Top Ten Los Angeles Adventures

Palomar Mountain Campground, Palomar Mountain State Park
  |  Gorp.com
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OK, so maybe this is cheating. But the best stargazing in the entire U.S. is at Palomar Mountain State Park, which houses the largest telescope in the country. The Hale telescope, built in 1948, has the power to look out onto more than 100 billion galaxies. From your campsite down the road, you won't see quite so many. But thanks to very low levels of light pollution, you'll hardly be disappointed.

The campground itself is extremely developed (real showers!), but it is the prettiest and least congested of the four near the observatory. Sites are spread across a valley of live oaks and ponderosa pines beneath the west rim of the mountain. Choose a spot toward the back, preferably one far away from RVs and young 'uns, and you'll do just fine.

From the nearby Observatory Campground, hike the 4.4-mile trail up to the Palomar Observatory, where you can take a peek at the massive telescope and spend some time in the museum before heading back down into the valley. This mountain gets more than double the yearly rainfall of its urban neighbors, which makes for amazingly lush trails. The plant life alone is reason enough to make the trip.

Essentials

Directions: Take Interstate 15 south to Highway 76 east. After about 25 miles, take County Road S6 to the top of Palomar Mountain. Turn left, drive about 20 yards, then take another left onto County Road S7 (State Park Road) and drive 3.5 miles to the campground entrance.

Travel Time: Approximately 3 hours

Information: 760-742-3462 or 760-767-5311

Reservations: Group sites only, 800-444-7275, $7.50 reservation fee

Fee: $15-$16, $1 extra per pet

Open: Year-round


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