What Is Palomar Mountain State Park?

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  • Written By: S. Reynolds
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Palomar Mountain State Park is located in San Diego County and is part of the California State Parks system. It is a public, state-run park and is a popular destination for hikers, as there are numerous trailheads for hikers of all skill levels. Fishing, camping and picnicking also are popular activities, and the park is conveniently open year-round.

The park was established in the 1930s when the state bought 1,683 acres (about 6.8 square km) of land. Some of the acquisition money was donated by San Diego County and the Palomar Park Association. Additionally, much of the picnic facilities, which still stand today, were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Palomar Mountain itself has a rich history. Artifacts found in the area indicate that it was once inhabited by LuiseƱo Indians for many years. They had multiple villages and used the area as a hunting and gathering ground. It was also an area for hiding stolen cattle and horses. Thieves would steal the animals and hide them in Palomar Mountain meadow for quick transport into Mexico.

The park has a number of physical attributes that attract tourists from great distances. Since the mountain elevation reaches 5,000 feet (about 1,524 meters), hikers can easily see panoramic views of deserts and oceans from the top. The Palomar Mountain State Park Observatory, run by the California Institute of Technology, is also a popular nearby tourist attraction.


Fir trees, cedars, oaks, and pine trees make up most of the vegetation. Flowers include wild lilac, azalea, and dogwood, among other species. Hikers routinely see wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, and deer throughout the year.

Camping is another big draw to Palomar Mountain State Park. Campers can choose from 31 campsites in the park, but reservations must be made in advance. The rustic sites have piped water, a table, and a fire pit. There are also public bathrooms and showers available in some areas. Some of the campgrounds accommodate trailers and campers, while others are strictly primitive sites for tents only.

Palomar Mountain State Park also has numerous picnic areas for barbecues, gatherings, and daytime entertainment. Picnic areas feature wood stoves, bathrooms, and potable water. Visitors can only use the picnic areas during the hours of 8 a.m. to sunset, however.

Fishing is another popular pastime in the state park. Doane Pond is open to visitors year-round. One must show a California fishing license, however, to catch the abundant trout in the pond.


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Post 3

I am interested in the Indian artifacts they have found in Palomar Mountain State Park.

Do they have a visitors center at this park that features some of these artifacts? I have never been to this park, but I am intrigued by the history behind it.

I also find it fascinating that they used this place to store stolen horses until they could move them to Mexico.

Many parks have visitor centers where you can read about the history of the park. Does anybody know if they have something like this available at the park where you can read about the history of the area?

Post 2

I think San Diego is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, but I especially love to go in the fall when the evenings are a little cooler.

We live a few hours from Palomar Mountain State Park, and have camped there many times. Because there is such a variety of trees that include cedar, spruce and oak, the color changes are a sight to see.

We love to explore the outdoors and usually camp in the primitive camping spots and spend the days hiking and taking photographs. It cools down enough in the evening so sitting around a fire really hits the spot.

One of the things I like best about Palomar Mountain State Park is that most of the times I have been there, it has not been over crowded. We have found it a perfect park for getting away from the busy life of the city and enjoying the beautiful views of nature.

Post 1

When we were visiting my nephew who lives in San Diego, we had some free time and decided to check out Palomar Mountain State Park.

Since both my husband and I like to hike, we knew we wanted to hike as far up as we could for some magnificent views.

We weren't disappointed when we reached the top which was about 5000 feet. I am glad we had the camera with us and we were able to take some beautiful pictures of the ocean and the park.

We were there in the spring when the dogwood trees were in bloom and this was really beautiful. The only thing I was disappointed in was we didn't get to see much wildlife.

The scenery made up for this though, and this is a park I would visit again. Since I am from the Midwest, having the warmer temperatures and flowering trees earlier in the year was a real treat for us.

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