$15 / night

Camper submitted image from Observatory Campground - 1
View All
Camper submitted image from Observatory Campground - 2
Camper submitted image from Observatory Campground - 3
Camper submitted image from Observatory Campground - 4
Camper submitted image from Observatory Campground - 5

Established Camping

Observatory Campground

14 Reviews


USDA Forest Service

Cleveland National Forest


Science buffs and families are drawn to Observatory Campground for its proximity to the Palomar Observatory, a world-class center of astronomy research operated by the California Institute of Technology. Just two miles from the observatory, the campground provides visitors with a unique learning experience in the great outdoors. The facility offers a variety of amenities for both tent and RV camping. Hiking, biking and picnicking can be found nearby.


An exciting amateur astronomy project, Explore the Stars, occurs at the campground on several weekends each summer. A group of amateur astronomers from all across Southern California shares the beauty and awe of the night sky to more than a hundred non-astronomers at the campground. Visitors can also walk a 2.25-mile trail to the observatory itself. Day hiking, biking, picnicking and scenic driving are available in the area. The campground makes a good base camp for visiting Palomar Mountain State Park and exploring the surrounding forest.


The campground is organized around one large loop with parking spurs for each campsite. Several sites are equipped with level cement pads to allow campers to set up their telescopes. The sites can accommodate vehicles up to 32 feet in length. Drinking water, coin-operated showers (peak season only), grills, trash cans, campfire rings, picnic tables, a flush toilet (peak season only) and two vault toilets are provided.

Natural Features

The campground sits at an elevation of 4,800 feet in the Palomar Mountains of Southern California. The site is forested with pine and oak trees, though several sites have been cleared to allow campers a wide view of the night sky.

Nearby Attractions

The campground is adjacent to Palomar Mountain State Park and under a two-hour drive from San Diego, California. A general store with basic necessities is down the road.

Reservation Info

The 32 campsites are available by reservation on http://www.recreation.gov/ Reservations must be made 8 days ahead of arrival and can be made up to 6 months in advance.

Suggest an Edit

Is Observatory Campground sold out?

Quickly grab cancellations!

Learn More


  • Drive-In
    Park next to your site

Stay Connected

  • WiFi
  • Verizon
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile

Site Types

  • Tent Sites
  • RV Sites
  • Standard (Tent/RV)
  • Group


For Campers

  • Market
  • Trash
  • Picnic Table
  • Firewood Available
  • Phone Service
  • Drinking Water
  • Toilets
  • Alcohol
  • Pets
  • Fires

For Vehicles

  • Big Rig Friendly

Rent an RV near Palomar Mountain, California

Find RVs Nearby


Add Review

5 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

2 Stars

1 Star



out of 5

14 Reviews

Stef H.
Reviewed Apr. 10, 2023


I recently had the pleasure of visiting Observatory Campground and I have to say it was an incredible experience. The campground is conveniently located just two miles from the Palomar Observatory, making it a perfect spot for science enthusiasts and families alike. The campsite was well maintained and had all the necessary amenities including picnic tables, firewood, drinking water, and toilets. I appreciated the option to choose between tent sites and RV sites, and the fact that the campground was big rig friendly. The reservation process was straightforward, and the campsite was easily accessible by car. What's more, the reasonable fees made it an affordable option for a camping trip. I would definitely recommend a visit to Observatory Campground for anyone looking for an enjoyable and educational camping experience. Five stars all around!

Reviewed Feb. 13, 2023

Quite Spot

This was our 2nd option as Fry Creek Campsite was closed. There was plenty of campsites at the location. However the majority had a “reserve” sign posted on them. No clue when they were reserved. Unfortunately there wasn’t any camp host available. Regardless, campsites were sparse and well kept . Bathrooms were also well maintained. Nice addition is the Observatory Trail. I would definitely come back in Spring when there isn’t any ice or snow left over from the Winter.

Month of VisitMarch
Reviewed Aug. 2, 2021


Stayed mid-week in late July 2021, not at all crowded. There is no camp host or ranger, kind of a free for all. Overall I guess I’d come back but here are the pros and cons:

Spaces Most spaces on the outside of the loop are woodsy and pretty private (stay away from inside the loop unless you want to be scorched and exposed). We stayed in #10 which is over a little bridge and well shaded BUT power lines running through it.

Water BRING WATER if possible! The tap water is brown and tastes like mud, even after running it through a Britta filter it’s still noticeably yellow and foul. Also showers were closed for maintenance in July 2021.

Noise Campers were mostly quiet and respectful, and not at all crowded mid-week in July. But plenty of street noise and sadly air traffic - planes and helicopters all night long. So don’t come for the peace and quiet!

Hikes The marked trail near the showers just goes 50yards out to the road. Best hikes are about 5 miles drive in Palomar State park (turn at the little store/restaurant) $10 day use fee but 3 good trail from Doane Pond parking lot (no dogs allowed on trails)

Month of VisitAugust


Observatory Campground is located in California

Detail location of campground


The closest address to the campground is 35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, California. The campground is about 2 miles north of this address along Canfield Road. From Los Angeles, California, drive south on I-15 to State Highway 76. Go east on 76 for approximately 20 miles and turn left onto South Grade Road (County Road S6). Follow to the top of Palomar Mountain. Once at the top, turn left to continue on South Grade Road/Canfield Road. Continue for approximately 2.5 miles and turn right into the campground.


Palomar mountain, CA


33.3416667 N
116.8786111 W

Open in Google Maps