FAQ
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Camping

How do I make camping reservations?
How much do camping reservations cost?
How do I pay for a campsite?
Are there any park fees besides camping fees when I’m staying overnight?
What’s the difference between a full hookup, partial hookup and non-hookup/tent site?
How can I cancel my reservation?
How can I change my reservation?
What time is check-in and check-out?
Can we have a fire in our campsite?
Are we allowed to bring firewood into the park?
Can we run a generator in our campsite?
Which lakes and bodies of water are managed by the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation? 

General/Day-Use

What discounts does County Parks offer?
Am I allowed to bring alcoholic drinks into the park?
Where can I go fishing or boating?
Where can I go swimming?
Can I take my dog to a park?
Where can I access a map of all of the trails in County Parks?
Are parks open year-round?
What activities are free?
Are any County Parks facilities listed as designated cool zones?

Environmental Stewardship

Are there protected species on County land? If so, what are we doing to protect them?
What are we doing about invasive species?
What is the Heritage Tree Program?
What happens when a tree dies in a County Park?

Park Weddings and Events

Is it cheaper to get married in a County Park?
What are some benefits to getting married in a County Park?
Does my photographer have to complete a film and photography permit?
What is required to bring a jumper or bounce house into a County Park?
I’m a vendor and I want to sell stuff at County Parks. What are the rules?


Camping

How do I make camping reservations?
Camping is available year-round at County Parks. First, pick your destination by visiting our Camping Page. Then make your reservation in person at 5500 Overland Ave., Suite 410, San Diego, CA 92123 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by phone toll-free at (877) 565-3600 or (858) 565-3600. You can also book directly on the Reservations Site. If you’re already at the park where you wish to camp, reservations can be made through ranger staff (pending availability). All reservations must be paid in full at the time of booking.  

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How much do camping reservations cost?
Camping reservations vary in cost, depending on the location you select. However, tent sites typically cost between $22 and $24, partial hookup sites cost between $27 and $29, full hookup sites cost $33 (only available at Sweetwater Summit,  Agua Caliente, and Lake Morena), and cabins cost between $50 and $100 (not available at Sweetwater Summit or Vallecito). View all camping destinations on our Camping Page.

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How do I pay for a campsite?
Campsites can be paid for via cash, check, money order, VISA, or MasterCard. Gift certificates may also be applied. All reservations must be paid in full at the time of booking.  

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Are there any park fees besides camping fees when I’m staying overnight? There may be a cost for firewood if you wish to have a campfire in your designated fire pit. Firewood from other sources is not permitted in County Parks – this is to prevent the spread of invasive species. 

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What’s the difference between a full hookup, partial hookup and non-hookup/tent site? A full hookup site includes water, electricity and sewer. A partial hookup includes water and electricity (no sewer). A non-hookup site has access to water nearby. Cabins differ by location but some offer electricity, water and a restroom inside – all come with wooden bed frames and an option for climate control.

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How can I cancel my reservation?
To cancel a reservation, please call (858) 565-3600 or (877) 565-3600, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

  • If a reservation is cancelled more than 60 days prior to the arrival date, the camping fee will be refunded minus a $5 non-refundable reservation fee and a $5 cancellation fee (total $10).
  • If a reservation is canceled between 30 to 60 days prior to the arrival date, the $5 reservation fee, $5 cancellation fee and the first night’s camping fee are non-refundable.
  • For reservations cancelled less than 30 days before the first day of a camping stay, all fees are non-refundable.
  • Reserved sites will be held until 1 p.m. on the day after the scheduled arrival date. The site will then be offered to other interested campers on a first-come, first-served basis until the next scheduled reservation for that site.   

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How can I change my reservation?
To change a reservation, please call (858) 565-3600 or (877) 565-3600, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. A $5 fee will be applied. Transfers are only allowed within the same park as the reservation. Transfers and changes cannot be accommodated more than 90 days before the reservation start date. 

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What time is check-in and check-out?
Check-in is at 2 p.m. and check-out is at 12 p.m. at all County campgrounds. Day-use hours are listed on individual park pages – for more information, view the Park Finder.

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Can we have a fire in our campsite?
Yes, campfires are allowed in designated fire rings between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. All campfires must be extinguished between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. An open-flame ban shall go into effect whenever a Red Flag Warning has been issued by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will remain in effect until the Red Flag Warning is lifted by the NOAA. Because Red Flag Warnings are weather-related, no refunds can be given due to an open-flame ban.

