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New Thrills, Old Forests: Nature, and Nurture


The La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians doesn’t have a gaming casino or resort like its local counterparts. Nevertheless, tribal leaders and members have found innovative ways to support their community.

For example, the tribe, which has 700 members, takes pride in its campground, and is committed to preserving its pristine environment. Built and maintained by the tribe, the La Jolla Campground, which draws more than 80,000 visitors annually, is a main source of the tribal government’s income.

A secluded treasure, the campground is located on the La Jolla Reservation at the southern base of Palomar Mountain. It’s one of the most natural and picturesque camping sites in Southern California.

Campers and day-trippers have been coming to the campground since it opened in 1930. They come year-round to escape the hustle-bustle of city life, and chill among the shade of giant oak trees; to experience the seasons; or to enjoy tubing on the San Luis Rey River.

“Keeping the campground natural—it’s the water, cool shade trees, and mountains. That’s what people love about this place, and it’s what more and more people want,” says La Jolla Chairman Tom Rodriguez. “They want outdoors, and authentic experiences. They want real wildlife.”

The campsites are purposely rustic, and many are on the river. There are also 36 RV sites with power and water hookups. The group sites vary in size and can accommodate from two to 30 vehicles. There are plenty of picnic benches and barbecues for group sites. Individual camping sites have fire pits.

Reservations are not needed for individual tent camping or day use, but are required for group rental sites. Looking for an outdoor party? The campground regularly hosts art and music festivals, accommodating up to 4,000 guests. lajollaindians.com

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