The Cleveland National Forest, nestled in the bustling greater San Diego area, spans a modest 460,000 acres intersecting parts of Orange and Riverside Counties. Providing ample recreation, sprawling mountain vistas, and an abundance of wildlife and natural resources.

El Prado Cabin was the first Ranger's cabin on the Cleveland National Forest and was built in 1911. The cabin is still standing today and is located in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, El Prado Campground.

Until the arrival in San Diego of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the lands now within the Cleveland National Forest were known only to the desert and coastal Indian tribes who used them. The Kumeyaay, Luiseños, Cahuilla and Cupeño found a good living on the abundant acorns and game. Many of our trails today follow those routes first used by these early dwellers.

Cabrillo's arrival in 1542 had little affect on the area. It wasn't until 1769 that the Peninsular Range and its coastal plain attracted much interest. Fearing possible interference by England and possibly Russia, Spain encouraged Junípero Serra to establish his first of 21 California Missions.

The original site of the first mission was located near the present Old Town in San Diego.

Prior to the establishment of the missions, human impact on the land was relatively insignificant. The explorers Vizcaíno and Cabrillo reported that the native Indians did considerable burning of the brushlands along the coast and in the mountains, but the overall impact was probably not very great. However, with the arrival of a ranching culture, the landscape underwent more dramatic changes; subtle at first, as the native grasslands were slowly replaced by European and Asian weeds and other introduced plants. Some botanists argue that this invasion of exotic plants had more affect on the area than any other single factor.

Widespread overgrazing throughout the area, brush and trees cut for fence posts, and fires set to produce forage expanded the impact well beyond that of the Indians in the previous centuries.

In 1869, gold was discovered near Julian attracting hordes of miners from the Mother Lode and swelling the town to a population greater than that of San Diego. Also, during this period, zinc, lead, and silver mines were booming in the western canyons of the Santa Anas (hence, Silverado Canyon).

The influx of miners left its mark on the land. Trees were cut for mine timbers, heat and cooking fuel. Great expanses of brush were burned so miners could penetrate new areas to search for minerals.

As the mines petered out, so did many of the early ranches which had been overgrazed and had lost their chief labor force as the Indian population died off due to hardship and disease.

The principal end results was steadily growing threats to the watersheds, which by now were of critical importance to southern California communities.

Early reports from the 1870's - 1880's refer to fires that burned uncontrolled for weeks at a time. Lack of protection from fire was causing serious damage to irrigation works, the water supplies of rural areas, the small metropolitan area of San Diego, and other coastal towns of the late 1800's. The need for a forest reserve was evident to the first California Forestry Commission, appointed by Governor Stone in 1886. The commission recorded in its findings the necessity for special protection of the watershed cover to prevent the occurrence of major fires and subsequent erosion which were injuring the climate, agriculture and future prospects of southern California.

The widespread support for better resource management found a few opposing voices. Among these were timber and ranching interests who viewed the movement as leading to greater restriction on their activities.

Regardless, the Forest Reserve Act was passed in 1891. Although the Act was meant to slow wasteful and illegal timber cutting, the problem was different in southern California. It was to protect their watersheds that Californians immediately began demanding Forest Reserves.

Cleveland National Forest became one of the first in the new system and had its basis in the 50,000 acre Trabuco Cañon Forest Reserve (in the Santa Ana Mountains), created by President Harrison in February 1893. In February 1897 President Cleveland created San Jacinto Forest Reserve, a 700,000 acre area which included the desert lands southeast of Palomar Mountain. In 1899, the Trabuco Reserve was more than doubled, in response to a petition sent to the General Land Office by residents near Trabuco Canyon.

These early Forest Reserves had been administered by the General Land Office (GLO) in the U.S. Department of Interior. However, the GLO lacked any trained foresters to aggressively take charge. As a result in 1905 the reserves were transferred to a new Bureau of Forestry (now the Forest Service) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1907 their designation as Forest Reserves was changed to National Forests.

In 1907 President Roosevelt made extensive additions to both the Trabuco Canyon and San Jacinto Forest Reserves, to include Palomar and Laguna Mountains and those farther south to the Mexican Border. A year later (1908) President Roosevelt combined the two Reserves to form the new 1,904,826 acre Cleveland National Forest.

During the next seventeen years there were several deletions to the Cleveland. A major one in 1915 when 749,730 acres of non-forest value lands were returned to public entry, and another in 1925 when the San Jacinto unit was transferred to the San Bernardino National Forest. Today the Cleveland National Forest consists of approximately 424,000 acres of forest land.

