Parks Close in High Heat

It’s August, and temperatures are hitting triple digits in parts of San Diego County. This happens every year, and we prepare for the heat by planning fewer daytime and more nighttime activities, activating our nature and community centers as Cool Zones, and by temporarily closing several parks.

Why close parks? It’s always a last resort but we do it in an effort to reduce heat-related incidents like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Properties that close in August are El Capitan County Preserve in Lakeside, Hellhole Canyon County Preserve in Valley Center and Mt. Gower County Preserve in Ramona.

These locations have difficult trails that end in isolated areas. They also offer very limited shade which can lead to dangerous conditions during major heat events.

“We respect park guests’ ability to make their own decisions about safety when it comes to visiting parks. Our intent is never to limit options,” said Brian Albright, Director of the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation. “This is an effort to minimize risks to park guests and to the field staff who are called to support them.

There are more than 2,000 parks in San Diego County so there are still plenty of places to play. Find the perfect County location on our ‘Find a Park’ map, categorical or alphabetical list. You can also visit the broader all-jurisdiction website,, which includes beaches and other cool destinations.  

There is a benefit to these closures: Without people onsite, staff can complete projects like trail maintenance, brush clearing, deep cleaning restrooms, painting and fixture installation without interruption.

“Trail work occurs in the early in the morning before the air temperature reaches the low 80s and the humidity reaches the low 60s – that’s when it considered a ‘caution rating’ on the heat index,” said Jake Enriquez, Region Manager for properties in northeastern San Diego County including Hellhole Canyon.

We’ll continue to work safely to improve your park experience, and we look forward to welcoming you back to El Capitan, Hellhole Canyon and Mt. Gower County Preserves in September.

Please also consider prioritizing your personal safety this season by making smart park choices, by wearing sun protection and by carrying plenty of water (6 – 8 quarts). 

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