in summer, but if you can come earlier in the week to claim your spot, you鈥檒l have better chances.

When to go

Cleveland National Forest offers year-round recreation, though it's at its most popular in the summer months, particularly for campers and hikers. The period between the Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day is busiest, so it's a good idea to visit in September or early October to strike a balance between good weather and fewer crowds. The forest gets some snowfall in the winter at higher elevations, and chains can be necessary to navigate the roads.

Know before you go

  • Cell service can be spotty in parts of the Cleveland National Forest, so it鈥檚 a good idea to download offline maps before you set out.
  • You are allowed to collect firewood in the forest, but you will need to obtain a permit through the Descanso, Palomar or Trabuco Ranger District offices in order to do so.
  • Wildfires are an issue in the Cleveland National Forest, and fire restrictions are frequently put into place. Portable stoves are generally allowed during fire bans. Check with a ranger station or on the Cleveland National Forest website before starting a fire.

Nearby attractions

  • Experience the wonders of camping at William Heise County Park, a hidden gem nestled in nature's embrace. Set up camp amidst towering trees and enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings.

  • Escape to聽Agua Caliente County Park聽for a rejuvenating camping experience. Camp amidst tranquil surroundings, soak in natural hot springs, and enjoy stargazing under clear night skies.聽

Safety at Hipcamp

Inclusion Policy
Inclusion Policy
Inclusion Policy
Hipcamp Hand

Safety partners

Recreate Responsibly

About us

Hipcamp is the most comprehensive resource for beautiful private campsites.

Discover and reserve tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping.

Download the Hipcamp App

Hipcamp is created with 鉂わ笍 and hope for our future.