El Prado Group Campground is a large group campground in Laguna Mountain Recreation Area north of the mountain hamlet of Mount Laguna, just an hour’s drive east of San Diego.
Managed by the National Forest Service, and located adjacent to Laguna Campground at an elevation of 5,600 feet, El Prado Group Campground is made up of five well-spaced individual group sites in a peaceful setting adjacent to Laguna Campground. For info on other campgrounds in the area, see our Mount Laguna camping guide.
|Site types||Tent, RV, Group Sites|
|Amenities||Potable Water, Hot Showers, Flush and Vault Toilets, Trash Receptacles, Fire Rings, Picnic Tables|
|Campground address||Sunrise Hwy, Mt Laguna, CA 91948|
|Campground GPS||32.889803, -116.450384|
|Season||Year-round (but amenities closed in winter)|
Getting to El Prado Group Campground
From the intersection of Interstate 5 and Interstate 8 in San Diego, you’d take I8 about 48 miles east to Sunrise Highway (State Route 1). Take Exit 47 and head northeast on Sunrise Highway for 14 miles to downtown Mount Laguna.
El Ppado is next to Laguna Campground, located about 2 miles north of Mount Laguna, just off Sunrise Highway at Laguna Meadow Road (GPS: 32.893111, -116.447972).
If you are coming from the town of Julian, head southeast on Route 79 for 18 miles.
Nestled in the serene backdrop of the Laguna Mountains, just 50 miles east of San Diego, El Prado Campground offers a tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
This campground is composed of five spacious group sites, designed to ensure privacy for each group and a connection with nature.
The sites – Big Sage, Manzanita (closed), Whitehorn, Buckwheat, and Yerba Santa – vary in capacity, accommodating between 30 to 50 guests, with provisions for RVs up to 40 feet in length.
Yerba Santa campsite is designed with accessibility in mind. It boasts four tent sites, ensuring everyone, regardless of physical ability, can experience the joys of camping amidst nature’s beauty. Within the campground, visitors are provided with amenities like drinking water, flush and vault toilets, and an expansive parking area.
The campground boasts an array of amenities including accessible campsites, drinking water facilities, paved pathways, and roads. Animal lovers will be pleased to note that pets are welcome. Moreover, the campsite features amenities such as picnic tables, campfire circles, and rings, ensuring a comfortable stay for all.
A notable feature of the El Prado Campground is its commitment to conservation. A portion of the grounds is cordoned off to safeguard the habitat of the endangered Laguna Skipper butterfly. Visitors are kindly reminded to respect the demarcated areas, maintaining the delicate balance of this ecosystem.
Positioned at an elevation of 5,600 feet, the campsite is adorned with lush pines and oaks, offering ample shade and a habitat for diverse bird species. This high-altitude setting not only promises refreshing air but also serves as the home for the rare Laguna Skipper butterfly.
Things to Do
Recreationally, El Prado is a hub of activity. The Laguna Mountain Recreation Area is famed for its horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking trails. One can venture onto the Laguna Meadow Trail system or embark on a journey along a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches an impressive 2,650 miles from Mexico through California and into Canada.
Within the campground, visitors can step back in time at the El Prado Cabin, built in 1911 and celebrated as the Cleveland National Forest’s first Ranger’s cabin.
Families can further enhance their outdoor experience by attending educational programs at the nearby Laguna Campground or by visiting the National Forest Service visitor’s center located a few miles away.
For those looking to explore beyond El Prado, attractions such as the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, the Noble Canyon National Recreation Trail, and the Mount Laguna Information Center are within close proximity.
For more information on activities in the area, check out our Mount Laguna adventure guide.