Palomar Mountain is the location of
Palomar Mountain State
Park, a California State Park. There are
campgrounds for vacationers, as well as a campground for local
school children. The park averages 70,000 visitors annually. The
campgrounds in the park were temporarily closed on October 2, 2011,
due to state budget cuts, and the park was among 70 California State
Parks threatened by budget cuts in fiscal years 2011-2012 and
2012-2013, but the park and the campgrounds remain open.
High Point in the Palomar Mountain range is one
of the highest peaks in San Diego County, at 6,140 feet, although
Cuyapaipe Mountain in Laguna Mountains is slightly higher, at 6,378
feet, and they are dwarfed by the higher 11,500 feet San Bernardino
Mountains a relatively short distance north in San Bernardino County
and Riverside County and the 14,500 feet high Mount Whitney some 250
mi further north. It is located roughly two miles east of the
observatory, however, it is not accessible for the public from that
direction (the observatory itself and adjacent land are private
property and the road to High Point from the observatory is blocked
by a permanently closed gate.) It may be reached via Palomar Divide
Truck Trail, a dirt road that starts off highway 79 near Warner
Springs, California. The trip is 13 miles one way with 3000' of
elevation gain via Palomar Divide Truck Trail.
At the base of Palomar Mountain on S6 is Oak
Knoll Campground, formerly known as Palomar Gardens. Palomar Gardens
was made somewhat famous by an earlier resident George Adamski.
Adamski had an observatory at Palomar Gardens and photographed
objects in the night sky that he claimed were UFOs. Adamski
co-authored Flying Saucers Have Landed in 1953, about his alien
encounter experiences. The 1977 film The Crater Lake Monster had
many scenes filmed on Palomar Mountain, including scenes shot at the
summit restaurant, but not the scenes of the monster in a lake.
Beginning in the 1920s a lookout tower has been
present on Boucher Hill on Palomar Mountain. The tower had been
active until it was abandoned in 1983, and then was reactivated when
volunteers began manning it on and off starting in 1990. Alongside
this tower is High Point lookout, also on Palomar Mountain, which
has since 2009 been the first observer of a half-dozen lightning
Doane Valley, located within the State Park, is
home to the Camp Palomar Outdoor School for 6th grade students in
the San Diego Unified School District.
Mountain State Park features spectacular views of the Pacific,
camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing (trout) in Doane Pond.
Coniferous forests cover much of the 1,897, in contrast to the dry
lowlands surrounding the mountain. This is one of the few Southern
California areas with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere.
The park is off Highway 76, up Highway S6, then
left on Highway S7 at the junction near the mountaintop.
area, near park headquarters, has wood stoves, piped drinking water
and restrooms. Gathering of dead wood or other plant material is not
permitted. Firewood must be brought into the park or purchased from
the park staff. Day-use hours are 8:00 a.m. to sunset.