My wife and I stayed here in early May 2021. This was our second time at Paso Picacho after visiting here a few years ago. We were even more impressed this time around. I can't say enough about this place. The grounds are serene and well kept, the atmosphere is relaxed and most of the campers were very respectful. The campsites are huge, if you know which ones to nab with an early reservation, and the staff there are just the most delightful people on earth.
On our first night there, a couple of huge pickups showed up to the spot right above ours at midnight, and they blasted music, partied, and screamed at the top of their lungs often (for whatever reason), and we couldn't sleep. We were super bummed and had thought it was pretty much going to be an awful trip. However, we talked to the campground host and the staff at the entrance, and they were super understanding and helpful. They said that they know people come here for peace and quiet, and that they take it seriously when any campers violate their quiet hours rules.
The camp host hopped on a cart right away and sped away to the offending sites to give them a talking to and made sure to mention that if they violated the noise rules again, they would send in rangers and have them booted out of the campground. It worked like gangbusters! The rest of our trip was amazing, and we didn't hear so much as a peep from the neighboring sites (it was a big group) all weekend. The camp host followed up with us afterward and said that we could come by his site anytime and tell him if the other campers were loud again, even if it was 3am in the morning. He said, "It's no trouble. That's what I'm here for."
Awesome, awesome, awesome. The fire pit worked out great, and we were able to cook all of our meals on the grill that comes with it using the cast iron skillets we bought. They had plenty of wood for sale at the front, as well as ice. The wood price is a little steep ($8 per bundle), but all that money goes back into the park. Knowing that, it actually felt good paying them for the wood rather than buying it elsewhere.
The trails were well kept, and the views were fantastic even with the fire damage. We got to do everything that we wanted to do and then some. We even had time to go to Julian and do some shopping - check out the Cider Mill for some delicious treats!
As far as campsites go, our site (#30) was so, so great. We researched a lot online beforehand (campsitephotos.com was helpful along with this site, Google reviews, and Yelp), so we had a pretty good idea of what the site was going to look like. But it was even better than the pictures. It was a huge site with plenty of room for 2 tent pads. The picnic table and fire pit were positioned just under a huge, climbable tree that gave us plenty of shade while we were there. The only downside to this site is that it was very close to the bathrooms. That actually bummed me out a bit when we first arrived, but it ended up not being much of an issue at all. The traffic to and from the bathrooms was very light, and the section of the bathroom building facing our site was all showers, which barely anybody used. There is also a lot of bushes and tree cover in between the site and the bathrooms, so we barely saw anybody the whole time we were there.
Reading reviews online is what helped us find such a great spot, so I promised myself I would walk the grounds and post all of the good site numbers online when we got back. So here they are, at least in my opinion:
30: our site- the best!
70: easily the 2nd best site on the grounds- very private, secluded, lots of bush cover, fire pit and table are far from the road- the only downside to this site it that it has very little shade, so bring a canopy or tarp to setup your own shade situation. Other than that, this site was incredible. We will probably check this one out when we go back here in the fall.
85: My pick for the 3rd best site on the grounds, although my wife disagreed. This site is surrounded by forest, trees, and bushes on 3 sides. If you don't count the front facing view, it is one of the most secluded sites in the campground. It is on the outside of a bend in the road, and there are no other sites to the left and right of it. I personally prefer a"bathroom bush" close by to save myself from having to walk to the bathrooms in the dark, and this place has tons of'em. The downside here is that the front of the campsite faces 2-3 other sites that are right across the road. If the site were a house, basically the"front door" is wide open to the campers across the way. If you had a bad group camping across from you, it might be not so fun. However, you can park your car in such a way that it would block out some of that wide open space in the front, making it more private.
44: my wife's pick for 3rd- big site, lots of shade, secluded, a little too close to the neighboring site on the left side(facing the site from the road) but nothing but road on the right side
8: Nice, big site that is not close to other campsites. Private, secluded. Lots of trees and shade. The downside to this one is that it is right across from a cabin. Depending on the campers using the cabin during your visit, that proximity to the cabin might be a bummer. However, there were no big parties at the cabins while we were there.
51: Good site, lots of trees and shade. Semi-private.
54: Good site, lots of trees and shade. Not all that private- kind of open and on a little bit of a slope.
20: Just kinda okay. Trees and shade but not very private or secluded. Good if all of the above are booked.