Fry Creek Campground is situated in the heart of Cleveland National Forest, uniquely located down the road from the world-famous Palomar Observatory. The fresh, clean air of the campground provides a refreshing getaway for visitors from San Diego and Los Angeles.
The observatory, atop Palomar Mountain, boasts five high-tech telescopes, among them, the massive 200-inch Hale Telescope, was the world's largest effective telescope for about 45 years. The observatory is owned by the California Institute of Technology and astronomical research includes near-Earth asteroids and the study of distant galaxies.
At Observatory Campground, the site across from Fry Creek, there's a popular astronomy event called Explore the Stars.
Amateur astronomers gather here with their telescopes and share views of planets and constellations with visitors. The event takes place one weekend each month, April through October.
A loop hike, great for exploring local flora and fauna, surrounds Fry Creek.
The campground sits beneath a dense pine canopy, which is not ideal for stargazing, but Observatory Campground across the road has level cement platforms for telescopes and an amphitheater that's open to campers.
Fry Creek is at a 4,900 ft. elevation on Palomar Mountain. The area is dense with evergreen and oak, and is usually cooler than the surrounding area.
The visitor center at Palomar Observatory is 2.2 miles away and can be accessed by road or by hiking trail. A restaurant and gift shop are onsite.
ADA Access: N
I really love this campground because it has so many areas to go explore. There's lots of geocaching spots and hiking up to the observatory is a beautiful view. The sites were very accommodating to three tents and there are lots of trees to give you plenty of privacy. Watch out for bees!
Fly Creek is a great campground that's not far from the city. It's about two miles from the Palomar Observatory. There's a nice trail that goes there form the campground and has good views of the little valley. There are plenty of spots and all of them are shaded. There are a few spots in the back that are even more secluded. There's not a lot of parking for extra vehicles though. The restrooms were clean. The only cell service is about two miles away at the local store. This is where you can buy firewood and supplies.
Some of the campsites are very private. They all have a fire pit and picnic table. I stayed at site 6. Very spacious, private and off the road. Stayed Tuesday-Thursday and we were the only campers in the entire campground.
Just south of Palomar Mountain Observatory (a must visit) Fry Creek is a heavily wooded (oak, fir, pine) campground in a narrow valley surrounded by steep forested banks.
The campsite is really an extension of the Palomar Observatory Campground across the site with a shared camp host (who pretty much sucked during our visits). That site is much better for stargazing, but this one is just as pretty especially in the fall with changing oak leaves. All of the sites are heavily wooded and in a valley with steep walls. That's important because it seems to amplify sounds from the other campsites. No matter if you have good camp neighbors but if your camp neighbors starts setting up a portable chainlink fence for a cadre of dogs they are training…There are some more segregated sites near the back of the camp loop.
There are bathrooms and showers (peak) and even though the sites are near each other they are really private. They each have fire-pits and picnic tables. The sites are decent sized with nice flat spots for at least two tents.
There is a decent hike that loops around the camp with plenty of elevation changes and incredible forest smells. The trail is fairly easy to follow and despite being short is moderately challenging. It takes about an hour at normal pace. Head across the road and you can take the trail all the way to the Palomar Mountain Observatory. It's meandering and plenty of elevation changes. At the top the Observatory Museum has nice bathrooms open to visitors. The museum is free.
Campsites are $15/night.