Parks and Rec

Featured Park: Lake Morena County Park

Address: 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo, CA 91906
Phone: 619-579-4101
Reservations: 858-565-3600
Fishing Report: 619-687-1496
Trails: 8 miles of non-motorized, multi-use trails
Parking: $3 for non-campers
Facilities: campsites, pavilion, meeting space, playground, boat rental, restrooms

Lake Morena County Park has it all—desert, coastal and mountain habitats. Located in the East County community of Campo, Lake Morena is surrounded by oak woods, shrubs and grasslands and a variety of wildlife. At the center of the 3,250-acre park is a large reservoir.

Take a visit to the park, which has camping, fishing and miles of trails, while the temperatures are mild and the fish are biting!

Even if you’re not camping or fishing, drive out for a picnic lunch and a day hike. Explore along the Pacific Crest Trail, which passes through the park on the way to Canada.

Before packing up your car for a visit to Lake Morena, Supervising Park Ranger James Stowers takes you off the beaten path with this Q&A on the park.

Camping Lake Morena

Q: What is Lake Morena best known for?

A: Lake Morena County Park is known for its beautiful lake, great wildlife and some of the best bass fishing around. But what some people may not know is that the park is a major hub for the Pacific Crest Trail. Thousands of hikers, from all over the world, come through the park every spring to start a portion or all of the 2,655 mile trail. In 2017, we had 1,200 hikers come through.

Q: What’s cool or unusual about this location?

A: What’s cool about Lake Morena is the history around the park. Inside the park office is our museum that tells the park’s history from the Native Americans, the construction of the dam, to current events. After touring the museum, one can walk to different areas and see the remnants of the Native American life, the old dam keeper’s house, and the dam itself.


Q: What do you need to know to fish or boat at the lake?

A: Boats, as well as personal watercraft, fishing float tubes, canoes and kayaks were allowed back in the reservoir last year. There’s a boat-launch fee of $8 and all boats must undergo a quagga mussel inspection prior to launch, which means they must be clean, drained, and dry. Plus, motorboats are also available to rent for daily fishing and sightseeing activities. Just remember, there’s no swimming in the lake.

Q: What types of fish are in the lake and what other wildlife live in the park?

A: In the lake you can find freshwater fish species like bluegill, crappie, catfish, trout, bass and carp. The lake is stocked so it’s a good spot to fish, year-round. So good that a new record trout was caught. In the air, look for birds like golden eagles, goldfinches, yellow warblers and ash-throated flycatchers. The plants and animals that reside in the park represent desert, coastal and mountain habitats.


Q: What is camping like at Lake Morena?

A:  Lake Morena County Park has camping sites for tent and RVs, along with 10 cabins. A youth group area is also available to reserve. A limited number of tent sites are available a short distance from the famous Pacific Crest Trail, with priority given to hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail. For reservations, call (619) 579-4101 or make a camping reservation online.

Q: What are some less known details about Lake Morena?

A: A fun fact about Lake Morena is that the current office used to be a café. From the early 1920s till about 1947, the dam keeper and his wife ran a concession store, gas station and café out of the building the current park office is in. It was a one-stop shop for anyone visiting the Lake.

Q: Can you make a day of hiking in the area?

A: The park has eight miles of trails that meander through the property including a new one-mile TRACK Trail for kids, which turns ordinary hiking into a scavenger hunt with prizes. Other trails venture up through wild terrain to Morena Butte (which is a hard six-mile up-and-back but the views on top are worth the trip), trek east to connect to the popular Pacific Crest Trail, or loop around the lake for variations in incline/decline, turf and vegetation. You might even catch a herd of deer hanging out at the lake.


Q: What are some of the upcoming events taking place at the park?

A: We occasionally hold fishing classes where park visitors can learn what the fish are biting on and how to catch them. We also host other kid-friendly activities like nature bingo, ranger-led hikes and a springtime Military Appreciation Day. Upcoming events include a hike with ranger along a section of the Pacific Coast Trail, Wilderness Survival Class for kids and families, Kayaking and Birding with a Ranger and an Animal Tracking event.

Q: What’s new at the preserve – any key projects, programs or priorities?

A: We have a tent area revamp project that is getting started soon. This project includes redesigning the sites to allow more room for the campers, improving access to water spigots, new signage, planting new trees and shrubs, and adding a new kiosk for the PCT trail and camping area. We also have revamped our museum and history center with new animal displays and artifacts of history that have been found around the park.

Michelle Mowad is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact