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10/19/22

Free Camping for First Timers

Within the County of San Diego’s Sustainability initiative is the goal to preserve, protect, maintain and cultivate natural environments where residents, visitors and future generations can spend quality time outside.


One of the tactics to support this initiative is the launch of a First Time Camping Program – part of our overarching Experience the Outdoors program, which seeks to accommodate, educate and inspire park visitors.

We recognize there are families in San Diego who do not camp, or even visit, parks. By inviting people to our sites, and providing all of the necessary equipment and instruction, we hope to overcome barriers to visitation such as lack of awareness and financial hardship.

The First Time Camping Program provides no-cost campsite reservations at two of our parks:

Group options are available and sites are subject to change. 

Camping equipment will be provided, and park staff will be on site to share helpful information like how to set up a campsite, how to start a campfire, leave-no-trace principles and outdoor safety tips. 

To register, call our Reservations Desk at 858-565-3600. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations must be made in advance, and the two abovementioned campsites will be available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Nov. 4, 2022.

Campsites can accommodate a maximum of eight people and two vehicles. Provided tents include one 6-person tent and three 4-person tents, so individuals have room to spread out. Other items that will be available at each campsite include eight sleeping bags, eight sleeping mats, eight folding chairs, three lanterns, one cooler, firewood and six marshmallow roasting sticks. All items are collected and disinfected after use. Campers may also bring their own equipment.  

The program is designed especially for first-time campers who are not already in our reservation system. If they are already in our system, they will still have opportunities to camp at our parks, free of charge, through our Parks 101 series – details on the Parks 101 First-timer Series page.

To learn more about the First Time Camping Program, contact Operations Chief Dave Knopp at dave.knopp@sdcounty.ca.gov or 619-806-6967.

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