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7 Best Lakes For Camping Near San Diego

7 Best Lakes For Camping Near San Diego

Camping in San Diego County provides many camping options, from lakeside campsites to RV parks and wilderness trails.

There are many choices regarding where you can go for your next camping adventure – but what’s the best place?

To help with this decision, I’ve given my readers the full scoop on all things campgrounds near San Diego!

Start planning now and prepare for an unforgettable trip that will be one of your best memories!

What are the best San Diego Lakes for camping?

San Diego is home to many camping spots; here, we have listed some lakes which are excellent for camping:

1. Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings is a great place to go camping. The campsites have a variety of amenities, including Wi-Fi and fire rings. Shore fishing is allowed during day hours. There are various camping options, from full hookups to primitive sites without water or electricity.

The lake is well-stocked with fish and has a range of hiking, fishing, and camping trails. Hikers have the option to walk around the lake or go on a trail that connects to the ridge of El Monte Valley. Onsite rentals are available for paddleboats, rowboats, and motorboats.

Camping at Lake Jennings offers incredible views of the lake. Fishing is limited and available only on Monday through Friday. The lake opens to boat fishers at 5:00 pm on Friday and continues through Sunday at 8:30 pm.

Lake Jennings

2. Lake Murray

The Lake Murray camping area is located inside the Mission Trails Regional Park. It is open year-round and offers a wide range of activities for the whole family.

Lake Murray allows visitors to enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, and boating. The lake is open for fishing every day of the week from 6:00 am to 8:30 pm, with a limit on the bass of one fish per person.

Lake Murray is located at the end of Murray Canyon Road, off Lake Murray Blvd. in San Diego. Campsite: $25 per night for a campsite with no hookups; $35 per night for a campsite with electricity. Campground: $30 per night for an RV site with water and electricity; $35 per night for an RV site with full hookups.

Lake Murray

3. Lake Cuyamaca

Camping at Lake Cuyamaca is popular, with cabins and campsites available nearby. The lake is an hour’s drive from San Diego and has three different campgrounds. The camps have access to bathrooms, showers, and picnic areas. The campgrounds are open year-round, but the cabins are only available from April to October.

Wildlife, such as deer, woodpeckers, squirrels, and rabbits, can be easily spotted at Lake Cuyamaca. There are miles of trails in Cuyamaca State Park and Mount Laguna, which are suitable for all ages and skills. Lake Cuyamaca is a great place to go camping if you’re looking for a peaceful location with great views.

Lake Cuyamaca

4. Kumeyaay Lake

Kumeyaay Lake Campground is an excellent option for those looking to camp near San Diego. The campground is located on Kumeyaay Lake, making it a great spot to enjoy the outdoors and nature.

The campground has many amenities, including a pool, playground, fishing pier, and more. The campsites are spacious and comfortable, with plenty of room to spread out. You can also explore the area around the campground, with plenty of trails nearby for hiking or biking.

The Kumeyaay Lake Campground is open for Friday and Saturday night camping. The cost is $22.66 per night, which can be paid with either credit, debit, or gift cards. There are 46 campsites available at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground for reservation, which can be done on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Hikers and cyclists are welcome to walk into the campground and utilize picnic tables. Only open fires may be set in designated fire rings at each campground.

BBQs may be used in the adjacent lot, as well as at East Comfort Station (open daily). The entrance to the campground is located two-tenths of a mile from the stop sign on Father Junipero Serra Trail.

 Kumeyaay Lake

5. Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is an excellent option for camping near San Diego. The preserve offers fishing, biking, boating, bird watching, and playgrounds. The campground offers restrooms and showers, a clubhouse with activities, and exclusive fishing at lakes 6 and 7.

The Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is open daily, and you can enjoy year-round fishing with a permit from their General Store (no state license required)

Campers can choose from a variety of campsites. Some have full hookups, while others are only accessible by boat. Campgrounds near San Diego, like the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, provide campers with a great place to escape the city life’s hustle and bustle.

a body of water surrounded by trees

6. Lake Morena

Lake Morena is a great camping spot for those who want to get away from the city and enjoy the outdoors. The park is surrounded by desert, coastal, and mountain habitats, making it a great place to explore.

