Idyllwild is a small town nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, California. Some of the popular activities here are camping, hiking, biking, climbing, and fishing. However, it’s not just for the nature-lovers in the outdoors. The community has an artsy feel upon arrival. There has been a long-standing premier boarding high school for the arts, Idyllwild Arts Academy, founded in 1946.

If you are lucky enough, you might be there for Idyllwild Pride weekend like we were!

idyllwild pride

Idyllwild Park Information

Driving From San Diego to Idyllwild

If you are going to be driving from San Diego County to Idyllwild, you’ll likely take Interstate 15 North to 215 North, and exit Highway 74 East to Highway 243 North to enter the park, depending on what part of San Diego you are coming from However, always put in your GPS for the fastest route. The drive should only take around two hours. If you are looking to extend the trip, Palm Springs is located nearby Idyllwild.


My group and I made reservations at least one month ahead of time to ensure our large group was able to get the dates we wanted. I highly recommend making the reservation as soon as you know the dates that you want to travel. Note, visitors are able to make reservations ahead of time at least six months in advance.

Here is the link to book easily:

Idyllwild Permit Information

The Department of Parks and Recreation has implemented a Wildness Permit System to protect and preserve as much wildlife and natural environment as possible. Due to the overuse of each season, plant life and the growing season have very little opportunity to recover. Therefore, everyone entering the Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness must have a permit in their possession at all times. This includes those who are there for only the day or overnight camping. Day-use permits are free and Wilderness Camping Permits are just $5 and found available 24 hours at the Park Headquarters in Idyllwild.

Hiking in Idyllwild

There is a range of popular hikes in the town of Idyllwild, ranging from easy to strenuous due to the significant elevation gain. Keep in mind that strenuous hikes are recommended for expert hikers.

You’ll get an elevation of 5,400 feet with the trail system shared between both Mount San Jacinto State Park and the San Bernardino National Forest. Since there is much overlap, day-use wilderness permits are honored for each area.

Easy Hike

Panorama Point Trail is a 1.0-mile roundtrip loop with minimal elevation gain. This one is ADA accessible and suitable for children.

Strenuous Hikes

Deer Springs Trail to Suicide Rock is a 6.6-miles roundtrip, out-and-back, with a 1,900-foot elevation gain.

Devil’s Slide Trail to Wellman Divide is a 10.6-mile roundtrip, out-and-back, with a 3,300-foot elevation gain.

Marion Mountain Trail to San Jacinto Peak is a 16.0-mile roundtrip, out-and-back, with a 4,500-foot elevation gain.

Pick your poison! Depending on how far or how hard of a hike you want to encounter, be sure to pack enough snacks and water for the trek.

Camping in Idyllwild

There are two developed campgrounds in Mount San Jacinto that are off Highway 243.

idyllwild tent camping

Idyllwild Campground

A developed camp, located just walking distance from shops and restaurants, Idyllwild Campground, is the most popular of the two, for those looking to camp with amenities like full hook-up and electric sites, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers.

  • Open year-round
  • 28 sites total (tent, electric, full hook-up sites, and ADA-accessible sites available)
  • Water spigots, flush toilets, coin-operated showers, picnic tables, fire rings and/or barbeques, day-use picnic area, amphitheater, nature trail
  • Maximum trailer length: 24 feet
  • Maximum vehicles: 2
  • Maximum occupancy: 8
  • Check-in time: 2:00 PM
  • Check-out time: 12:00 PM

Stone Creek Campground

Stone Creek Campground may be a little more primitive compared to Idyllwild Campgrounds as it does not offer full electric hook-ups. Located just five miles north of Idyllwild, this campground is still a great option with more campsites available that are open seasonally. However, there are toilets but no shower facilities offered here.

  • Open Spring/Summer/Fall
  • 44 sites total (tent, electric, and ADA-accessible sites available; no full hook-up sites)
  • Water spigots, vault toilets, picnic tables, fire rings and/or barbeques, day-use picnic area, amphitheater, nature trail
  • Maximum trailer length: 24 feet
  • Maximum vehicles: 2
  • Maximum occupancy: 8
  • Check-in time: 2:00 PM
  • Check-out time: 12:00 PM
idyllwild camping benches

Primitive Wilderness Campgrounds

In addition to the campgrounds listed above, there are four more primitive campgrounds in Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness that are considered remote for those willing to make the trek in by foot.

Note, dispersed camping is not allowed in the State Wilderness. Be sure to always have your wildness permit accessible to you at all times.

idyllwild tent set up

Conclusion for Idyllwild Camping

We hope that you have a better understanding of Idyllwild, California. In general, camping in Idyllwild can be remarkable in all seasons. Thankfully, the campgrounds are open all year round. Just be prepared for each season!

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