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Camping at Burnt Rancheria Campground

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Overview of Burnt Rancheria Campground

Burnt Rancheria Campground is situated in the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California, which spans across the counties of San Diego, Riverside, and Orange. This campground offers a serene outdoor experience with a mix of pine and oak woods and meadows. It's popular among campers due to its scenic vistas, hiking trails, and proximity to popular attractions such as the Pacific Crest Trail.

Location and Access

Burnt Rancheria Campground is located off the Sunrise Highway (State Route S1), roughly one hour east of San Diego. The GPS coordinates for the campground are:

  • Latitude: 32.867222
  • Longitude: -116.419167

Access: From Interstate 8, take the Sunrise Highway exit and head north for about 8 miles. The campground will be on the left side.

Campsite Information

The campground typically operates from May through November, weather permitting, and offers over 100 sites suitable for tent and RV camping, although no hookups are provided. It is important to note that the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis or reservations can be made through the national reservation system.

Facilities include:

  • Picnic tables
  • Fire rings
  • Flush toilets
  • Drinking water
  • Trash collection
  • Some sites offer accessible features

Capacity: Most sites accommodate up to 8 people and 2 vehicles.

Activities and Attractions

Hiking: The campground is an excellent starting point for the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails which offer views of the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountain Range.

Wildlife Viewing: The area is known for its diverse wildlife. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts may find a variety of species including woodpeckers, hawks, and mule deer.

Scenic Drives: The Sunrise Scenic Byway provides picturesque views of the forest and surrounding areas.

Stargazing: With its elevation and relative distance from city lights, the campground provides an excellent place for stargazing.

Regulations and Safety

  • Fire Restrictions: Depending on the season and conditions, fire restrictions may be in place. Always check the current fire conditions before lighting a campfire.
  • Wildlife Caution: Proper food storage and disposal are crucial in bear country. Though not a common encounter, being bear-aware is always advisable.
  • Weather Conditions: Check the local weather forecast, as temperatures can drop significantly at night, even in summer.


Most areas of the campground are not wheelchair accessible, but there are some sites with enhancements to accommodate those with disabilities. Always check ahead for the most up-to-date information regarding accessible facilities.

Reservations and Fees

Reservations can be made through the National Recreation Reservation System, and fees vary depending on the site and services. Generally, expect to pay a nightly fee for each campsite, with additional costs for extra vehicles.

Contact Information

To find more information or to check current conditions:

  • Cleveland National Forest Website: USDA Forest Service
  • Phone: You can call the Descanso Ranger District at (619) 445-6235 for the most accurate and current information.

In Summary

Burnt Rancheria Campground provides a classic camping experience with the benefits of Southern California's diverse environments. Whether you're looking to hike, enjoy the local flora and fauna, or just relax under the stars, this campground offers a tranquil retreat for outdoors enthusiasts. Always plan ahead, make reservations if necessary, and adhere to all posted rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Location of Burnt Rancheria Campground
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