Open car camping is allowed in several places inside Cleveland National Forest, although NO campfires are permitted in the backcountry (trailside or dirt roads) – due to the high fire danger. Your best for FREE, open, dispersed camping (with a campfire) is Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Lower elevations w/ summertime temperature can get very hot, so plan for higher elevation camps. The more you explore, the more you can find.
The Tom Harrison San Diego Backcountry Map can get you out there on the back roads.
Laguna Mountain (off Sunrise Hwy. S-1)
[south Cleveland National Forest]
East of San Diego; 40 miles E on Interstate 8
- Pine Creek Road – with plenty of mountain biking trails
- Noble Canyon – popular mountain biking trail
- Kitchen Creek Road (warning, heavy use w/ US Border Patrol)
Palomar Mountain (off Hwy. 76)
[north Cleveland National Forest]
N of San Diego; 40 miles N on Interstate 15
- No back roads camping is allowed in this forest
- 4×4 trails & camping @ Los Coyotes Indian Reservation
Anza Borrego Desert Camping
East of San Diego CA
- Dispersed camping nearly anywhere in Anza desert (w/ a metal fire bucket)
[higher elevations (1000-2000′) near Cleveland National Forest]
[lower elevations (100′) near Hwy 78]
- Split Mountain
- Nolina Wash
- Pinyon Wah
- Old Kane Springs Road
A winter day out exploring Culp Valley back roads.
Maps Mountains / San Diego Maps