Nick L.
Redlands, CA
Joined September 2018
Friends call me Lumberjack Nick! Local to the San Bernardino mountains of California near Joshua Tree NP, and lover of all things outdoors! Rawr!
Best off hwy 38

By far this has got to be the best and largest campground on the 38. First reason is the pricing. At only $21 per night for a single site, this is the best priced campground in the area excluding free yellow post sites. With this price however you get the basics. No showers, no rv dump station, just water from the pipe, toilets, picnic tables, fire ring, and a bear box. can’t complain about that though.

second reason; there are many many sites to choose from. this camp ground has several loops that each contain roughly 20 campsites, sometimes more. on any given day you should be able to drive up, though a reservation is definitely still recommended.

3rd; the location. Topography-wise this camp sits right over a small meadow that boarders the San Gorgonio wilderness. it sits higher above the highway and displaces sound nicely. this spot is excellent for wildlife viewing and entry to the wilderness for hiking and exploring. The campground is also littered with tall standing pines and even some massive junipers, providing ample shade. You can’t help but feel like your are elsewhere like the Eastern Sierra with the dry desert winds the blow in and chill on the mountains and the smell of the sage brush. This campground is only about 20 min out from big bear lake as well, and does have cell reception (unfortunately).

Highly recommend sites 32, 37, 47, 58, or 24 & 49 which are both double sites. This was due to their more isolated positioning to other spots, shade, flat ground, and proximity to bathrooms and the beautiful little meadow where deer graze in the evenings. happy trails.

currently closed but great when open

this camp ground was the first I stayed in while growing up. It sits right along the head waters of the Santa Ana river, and is a perfect spot for fishermen looking to get and early jump on the river in fishing season, or for hikers looking to take the Santa Ana trail into the San Gorgonio wilderness. It is also only about 20 min out from Big Bear Lake. the grounds are equipped with fresh water from pumps, restrooms, as well as picnic tables and fire rings.

One of my favorite parts about this campground is that it is surrounded by cedar trees, providing amazing shade to the grounds from the hot summer sun. However, As I said, it sits along the river, which mean it is in a valley like formation of the mountain. due to this it can get chilly quickly in these sites regardless of the season.

the campground is much smaller than many others in the area, some close together, and the whole campground has been recently renovated. it hasn’t been open for nearly two seasons in a row now, however it does look ready to go, so hopefully next.

Sierra feel in the local mountains

San Gorgonio, aptly named for the famed crown peak near by, is a nice mix of family friendly and weekend escape. Due to the proximity to the high mountain peaks and desert, you get a very distinct feel of the Eastern Sierra (for those familiar). Sage brush, junipers, mixed with black oak, cedar trees, and an array of pines make this area quite well shaded, but also grow well due to the heat the area can reach. Don’t be surprised by temps reaching as high as 90° in the summer and near freezing in the fall at night.

The first two things I noticed with this camp were 1) lots of over flow parking near the entrance of the camp, and 2) showers. That being said, this makes the camp ground a great place for those not so attune to roughing it while searching for a good outdoor experience. Very family friendly. There were lots of spots a 32’ trailer could easily back in, as well as spots perfect for setting up a tent in the shade. The nicest spots I noticed for over all flat ground, shade, distance from other camps, etc., were #’s 28 & 44 which both sat on an outer loop, and double site 10, which had nothing but wilderness beyond it.

Con to this camp ground was some sites were definitely exposed, and the proximity to the highway, which I honestly doubt would be too big a deal as the road sits higher than the camp, directing sound away.

over all for the area, 4.4 out of 5 for me.

For the stay not the day

If you know the area then you know that most of these campgrounds are fairly shaded, but can still get very hot with the high desert not to far away. Barton Flats is not by anymeans the best place to be for tent camping due to this, but would make an excellent trade off for those looking to bring up the family and the trailer. There is a dump station a the entrance of the camp, and the sites are not too close together to be inconvenienced by your neighbors.

Close to the valley as well as Big Bear I can see this as a good middle ground to get out. There are some spots that are much more shaded than others. my favorites I’ll list here were site #’s 4 which sits on the center loop, 47 outer loop, and double sites 7 and 43. Yes a double site costs double the price. All sites are within a quick walk to a bathroom and new water pipes were located throughout the camp.

The grounds themselves are lackluster with not much to see, but I did notice there are several undocumented sequoia trees that must be near at-least 70 years old in the middle of camp. You can distinguish them from the local cedars by their lighter green coloring, sponge like bark (cedar is a hard bark/wood), and their branches not fanning out like cedars do but more spread in long skinny fingers. Make a note to your kids! We are one of the very few areas that have the ability for these wonderful trees to flourish.