Marion Mountain (Idyllwild, CA)

Campsite:  MARION MOUNTAIN

Geographic Location: NEAR IDYLLWILD, CA (SAN JACINTO MOUNTAINS)

Type of Campground: US FOREST SERVICE – PRIVATELY MANAGED

Experience Level: GOOD FOR INTERMEDIATE CAMPERS AND PETS

(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(4) YUP- PETS ARE VERY WELCOME. WE SAW SEVERAL CAMPERS WITH THEIR DOGS. THERE IS DOG-FRIENDLY HIKING NEARBY.

Family Friendly:(3) IT IS AND IT ISN’T. IF YOU ARE A FAMILY THAT CAN ROUGH IT A LITTLE AND LIKES TO HIKE THIS IS GREAT. THIS CAMPGROUND HAS FEWER AMENITIES THAN SOME OF THE OTHERS (BASICALLY JUST PIT TOILETS) BUT THE TOWN OF IDYLLWILD NEARBY HAS MANY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR THE FAMILY.

Cleanliness: (3.5) IT WAS PRETTY CLEAN BUT WE WERE HERE DURING THE OFF-SEASON. OUR CAMPSITE WAS ESPECIALLY CLEAN WITH MARKED WALKWAYS THROUGHOUT THE SITE. THE BATHROOMS, HOWEVER, WERE STINKY. THE TABLE WAS CLEAN AND OUR FIRE PIT HAD A LITTLE TRASH IN IT. THERE WERE 2 BIG DUMPSTERS, BUT NO RECYCLING.

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Noise Level: (4) THIS IS A SMALLER CAMPGROUND WHERE EACH SPOT FEELS SECLUDED AND FAR AWAY FROM THE SPOT NEXT TO IT. IT IS EXTREMELY PEACEFUL, HOWEVER WE COULD HEAR NOISE FROM A LARGE GROUP OF KIDS NEARBY. OVERALL THOUGH, THESE CAMPSITES FELT THE  MOST SECLUDED OF ANY WE HAVE BEEN TOO SO FAR.

Restrooms: (2) THE RESTROOMS WERE….NEEDING IMPROVEMENTS. FIRST OF ALL WE ARRIVED AT NIGHT AND IT WAS PITCH BLACK. NONE OF US COULD FIND THE RESTROOM SO WE USED NATURE THE FIRST NIGHT. THEN, WHEN WE WOKE UP, TO OUR SURPRISE, THE RESTROOM WAS LITERALLY RIGHT NEXT OUR SPOT…I’M TALKING LIKE 30 FEET FROM OUR TENT! NEEDLESS TO SAY, THEY NEED LIGHTS ON THE RESTROOMS! THE BATHROOMS ARE JUST PIT TOILETS. THEY ARE STINKY. THERE IS NO SINK OR MIRROR OR ANY OTHER FANCY AMENITY…JUST A PIT TOILET IN A ROOM….AND THEY STINK! THOUGH, I HAVE TO ADMIT, THEY WERE NOT HORRIBLY DIRTY.

Campsite Space: (4) THESE SPOTS ARE HUGE! THEY FEEL VERY FAR APART AND SOME ARE HIDDEN BEHIND HUGE BOULDERS. IT WAS A PRETTY NEAT CAMPGROUND THAT FELT PRETTY SECLUDED, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT WHEN IT WAS PITCH BLACK AND YOU COULD NOT SEE YOUR NEIGHBORS AT ALL. NOTE THOUGH, MANY OF THE SPOTS HAVE A WALK UP A HILL OR AROUND A BEND FROM THE PARKING SPOT. ALSO, WE STRUGGLED TO FIT 2 CARS IN OUR PARKING.