Additionally, stoves and lanterns allowed in all campsites. For up-to-date information on open-flame bans at County Parks, please contact the park directly or call (858) 565-3600 or (877) 565-3600, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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Are we allowed to bring firewood into the park?
Due to drought and various invasive species that can cause tree mortality at County Parks, our motto is to buy it where you burn it. Outside firewood is not permitted. Local firewood is available at all of the County’s camping parks for free or a nominal donation to the San Diego County Parks Society. Contact the park directly for more information.   

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Can we run a generator in our campsite?
Please call ahead to see if generators are allowed at your preferred location. Where generators are allowed, rules will apply to ensure the noise is not disruptive to nature or other campers in the area. Generators may only run between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. and at the discretion of park staff.

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General Questions/Parks Day-Use

What discounts does County Parks offer?
We offer a number of discounts and permit options for residents who wish to spend the day at a county park. Please visit our Discounts page for more information. 

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Am I allowed to bring alcoholic drinks into the park?
Alcoholic beverages are permitted in most County parks, providing the alcoholic content does not exceed 20%. No alcohol is allowed at the following parks: Collier, Eucalyptus, Goodland Acres, Lamar, Lindo Lake, Nancy Jane, Old Ironsides, Rainbow, Spring Valley or Sweetwater Lane. For more information, please call the park directly or call (858) 565-3600 or (877) 565-3600, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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Where can I go fishing or boating?
Lake Morena County Park
, a camping park located in the Campo area of San Diego County, also offers fishing and boating. Visit the park page for hours, the latest fish report, and other useful information. Due to the lake’s low water levels, the boat dock is closed to personal watercraft. Motor boats can be rented through the park office. Swimming is not permitted. Call ahead at (619) 478-5473. Guajome Regional County Park also has two ponds where people can fish – visit the park page for more information.

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Where can I go swimming?
Agua Caliente County Park offers three naturally-fed pools that provide different ways of enjoying the parks mineral water; two outdoor pools of varying temperatures average 90 degrees and are great for families; one indoor therapeutic spa is heated to 102 degrees and outfitted with Jacuzzi jets. Agua Caliente is closed during summer months due to extreme heat; please visit the park page for more information. Swimming is not permitted in any other body of water within the County Parks system. This is for your safety as well as for the safety of the species that live in/near our regional waterways.

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Which lakes and bodies of water are managed by the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation? 
Bodies of water we oversee include Lake Morena, Lindo Lake, Luelf Pond (Dos Picos County Park), two fishing ponds at Guajome Regional Park, the coastal habitat at San Elijo Lagoon and Ecological Reserve, and three hot spring-fed pools at Agua Caliente County Park. We also operate interactive water fountains at Waterfront Park and splash pads at Hilton Head, East View and Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

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Can I take my dog to a park?
Yes, we love dogs! Dogs are allowed in most County Parks except for on the trails at Agua Caliente County Park. Assistance dogs, including guide dogs, signal dogs and service dogs, are welcome at all County Parks and Recreation facilities – and we ask handlers of these dogs to comply with all associated regulations. When in a County park and on any County trails, all dogs must be on leash no longer than 6 feet. Please obey leash laws at all County parks – this is for your safety as well as for the safety of your pet.  Owners with dogs that are out of control or who pose a demonstrated risk to other park-goers may be asked to leave. The fee for dogs in County campgrounds is $1 per night, per dog, and the owner must carry the license and proof of current vaccinations.      

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Where can I access a map of all of the trails in County Parks? 
Great question! We’re in the process of designing a brand new trail map that will help you navigate to and through some of our favorite trail destinations. Please check back in a couple of weeks.

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Are parks open year-round?
Yes, parks are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year unless otherwise noted. Get up-to-date park information on our News & Events page.

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What activities are free?
Many of the activities that take place in County Parks are free! From play and picnic areas to organized programs and hikes led by rangers, we have offerings to suit all ages, interests and abilities. View our Programs and Activities Guides for more information. A $3 day-use/maintenance fee is required at some locations, which support ongoing park maintenance and operations. All other fees will be listed. 

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Are any County Parks facilities listed as designated cool zones? Yes, we maintain three community centers in central areas throughout the county. Check hours on their website or call ahead.    

