Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego's beautiful backcountry.
By Miriam Raftery
June 10, 2018 (Palomar) – Bailey House, built in 1888, is the centerpiece of Bailey’s Palomar Resort on Palomar Mountain.
It’s been family-owned and operated ever since, for 130 years in San Diego’s northeast county.
Today, guests can choose from renting the entire historic 7-bedroom home, a variety of guest cottages each with its own character and charm, or “glamping” tents on the 60-acre property that includes apple orchards, a walnut grove, forests and a fish pond.
Two points for preparation: There is no gas station atop Palomar Mountain, so be sure to tank up before you head up the hill. Firewood is provided at Bailey’s; guests are asked not to bring in firewood due to the risk of carrying in bark beetles, scourge of southern California forests.
No visit here would be complete without going into the adjacent Palomar Mountain State Park.
At 5,000 feet above sea level, the park offers spectacular panoramic views of ocean and desert. Its 1,862 acres encompass conifer forests, verdant meadows, a lake, hiking trails and the world-famous Palomar Observatory which is open to the public most of the year.
Winter brings snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Nights can be cool year-round but summer brings warm, sunny days with average temperatures of 80 degrees.
You may see wildlife, from birds such a blue jays, woodpeckers and wild turkeys to mammals such as raccoons, deer, mountain lions or even black bears. If you opt for camping at Bailey’s or within the state park, be sure to store food in bear-proof containers.
Hiking and fishing are popular activities in the park, where a California fishing license is required.
There’s also Palomar Mountain County Park in the vicinity, with picnic areas and pine trees offering a respite for visitors.
Be sure to check on weather conditions before you travel, since extreme snow can close roads temporarily or require use of chains in winter months. On the up side, winter also is sledding season, bringing joy to children and adults alike as the Palomar Mountain transforms to a winter wonderland, all an hour and a half from San Diego’s urban attractions.
There are some seasonal events, which may be listed at Friends of Palomar State Park's website, including Earth Day in spring and a Palomar Apple Festival each fall.
Bailey's Palomar Resort
33691 Bailey Meadow Road
Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the County of San Diego for providing a Community Enhancement Grant to support our “Backcountry Hidden Pleasures” weekend getaways coverage.