Information provided here is courtesy of USDA Forest Service. For more info about the Cleveland National Forest, please visit their web-site.

Site Staging

Here’s a set-up for a group of 8, which takes our team about 2-3 hours to stage. We custom tailor every set-up to suit your group needs and preferences. Our connect accommodates 2 people and features a giant double sleeping bag for couples. Our Stingray accommodates 3 people (up to 880lbs) and is ideal for kids. This combination make for a very fun and personal family camping trip. Each site also features our tree tent hammock, which can be double stacked upwards of 10 feet, if you prefer. We can also place them lower if you have small children. Relax. Explore. Enjoy. We take care of the rest. 


Come Glamp with Us!

Every booking at Alter Experiences is new and unique. We look forward to exceeding your expectations and tailoring an outdoor hospitality experience specific to your group needs. We strive to create nature immersive, meaningful and hassle free experiences in the outdoors. Visit our web-site to learn more about our tourism model.

  OUR GLAMPING SITES

Your site is private for your group only and includes; a fire pit, picnic table, glamping kitchen and parking for 2 vehicles. Bathroom / shower facilities are communal. There are hot water showers & clean flush toilets that are close to your site. The showers are quarter operated and cost $2 for 15 minutes.

Your site comes outfitted with everything you need for sleeping, lounging, cooking and eating. All you have to bring is a cooler, ice and food. 

BOOK direct NOW and use discount code ILOVEGLAMPING for 10% off.

$140

Avg. per night / 2 ppl

Lions Den | Burnt Rancheria

Lion's Den is our most popular & secluded site in the Cleveland National Forest, Burnt Rancheria campground. This site features 2 bell tents, as well as a multi-level combination of tree tents and hammocks. The first bell tent features a queen mattress & sofa bed. The second bell tent is a lounge by day and with 2 sofa beds for sleeping. Lion's Den also features a double tree tent & 2 story triple tree tent. 2 Trillium hammocks also included, as well as slack-line and yoga trapeze. It can accommodate up to 8 more than comfortably.

Max. Capacity

8 ppl

Additional Person

$35 per night

Minimum Nights

2

Cleaning Fee

$100

  • Tree tents include Teton sleeping bags, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pads and pillows.
  • Solar powered lights are also provided

 .

$130

Avg. per night / 2 ppl

Fox Den | Laguna Campground

Fox Den is our group glamping site in the Cleveland National Forest, Laguna campground. This site comes with 2 luxury bell tents. 1 bell tent comes with queen mattress & the other has 2 full beds. The site also features a combination of tree tents & hammocks.

Max. Capacity

8 ppl

Additional Person

$35 per night

Minimum Nights

2

Cleaning Fee

$100

  • Tree tents include Teton sleeping bags, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pads and pillows.
  • Solar powered lights are also provided

 .

$120

Avg. per night / 2 ppl

Deer Peak | Burnt Rancheria

Deer Peak is our family glamping site in the Cleveland National Forest, Burnt Rancheria campground. This site comes with 2 luxury bell tents. One bell tent comes with a queen mattress & the other features 2 full beds. This site also features a triple tree tent that can sleep an additional 3 people, as well as a hammock for lounging.

Max. Capacity

8 ppl

Additional Person

$35 per night

Minimum Nights

2

Cleaning Fee

$100

  • Tree tents include Teton sleeping bags, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pads and pillows.
  • Solar powered lights are also provided

 .

$110

Avg. per night / 2 ppl

Eagles Nest | Burnt Rancheria

Eagles Nest is our tree tent playground in the Cleveland National Forest, Burnt Rancheria campground. This private & secluded site features 1 bell tent with a full mattress. The site also features 2 double tree tents, a 2 story triple tree tent, and various hammocks. Eagle Nest is our flagship tree tent complex, ideal for families and friends alike.

Max. Capacity

8 ppl

Additional Person

$35 per night

Minimum Nights

2

Cleaning Fee

$100

  • Tree tents include Teton sleeping bags, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pads and pillows.
  • Solar powered lights are also provided

 .

$100

Avg. per night / 2 ppl

Blue Jay Nest | Laguna Campground

Blue Jay Nest is our tree tent playground in the Cleveland National Forest, Laguna Campground. This fun and cozy space is a multi-level tree tent maze. The site features 2 double tree tents, a 2 story triple tree tent & various trillium hammocks.This tree tent complex is nestled in giant pine trees and is ideal for families with kids.

Max. Capacity

8 ppl

Additional Person

$35 per night

Minimum Nights

2

Cleaning Fee

$100

  • Tree tents include Teton sleeping bags, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pads and pillows.
  • Solar powered lights are also provided

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