|Rancho Cuyamaca (Cuyamaca Rancho in native Spanish), a state park gem|
|Paso Picacho Campground Map|
Piso Picacho is open on the reservation system from spring to fall, with reservations not required in the off months. If you do choose to come in the wintertime, be prepared for snow. Although rare, Piso Picacho does sit above 5,000 feet in elevation. Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table and fire ring, although for you RV folks there are no sites with hookups. Any additional vehicles above the included one car are $8 apiece, with a usual limit of no more than 2 cars per campsite. Also, there is a limit of 8 people per campsite. If you're bringing your dog, you're in luck as they are allowed, but are only permitted to hang around the campgrounds, picnic areas, and paved roads, and cannot be left unattended. There is a 14 day stay limit while in season (March-November), which expands to 30 days in the winter offseason. Seniors, you can get $2 off your campsite fee if you're 62 and older, and 1/2 off with ADA (with vehicle placard or CA Parks ADA Access Card). Remember to check in if you come late! As with almost all sites, the gates reamin open after hours, you just have to make sure you come back in the morning to check in. Remember, Reserve America lists all of the Cuyamaca Campsites in one listing. MAKE SURE TO CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE CAMPGROUND. Make sure the campsite starts with P0 (indicating Paso Picacho) and also includes the word "Paso" in the description.
|Our site, #9, was half shaded, half exposed, giving us the perfect shade during the day while letting us gave up into the stars while sitting around the campfire at night|
|This picture is looking west over the campground (the grove of trees on the right), while the Cuyamaca Peak Fire Road winds its way up the middle towards the top of Cuyamaca Peak after originating from Highway 79|
On a different note - if you're weary about returning to Cuyamaca after the Cedar Fire, don't be. Although the fire ravaged the park, the fire crews were miraculously able to save the campsite itself, and all of the original trees within the campsite were saved. Save one or two sites in the Manzanita loop, all campsites are mostly shaded underneath the trees. In the picture above, you can see the difference. The grove of trees to the right is the campground, while all of the trees behind it leading up to Cuyamaca Peak were charred. Although the forrest of 10 years ago is gone, there is plentiful new growth as a new ecosystem is emerging and thriving. Just bring a little extra sunscreen and a hat, as most trails lack shade.
|Admiring the view south, looking towards the Visitor Center and Green Valley Campground from Stonewall Peak Trail. Vegetation has filled in nicely, but you can also see the grey skeletons of many roasted trees still adorning the hillsides throughout the park. Below, the steps leading up to the peak and the trail with Stonewall in the background.|
|The view north from the very top of Stonewall Peak. On the left, Highway 79 snakes down from Piso Picacho and winds around the lake and the small village of Cuyamaca on its way to Julian.|