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The first half of our spot (site 15)
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Up the hill to the left from the previous picture was more of our site
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This cool spot was behind that huge boulder

 

Shade/Sun: (4) TREES TREES TREES. THERE WERE LOTS OF FUN TREES. MANY SPOTS HAD GOOD OPPORTUNITIES FOR USING A HAMMOCK. SUN WAS NEVER AN ISSUE FOR US HERE, BUT IT WAS ALSO LATE OCTOBER.

 

Ground: (2.5) DIRT – WELL CLEANED OF ANY DEBRIS, VERY HILLY. WE HAD A HARD TIME FINDING A COMPLETELY FLAT SPOT FOR OUR TENTS, AND ENDED UP SLEEPING ON STEEPER INCLINES THEN WE WOULD HAVE LIKED. WE JUST HAD TO REMEMBER TO PUT OUR HEADS AT HIGHER ELEVATION.

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Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (3) IT WAS PRETTY VOID OF ANY WILDLIFE, ACTUALLY. THERE ARE NO BEARS  HERE, SO NO NEED FOR BEAR LOCKERS. WE DIDN’T SEE OR HEAR ANY COYOTES EITHER. WE DIDN’T EVEN SEE RACCOONS. IN FACT, THERE WERE VERY FEW BUGS TOO. IT WAS FAIRLY COLD WHEN WE CAME SO MAYBE IN SUMMER THERE ARE MORE BUGS. THE ONLY WILDLIFE WE REALLY SAW WERE LOTS OF BIRDS.

Amenities:

  • PIT TOILETS
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • WOOD PICNIC TABLES IN POOR CONDITION
  • WATER SPIGOTS (NOT DRINKABLE!!!!!)
  • BOULDERS TO CLIMB
  • MANY TREES!
  • LOST OF GREAT HIKING NEARBY 

Comments from the “Chix”

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Well this was a special trip. Just getting here is a bit of an adventure, and we wouldn’t recommend doing it after the sun goes down (we did that and had trouble finding the campground). This campground is located down a windy road off of the highway and during the day it offers spectacular views. There are lots of boulders to climb and so much hiking nearby, plus the cute town of Idyllwild has lots of shops and art galleries. We really enjoyed the isolation that this campground offered. Each spot was big and tucked away behind trees or boulders from the spots next to so they felt very private. The biggest downside for us was the lack of flat ground for our tents. Overall though, this was a very fun place to go camping. The hiking nearby is just awesome. In fact, this campground is the trail head for one of the hikes to the peak of Mount San Jacinto (a very strenuous hike though). We opted for the nearby Devil’s Slide trail which requires a special permit from the USFS station in town. Remember to get a wildnerss pass if you plan to park at any of the trail heads not in the campground itself.
 Pros: Come for the hiking, and isolation. You really feel a million miles away from the city here, even though its not that far of a drive. This is the trail head for a full day, rewarding hike to the top of Mt. San Jacinto, and there are many other trails nearby for hikers of all levels. The campground was beautiful and we enjoyed all of the trees and rocks to climb on. The nearby town of Idyllwild is also a cute place to spend an afternoon strolling and would be a fun place to bring kids.
 Cons: As much as we really enjoyed this trip, there were a few drawbacks of this campground. For one, no campfires during fire season. We had to use a permit in order to even use our single-burner camp stove (which has a shut-off valve). The biggest draw back I think was the lack of flat area for our tent. Maybe we just got the wrong spot, I’m sure there were other spots that were flatter. Also, the bathrooms were pretty unappealing and we favored using nature when we could. Lastly, no drinking water. In fact, the water was contaminated and there were signs warning you not to use it. Hope they fix that before next season.
Tips: Bring potable water, as there isn’t any drinking water available at the campground. Also, we’d recommend arriving before sunset. We had trouble finding the campground and it is down a long, windy, mountain road. Lastly, make sure to get a campfire permit for using your stove if its fire season.
Nearby attractions to check out:
– ALL the hikes, including Mt. San Jacinto and Devil’s Slide
– The shops in Idyllwild
– The USFS station for wilderness permits, hiking permits and fun forest related souvenirs.
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