Parks and Rec

Rare Chance to Visit Parks after Dark

County parks come alive after dark this summer with programs for night owls of all ages. Attend one of many Department of Parks and Recreation nighttime events for a rare chance to enjoy parks after hours.

Adventurers can search for shooting stars and nocturnal animals on moonlit hikes, explore the nighttime sky from an open space preserve, and more.

Dress in layers, since it can chilly once the sun sets. As always, wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water for the hikes.

Star Parties

Louis Stelzer Star Party 1 (2)Stargaze under the beautiful open skies of Oakoasis County Preserve and Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch Preserve.

On July 21, head out to Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch for a night with the stars. View our galaxy using the same technology used by the professionals. The program will be held at Highway 67 Staging area in Lakeside accessed by southbound Highway 67 only. It starts at sunset. Rain or clouds will cancel the event.

On August 12, San Diego Astronomy Association and Parks staff will host an evening of stargazing in the campground of Oakoasis County Preserve in Lakeside. The program starts at 7 p.m. with a twilight hike to search for bats and scorpions! After the hike, enjoy campfire songs, storytelling and s’mores. Call 858-565-3600 to make a reservation.

SDCAS Archaeology Summer Lecture Series

Visit Rancho Peñasquitos Adobe at night to hear experts from the San Diego County Archaeological Society talk about local finds at an active dig site just yards away.

Bring a folding chair and bug spray.

Talks are July 22 and August 26 from 8 to 10 p.m. They are free and open to all ages.

Hike Under the Full Moon

Santa Ysabel County Preserves

Hike Kanaka Flat Loop trail at Santa Ysabel County Preserve under a full moon on August 5. On the way up, Ranger Bill will discuss the area’s history, plants and wildlife. Hikers will be able to enjoy the picturesque sunset from the top of Kanaka and then hike back down in the beautiful moonlight. This moderately difficult hike is 7 miles roundtrip and open to the whole family including leashed dogs. Wear hiking boots, dress in layers and bring plenty of water, snacks and a fully charged flashlight. The hike starts promptly at 6:15 p.m. Meet at the staging areas. Call (760) 765-4098, for additional information and direction.

Night Hike in the Preserve

See what nocturnal creatures lurk in the dark during a night hike at Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch Preserve on August 26. Learn all about the history of the preserve as well as the different animals that call it home, including bats, snakes, coyotes and tarantulas. This is an easy, kid-friendly hike. Program will meet at the Goodan Staging Area, 16281 Sycamore Canyon Road, Poway at 7:30 p.m.

Space is limited. Call 858-513-4737 to make a reservation.

Summer Movies in the Park

movies in the parkEnjoy a movie under the stars during Summer Movies in the Park. The family-friendly and free series runs at 86 sites across the county, including 22 County Parks. Movies start 15 minutes after sunset but many locations offer arts and crafts, games and other fun activities such as live entertainment and food trucks for an hour or so beforehand.

Moviegoers are encouraged to bring along blankets, chairs and snacks.

See the full schedule at Summer Movies in the Park. Contact hosting parks for additional information.

Sleep Under the Stars

Camping Lake MorenaPlan a getaway with lots of fresh air, outdoor adventures and, of course, s’mores. Nine San Diego County parks offer camping with sites for tents and RVs—plus, several have comfy cabins for rent.

If you are new to camping or haven’t stayed the night at a San Diego County Park, here are some tips on what to bring, how to have good camping etiquette, how to safely start a campfire, and to a reminder to buy firewood near your campsite.

Make camping reservations online or by calling 858-565-3600.

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