The lake has a 3,000-foot elevation and is the most remote reservoir in San Diego County, so it’s perfect for those who want to get away from it all.

The Lake Morena camping complex has 86 campsites, wilderness cabins, playgrounds, picnic tables, and restrooms. It’s also possible to rent boats for day use at the park. Fishing is good here, too – jumbo rainbow trout are stocked in the fall, winter, and early spring. So if you’re looking for a great spot to camp and fish in San Diego County, check out Lake Morena.

Lake Morena

7. Dixon Lake

Dixon Lake is a beautiful camping spot with 45 campsites. The lake is excellent for fishing and has flush toilets and drinking water. The amphitheater is a great place to relax and listen to the sound of the water.

You can fish from the shore, from a dock, or from a boat at Dixon Lake. There are many recreational areas close by, such as Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, Del Dios Highland County Preserve, and Lake Hodges.

Camping grounds at Dixon Lake are open year-round. The campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no cost to camp here, but there is a fee to enter the park.

Dixon Lake

What are the best campgrounds near San Diego?

The ten best Campgrounds near San Diego are listed below with descriptions:

1) Campland on the Bay- This campground is located on the bay near San Diego. This campground offers a variety of campsites, such as RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. You can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating at this campground.

2) San Elijo State Beach Campground-  This campground is located near San Diego. This campground offers a variety of campsites, such as RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. There are also many activities to enjoy, such as swimming, surfing, and kayaking. This campground is open year-round.

3) Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay- This campground is located in San Diego Bay. It offers many activities, such as swimming and fishing. The campsites are spacious and include picnic tables, fire pits, BBQ grills, and restrooms.

4) South Carlsbad State Beach Campground- This campground is located in Carlsbad, California. It offers many activities for everyone to enjoy. Activities include swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, tidepool exploring & more.

5) Willow Loop Campground- This campground is in Santee, California. It is a large campground with many activities to enjoy, such as fishing, swimming, and surfing. Campsites include picnic tables, fire rings & BBQ grills.

6) Bluff Campground- This campground is located in La Jolla, off I-5. It offers fantastic views of the ocean & cliffs, hiking, picnicking & more.

7) Moro Campground- This campground is located in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park off S22. It offers primitive camping, hiking, star gazing & more.

8) Doane Valley Campground– This campground is located in Palomar Mountain State Park off S6. It offers beautiful views of the valley below, hiking, picnicking & more.

9) Leo Carrillo State Park- This state park is located on the coast of Malibu off PCH 1. It offers over a mile of beach for swimming, surfing, tidepool exploring & more, plus nearly 9 miles of trails for hiking & biking.

10) Mt. Laguna Campground– This campground is located in Cleveland National Forest off I-8. It offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, hiking, picnicking & more.

Why camp near San Diego?

1) An excellent way to experience the outdoors

San Diego is a great place to go camping because of its beautiful scenery and ample activities. With miles of white sand beaches, freshwater lakes, and forested mountains, there is no shortage of incredible views. There are also a variety of trails to explore, from easy beach walks to more challenging mountain hikes.

There are many great camping options in and around San Diego. Each campground has its unique features and benefits.

The campgrounds are all close to various attractions and activities in San Diego, making it easy to fill your days with fun things to do. Camping is a great way to explore a new place and experience the local culture.

2) Great weather

The weather in San Diego is a significant factor to consider when camping near the city. The average temperature ranges from 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a comfortable place to camp all year round.

However, the greatest time to go camping in San Diego is in August, when it’s the warmest month and the days are the longest. June gloom is the term used to describe the gloomy, cold weather in late spring and early summer.

Not only does the weather make San Diego a great place to camp, but the city itself is full of natural beauty and a lively city atmosphere. There are various camping options near San Diego, from primitive camping to glamping, so there is sure to be something for everyone. With many trails and campsites to choose from, San Diego should be at the top of your list of places to camp!

3) Beautiful campgrounds

San Diego is a beautiful place to visit and camp, with plenty of hiking and biking trails. The city is situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and offers stunning views. There are plenty of beautiful campgrounds near San Diego, perfect for all types of camping enthusiasts.

Some of the best campgrounds near San Diego are included in this post, so be sure to check them out! The campgrounds offer flush toilets, hot showers, a camp store, a restaurant, a theater, RV hookups, pet-friendly policies, potable water, and a picnic table.

4) Great camping spots close to the city

San Diego is a beautiful place to go camping, with miles of white sand beaches and marine preserves. There are plenty of trails to hike and peaks to climb in the area.

There are many different types of camping spots near San Diego, from beach vacations to desert retreats. Click through to find the best campgrounds near San Diego, including what to expect and where they are.

5) Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Camping is a great way to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle and enjoy nature’s beauty. There are many different types of campsites available, so you can find one that suits your needs.

The weather is perfect all year round, so you can camp anytime you want. Camping in San Diego is a great way to get away from the city and enjoy the fresh air and scenic views.

How should you evaluate a camping spot?

1. Location:

When choosing a camping spot, it is essential to consider the location. A great camping spot should be located in a desirable area, close to amenities, and easy to access. The best camping spots are often lakes and beaches. Lakes provide many benefits for campers, from swimming to fishing.

2. Activities:

If you want to do something besides just sitting in a tent, then the camping spot should have things like hiking trails, fishing piers or outfitters, swimming beaches, or biking trails.

If you don’t have any of these things, then the camping trip won’t be as fun. The best place to start looking for a good camping spot is online. There are several websites that will tell you which places have the best hiking trails and fishing piers.

3. Amenities:

When considering what amenities are essential to have at a camping spot, it is crucial to think about what activities you want to do while camping. If you plan on doing a lot of cooking, then having a designated area for grilling or an outdoor stove would be necessary.

If you want to go fishing, then having a fishing spot or access to a boat would be necessary. Other amenities that might be important are bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities.

4. Fees:

There are a few different types of fees that are associated with camping. The first fee is the campsite fee, which is charged per night. The second fee is the reservation fee, which is charged when you make a reservation for a campsite. The third fee is the parking fee, which is charged for parking your vehicle at the camp.

When evaluating these fees, it’s important to consider how much you’ll be using the campsite and what amenities you need. If you’re only planning on staying for one night, then the campsite fee won’t be as important as the reservation fee.

However, if you’re planning on staying for multiple nights or need features like water and electricity hookups, then the campsite fee will be more important.

5. Pets:

Many owners want to bring their pets with them on the camping excursion. This is a good idea, as long as they are properly prepared for this type of adventure and know how to care for them. Pets will need food and water, of course, but also a safe place to stay away from the campfire at night.

Some spots may not be pet-friendly or have strict rules about keeping pets on a leash. It is also important to ensure that the pet will not be disruptive to other campers by keeping noise levels low during quiet hours.

6. Accessibility:

A person should consider the accessibility of a camping spot. For some people, this is how long it takes to get there and back. Others may be more concerned about whether they will have to cross a river or climb through the woods. The type of car required can also be considered.

7. Safety:

When planning a camping trip, it is crucial to consider the safety of the campsite. There are a few factors to consider when choosing a safe camp, such as the location, terrain, and weather conditions.

The location of the campsite is important to consider for safety. Make sure to research an area before setting up camp. Knowing the terrain and conditions of the area can help you avoid dangerous situations.

The terrain around the campsite should be considered when choosing a safe spot to camp. If the area is steep or has loose rocks, it might be more dangerous than a flat, level spot. Be sure to check the weather conditions before heading out, as well. If there is a chance of rain or storms in the forecast, it might be best to choose a different campsite.


What are the best mountain camping spots near San Diego?

San Diego is an excellent place to camp due to its natural beauty and city atmosphere. There are many different campgrounds near San Diego, each with its own unique features. Some good mountain camping spots near San Diego are Round, Point Mugu State Park, and New Camp.

What are the best forest camping spots near San Diego?

Forest camping is a great way to get away from it all and experience nature. Near San Diego, there are some excellent forest camping spots that offer amazing views of the city and surrounding mountains. These spots include Cleveland National Forest, Mount San Jacinto State Park, Palomar Mountain State Park, and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.