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Indian Flats, in the Cleveland National Forest near Warner Springs, offers mellow summer camping

What better way is there to pique a child's interest in nature than to introduce him or her to a shallow, lazily flowing river full of tadpoles and frogs? At Indian Flats Campground, you can get to the river in a matter of minutes by walking and also make use of the usual conveniences of developed campgrounds -- such as water, rest rooms (no showers, though), and fire rings -- that are nice during an overnight campout with the kids.

No reservations are taken at Indian Flats, and sites may fill up rather quickly on summer weekends. You can try arriving early on a Friday afternoon or come up on a weekday. The 17 sites accommodate cars and recreational vehicles up to 15 feet in length. If you park your vehicle here for day use, you'll need to display a National Forest Adventure Pass. Call Cleveland National Forest, Palomar Ranger District, 760-788-0250, for more information.

From Warner Springs, the nearest town, drive 1.6 miles west on Highway 79 to the narrow and thinly paved Indian Flats Road (a.k.a. Lost Valley Road), on the right. Follow this winding road 6.5 miles north to the campground entrance.

Indian Flats lies in the chaparral vegetation belt at 3600 feet elevation, just below slopes speckled with drought-resistant Coulter pines. Live oaks provide shade at the campground, and plenty of picturesque granitic rock formations poke up on the neighboring hillsides.

From the far (west) end of the campground, you can head downhill on foot over rock slabs and decomposed granite to the bank of the East Fork of the San Luis Rey River. By turning upstream, you'll very quickly reach a spot where the stream twists and turns through an obstacle course of boulders. This branch of the river doesn't have much drainage upstream and dries up fairly quickly during the late summer drought, so the sooner you go this season, the better your visit will be.

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What better way is there to pique a child's interest in nature than to introduce him or her to a shallow, lazily flowing river full of tadpoles and frogs? At Indian Flats Campground, you can get to the river in a matter of minutes by walking and also make use of the usual conveniences of developed campgrounds -- such as water, rest rooms (no showers, though), and fire rings -- that are nice during an overnight campout with the kids.

No reservations are taken at Indian Flats, and sites may fill up rather quickly on summer weekends. You can try arriving early on a Friday afternoon or come up on a weekday. The 17 sites accommodate cars and recreational vehicles up to 15 feet in length. If you park your vehicle here for day use, you'll need to display a National Forest Adventure Pass. Call Cleveland National Forest, Palomar Ranger District, 760-788-0250, for more information.

From Warner Springs, the nearest town, drive 1.6 miles west on Highway 79 to the narrow and thinly paved Indian Flats Road (a.k.a. Lost Valley Road), on the right. Follow this winding road 6.5 miles north to the campground entrance.

Indian Flats lies in the chaparral vegetation belt at 3600 feet elevation, just below slopes speckled with drought-resistant Coulter pines. Live oaks provide shade at the campground, and plenty of picturesque granitic rock formations poke up on the neighboring hillsides.

From the far (west) end of the campground, you can head downhill on foot over rock slabs and decomposed granite to the bank of the East Fork of the San Luis Rey River. By turning upstream, you'll very quickly reach a spot where the stream twists and turns through an obstacle course of boulders. This branch of the river doesn't have much drainage upstream and dries up fairly quickly during the late summer drought, so the sooner you go this season, the better your visit will be.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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