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Environmental Stewardship

Are there protected species on County land? If so, what are we doing to protect them? 
San Diego County parks and preserves are home to a wide diversity of species. The ecosystems that call oceans, ponds, deserts, mountains and valleys their home are unique to each area, and many contain species that are protected. Learn more about these plants and animals, and what we’re doing to protect them, on our Multiple Species Conservation Plan page.

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What are we doing about invasive species?
Invasive species are plants, fungi or animals that are not native to a specific location. They disrupt the local ecosystem, changing processes that have been in play for decades – many causing harm to the areas they invade. Read Pests, Interrupted to learn more about the damage incurred by invasive species. DPR is part of a local taskforce called the Emerging Pest Steering Committee. This committee is a multi-agency group that launched years ago in response to drought and effects of the Goldspotted oak borer; last fall they updated their charter and expanded their focus to include all invasive pests including the recently discovered shot hole borer. Read additional information in this article.

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What is the Heritage Tree Program? 
We’re doing what we can to protect our trees and to be forward-thinking when it comes to ways to save them. County Parks’ vision is to have a no-net-loss tree canopy in San Diego, which basically means we’re re-planting trees 3:1 wherever possible, as new resources become available. Our county-wide Heritage Tree Program was initiated to catalog existing trees and to establish requirements for maintaining tree density and diversity in all County parks. Action plans are catered to each location where tree loss or Heritage Tree protection efforts are taking place. Read additional information in this article.

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What happens when a tree dies in a County Park? 
There are regular tree removals at all of our parks where dead/dying trees pose a safety risk to park users (due to drought, GSOB and other pests). This is more prevalent in our mountain region where the tree canopy is thicker. At campgrounds we can use the cut trees as firewood - in line with our "buy it where you burn it" campaign to prevent the spread of invasive species. The mulch can also be spread on trails and in other public areas. Dead or dying trees near or on public thoroughfares like parking lots and trails within TRVRP have been trimmed by park staff and mulched and solarized in a designated area. Our next step is to trim, mulch and solarize dead/dying trees within 25 feet of our trails. We’re always sorry to lose a tree and do our best to replant wherever trees are lost at a 3:1 ratio.

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Park Weddings and Events

Is it cheaper to get married in a County Park?
Short answer? Yes! Our 17-location park portfolio includes sites with cityscapes, mountain views, forest shade and historic ranchos. Parks are very customizable spaces with very few vendor limitations; we encourage brides and grooms to build their special day, just the way they want it, in a format that matches their budget. View the wedding venue cost comparison chart or call the reservations team between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, through Friday at (858) 565-3600 (locally) or (877) 565-3600 (toll free).

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What are some benefits to getting married in a County Park? 
We have designated “wedding trees” at Stelzer County Park, Flinn Springs County Park and El Monte County Park (all in Lakeside) as well as at William Heise County Park (Julian). There are prep kitchens at all three of our community centers (Fallbrook, Lakeside and Spring Valley) as well as at our newest wedding venue – Provence House (Bonita). Waterfront weddings can be held at Dos Picos County Park (Ramona), Lindo Lake/Lakeside Community Center, Sweetwater Summit (Bonita) and Waterfront Park (downtown). Power and restrooms are available at all of our wedding locations. Some of our wedding venues even offer bridal changing areas and overnight accommodations in the form of cabins, RV sites and tent camping sites, including: Dos Picos County Park, Heise County Park and Sweetwater Summit.  

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Does my photographer have to complete a film and photography permit? 
The San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department maintains and operates more than 55,000 acres of beautiful and unique locations and settings. Many of these are desirable for still photographers and filmmakers for backdrops and film footage. Most of the park locations are available for use by reservation, and in many of these locations, park rangers can be on hand to assist with and monitor activities. A permit is required for any event where photos taken will be used for commercial purposes. View our web page on Permits and Fees for additional information.

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What is required to bring a jumper or bounce house into a County Park? 
For parks that allow jumpers or bounce houses, a $25 permit fee is required along with proof of liability insurance and a signed hold harmless agreement – prior to the reservation. These items should be delivered to the Reservations team at 5500 Overland Avenue, Suite 410, San Diego, CA 92123 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or sent via email to our reservations team.

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I’m a vendor and I want to sell stuff at County Parks. What are the rules?
We love vendors, but there are some policies in place to ensure the right permits are secured before goods or services are shared or sold. Please contact the park where you plan to set up shop or call our reservations team between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, through Friday at (858) 565-3600 (locally) or (877) 565-3600 (toll free).

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