If you’re looking to camp in the Laguna Mountains, there are several campgrounds to choose from, including two for large groups of up to 100 people. The challenge is to reserve campsites in advance, as they tend to book up pretty far ahead of time.
There are also first-come-first-served sites available if you time your arrival so you find a vacancy. The peak season for the campgrounds is April through October when reservations are accepted.
The forest service campgrounds are also open during the winter, when they are first-come, first-served only and certain amenities may not be available, such as firewood purchase and showers. Note that during the summer, campfires may be prohibited due to heightened danger of wildfires.
In this guide, I’ll provide an overview of the campgrounds and dispersed camping near Mount Laguna and share a few tips for landing a great campsite. For more information on things to do in the area, also check out our Mount Laguna adventure guide.
Managed by the National Forest Service, Burnt Rancheria Campground is the closest to Mount Laguna, just south of town on Sunrise Highway. This is a large campground with several loops and 109 campsites. The campground provides easy access to a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. Each site has a table and a campfire ring, and the campground is equipped with restrooms and coin-operated showers (showers open only during reservation season). There are no hookups or dump station for RVs. Firewood is available for purchase from the campground host.
Sites can be reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777 or reserved online at Recreation.gov The campground also has first-come, first-served sites.
Laguna Campground is a large campground managed by the forest service, with five different loops and a total of 104 campsites. Laguna Campground is about 3 miles northwest of Mount Laguna, on either Sunrise Highway or Los Huecos Road. The campground offers easy access to the Laguna Meadow Trail Network, one of the highlights of the Laguna Mountains. Amenities include campfire rings, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers. Firewood is available for purchase from the campground host.
For more information, check out our guide to Laguna Campground.
Adjacent to Laguna Campground, El Prado Group Campground is made up of five well-spaced individual group sites in a peaceful setting adjacent to Laguna Campground. One of the group sites, Yerba Santa, is accessible and includes four tent sites. Each site can accommodate a varying number of guests ranging between 30 to 50 people, and allows a 40-ft. maximum RV length.
For more information, visit our detailed guide to El Prado Group Campground.
Horse Heaven Group Campground is also near Laguna Campground and Laguna Meadow. Contrary to its name, the campground has no equestrian sites. This tent-only facility can accommodate gatherings of up to 100 people. The campground offers three areas for group gatherings: Lupine Loop can accommodate 40 people and 10 vehicles; Buttercup Loop can hold 100 people and 16 vehicles; Hollyhock Loop can hold 70 people and 12 vehicles. The facility is equipped with vault toilets and drinking water. Reservations can be made by calling 619-445-6235 or online at Recreation.gov.
Another campground for large groups, Wooded Hill Group Campground has a single site that can accommodate up to 110 people. This is one large campsite with parking spurs for trailers or RVs (maximum spur length varies from 20-40 ft.). There are no RV hookups. The facility is equipped with picnic tables, vault toilets, and a large fire circle. Wooded Hill Nature Trail, a 1.5-mile interpretive trail, starts just across Old County Road from the campground. The campground is open from May to Sept (check the reservations site for exact dates).
Reservations are required and can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at Recreation.gov.
Most of the area around Mount Laguna is part of Cleveland National Forest and is managed by the National Forest Service. Disperse backcountry camping is not allowed in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area – which encompasses much of the area around Mount Laguna.
Before setting out, you will be required to obtain a permit that covers a single group of up to 15 people. During the permit acquisition process, you will be asked to specify the road or trail near which you intend to camp. Keep in mind that each separate trip necessitates a new permit, and there is a camping limit of a maximum of 14 days within a 30-day period.
Your chosen campsite must be at least a quarter mile away from any developed campground, trailhead, private property, or highway. You are also required to set up your camp at least 100 feet away from water sources and meadows to help preserve the environment. Lastly, ensure that your campsite does not block any roadways or gates to allow for smooth passage for others.
Alter Experiences offers unique “glamping” stays in the Laguna Mountains, including tree tents and luxurious “bell” tents.
They operate out of Laguna Campground, El Prado Campground, and Burnt Rancheria Campground, under a license from the National Parks Service. Check out the website to see some photos of their setups. Inspiration will follow.