Laguna Mountain stands as a destination on its own at some of the highest elevations in the backcountry. The region experiences significant snowfall in the winter months. The Sunrise Highway is a picturesque drive with some of the most stunning views out to the Salton Sea in the East & the Pacific Ocean to the west. The geography is spectacular terrain that transitions from a desert environment, to meadows, to a mountain top conifer forest.

Laguna Mountain was designated a National Recreation Area by Presidential proclamation in 1926. The recreation area includes Laguna Campground and Burnt Rancheria Campground, which together have 209 campsites and offer a variety of recreation activities. Recreational activities in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area include; camping, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, driving along the Sunrise Scenic Byway, hang gliding, and horseback riding.

Most famous of all is a segment of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from California to the State of Washington. Wildflowers are usually abundant in April and May on the Big Laguna Trail, which takes visitors past Big Laguna Lake. Families can learn about the area's flora and fauna by attending educational programs at the facility's amphitheater. The El Prado Cabin is located at nearby El Prado Campground, is the first ranger cabin built in the Cleveland National Forest in 1911.

Within the recreation area is the Big Laguna Mountain Meadows & the Little Laguna Lake. It is forested with pines and oaks that provide plenty of shade, in addition to a meadow. The area is home to many species of birds, as well as the endangered Laguna Skipper butterfly.

The San Diego State University Observatory also sponsors "Star Parties" for campers most Saturday evenings during the summer (schedule can be obtained at the nearby visitor center or by calling 619-473-8547).

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