Exploring San Diego


Where to go, what to bring when it snows in San Diego County

Heavy rain, snow douse San Diego region
Posted at 1:09 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 23:21:05-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Whenever snow settles into San Diego County, many residents tend to flock to the mountains and East County to enjoy some wintertime fun.

Places like Palomar Mountain, Mt. Laguna, Alpine, and Julian find themselves bustling and playing host to tourists, but also traffic and trash left behind by those stopping in for the snow.

With that said, there are several things to keep in mind when heading to the mountains in order to stay safe, be kind, and have fun:

(It's important to note, we are currently in a pandemic. People are reminded not to gather, practice physical distancing, and to wear a facial covering when around other people not within their same household.)


  • Be kind and take your trash with you. All too often after snow, locals in these mountain towns find themselves cleaning up broken sleds, left behind gloves, and trash on the ground.
  • Don't get caught surprised by the weather. Check 10News Pinpoint Weather conditions.
  • Bring tire chains and be prepared for traffic. Many of these towns out east have a limited route in and out, so expect delays and be kind — and cautious — on the roadways.
  • Don't stop off at private property to play in the snow. Visitors need to stick to public lands and off private property, so make sure you know where you're heading.
  • Keep an eye on the county's Department of Public Works social media sites for road updates online on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure you're aware of road conditions and closures.


  • Water and snacks — enough for general hunger and in case you get stuck
  • Heavy jacket, sweater, gloves, hat or beanie, snow/hiking boots, heavy socks, thermal clothing, extra clothing if desired
  • Blankets for a car ride or stopping off outside
  • Toys for the snow, like sleds
  • Chapstick or sunscreen — it's still San Diego


  • Julian: When Julian gets snow, locals and tourists flock to the quiet mountain town — and largely residential, so be respectful. While crowds are expected, there are still spots to get in your snow fun. Head over to the town's community parks, such as William Heise Park, Jess Martin Park, or Julian Memorial Park.
  • Mt. Laguna: For quick access to snow on Mt. Laguna, stop off at the Mt. Laguna Lodge. Numerous trails, including Big Laguna Trail and Sunset Trail, make the mountain perfect for checking out the snow off the roadside.
  • Cuyamaca Rancho State Park: Enjoy the snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park at campsites like Paso Picacho or Green Valley, and they also include bathrooms, which families will likely find important. Or head to trailheads leading up to Stonewall Peak and Cuyamaca Peak or Lake Cuyamaca for a scenic view.
  • Palomar Mountain State Park: Hiking trails and family campsites at Palomar are a great option for enjoying snowfall. When snow hits, it transforms the large pine, fir, and cedar trees into a winter wonderland. Visit Doane Valley Campground or Cedar Grove Group Campground as a stop off to visit the snow and the park's hiking trails also make great options.
  • Local towns: If you choose to stop in towns such as Alpine, Pine Valley, or Santa Ysabel when snow falls, be considerate of local parking and property. Many residents may have fenced off property, so it's never recommended that visitors cross into private property or stop on the side of the road.
  • (Not in San Diego County, but still great) Big Bear Lake/Mammoth Lakes: Big Bear Lake and Mammoth Lakes are frequent destinations for San Diegans looking to snowboard or ski once fresh powder falls. Those heading up to either Big Bear Mountain Resort and Mammoth Mountain should expect a long journey and the possibility for traffic heading north. But once you're at either location, the mountains are great for winter sports.