The Cleveland National Forest has over 423,000 acres of wilderness that is divided into three Ranger Districts: Palomar (central and northern San Diego), Trabuco (Orange and Riverside counties), and Descanso (east San Diego). The first inhabitants of this area were the Luisenos, Kumeyaay, Cupeno, and Cahuilla peoples, who lived well on the plentiful animals, acorns, and other plants. The trails that exist in the forest today mostly follow the same routes these first dwellers used. The Cleveland National Forest is a huge natural treasure that offers an experience in the wild that appears to be far removed from urban areas, but, in reality, it is close to the cities of San Diego, Carlsbad, and Palm Springs. The El Cariso Visitor Center offers access to the forest from the north, and the Laguna Visitor Center offers access from the south. The Laguna Mountain Recreation Area is only 40 minutes from downtown San Diego and is a superb example of a desert that transforms upward into a mountainous conifer forest.
Taking a trip around Cleveland National Forest in an RV is one of the best ways to see everything this large natural preserve contains. You have the convenience of setting out on your own schedule and staying at fun campgrounds, inside and outside the forest. Whether you use your own RV or rent one from RVshare, you are assured of being able to plan your trip with a minimum of fuss and just drive where you want and stay where you want. The road trip you have always imagined is easy to achieve with an RV.
Idyllwild Campground is one of two RV and tent drive-in campgrounds in Mount San Jacinto State Park. There are also two primitive hike-in campsites. Idyllwild features plenty of shade from pine trees and large sites, some of which have water spigots. Mount San Jacinto State Park is on the summit of Mount San Jacinto, which is the second-highest mountain in Southern California. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is close by and is an access point for the park. The park is also part of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which crosses three Western states. Idyllwild Campground affords campers access to everything this peaceful and beautiful state park offers. Number of sites: 33 tent and RV sites Rates: Call for rates Type of hookup: Full hookups Wi-Fi: No Pool/Hot tub: No Pet-friendly: Pets are allowed Showers: Coin-operated Laundry: No Other amenities: Water faucets at 10 of the sites
The Happy Traveler RV Park lies underneath the San Jacinto Mountains and is close to Palm Springs. You will appreciate the proximity to Palm Springs, with all of its landmarks, eateries, and shops. You will also love the scenic views of the mountains and the numerous hiking, biking, and horse riding trails in the area. Number of sites: Thirty RV sites with a maximum length of 40 feet; most sites are 20 feet in width Rates: $60.00/$340.00 (daily/weekly and monthly - $1,120 for January, February, and March) Type of hookup: Full hookups Amps: 30 and 50 Wi-Fi: In specific areas Pool/Hot tub: Yes Pet-friendly: Pets are allowed Showers: Yes Laundry: Yes Other amenities: Convenience store nearby, outside games, club room with billiards, seasonal activities in winter months, bimonthly propane delivery (in season), concrete patios with tables
Black Star Canyon Trail is one of the less-traveled trails in the national forest. It is located in Orange County and is a fun trek to Black Star Canyon Falls. Black Star Canyon was the former home of the Black Star Coal Mining Company in the 1800s and is both a historically and naturally significant region. The trail starts from a dirt road and follows Black Star Creek toward the falls, which feature the best flows during the rainy season of the winter and spring. Take care to avoid the poison oak that is prevalent.
Length: 6.8 miles
Garnet Peak Trail is located near Julian and features beautiful wildflowers. The trail is used for hiking, walking, and horses and is accessible year-round. Dogs can use this trail but must be kept on a leash.
Length: 2.3 miles
The San Juan Loop is a loop trail near Lake Elsinore. There is a waterfall that is best viewed after a rain, and the hike itself is fun and easy, making it a good choice for a family outing.
Length: 2.3 miles
Viejas Mountain Trail is located near Alpine. There are wildflowers in the spring and summer that are beautiful to see from the trail. The trail itself has steep portions and quite a few rocks. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
Length: 3.1 miles
The Sunset and Big Laguna Loop to Big Laguna Lake is a loop trail near Pine Valley. You will have lots of opportunities to see wildlife, and the trail is suitable for all skill levels. Dogs can use this trail but must be kept on a leash.
Length: 4 miles
Cleveland National Forest is the southernmost national forest in California. Inside its 423,000 acres, there is a wide variety of habitats and native wildlife and plants. Visitors to the national forest can enjoy the abundant wildflowers in the Big Laguna Mountain Meadows, and you will find numerous hiking trails throughout this large preserve. Popular activities include stargazing, hunting, horseback riding, OHV riding, and hiking. Currently, there is no fishing in the forest.
You will have the chance to see abundant wildlife, such as pigeons, quail, turkeys, cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, deer, mule deer, wild pigs, badgers, gray foxes, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, moles, opossums, rodents, mountain lions, and more. The habitats are primarily chaparral, with some riparian areas. The climate is dry and Mediterranean.
Address: 10845 Rancho Bernardo Road, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127
Fee: Entry pass (per day, per vehicle) $5
Fee: Entry pass (per secondary vehicle) $5
Fee: Entry pass (annual, per vehicle) $30
You can find a wide variety of outdoor recreation in the Cleveland National Forest. Desert and mountain terrains dominate, and there are plenty of trees and other types of plants. The wildlife is numerous and varied, and you will have many opportunities to catch a glimpse of the forest's inhabitants. The trails offer all types of hiking and riding fun, both in the summer and winter months. Taking an RV road trip is the ideal way to experience both the forest and the surrounding areas and offers the best of both worlds.