Camping At Buckhorn, Los Angeles National Forest

Camping trips are a nice bonding opportunity for the family. I felt that on our trip to Idyllwild last year, where it was only the four of us for three days doing everything together.

This year, we wanted to have a similar experience, so we decided to take the kids to the Buckhorn Campground in the LA National Forest. 2 hours from my house and 1 hour from Pasadena.

What is nice about Buckhorn is that you are truly “incommunicado.” As soon as you start climbing the mountains, cell phone service is out. It is just you, your family, your car, and your fears, so make sure you bring everything you need-including a book!

Buckhorn is a first come, first served campground. No reservations needed, but you need to arrive early morning on a Friday (8-9am) to get a site. If it is a busy weekend, like 4th of July, you better arrive on a Thursday.

The bathrooms are not clean, there are no showers, and no park rangers on site, so it is a pretty wild situation for those city people that like the city life, but the place is beautiful and “remote”- if you consider a place that is 45 minutes away from a 15 million people city remote. In my dictionary (and the dictionary of every other human being I know), not having cell phone service “classifies” a place as remote, or simply hell. If you are in the “hell” category, don’t go to Buckhorn.


This time, I wanted the experience of eating food to be a memorable one. There is no reason why you can’t bring nicer table clothes, serving plates, and food. I wanted to be able to have a nice meal, and that is what we did.

I like wildness with civility. Ugliness depresses me (I am a Taurus, there is nothing I can do to help this), so I made sure to bring a couple of things to beautify the table and my soul. It worked.

Good salads, appetizers, skewers, fruit, marinated steak were all part of the menu, and, for dessert, marshmallows (duh!) and cookies. Simple and sweet.

Wouldn’t you agree that one of the best parts of camping is eating (and drinking); well, in reality, one of the best parts of life is eating (and drinking), so I would recommend putting extra effort in that part of the planning.


In the beginning, it was a little difficult for my kids to entertain themselves. A bunch of nature didn’t seem to be enough to stimulate their creativity. Well, by the end of the camping trip they were making up games and having fun in such a beautiful and valuable way. That change made the trip well worth it.

We went for a couple of hikes and I was impressed at how much these kids can walk. One day we went all the way up a mountain, away from trails. Kids loved that. Another day we went to a stream, the kids were so happy going in the water naked and free.

As a side note, don’t forget to bring a small First Aid Kit. At some point, your kids will need a Band-Aid, so you better have it on hand. This is the voice of experience talking.

The trip was fun and easy. We are going to try to go camping again in September near Ojai.

Thanks for stopping by!

For more camping trips, here is a post about our trip to Leo Carrillo, Idyllwild, and Lake Arrowhead.

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Idyllwild Park Camping- Because We Are Not Afraid Of Nature (Or Dirty Children)

After our adventures camping in Leo Carrillo, we were ready to try camping again. It is true, Víctor was pleading to go back home at the end of that camping trip, but in general the experience was positive for us (I can’t say the same about all my friends).

This time, we decided to go for 2 nights. We looked for another place to go that was close to LA that seemed fun and closer to nature and we found Idyllwild.


Call me ignorant or whatever you want but I had NO idea such a place existed southwest from Palm Springs. After an hour and a half of driving we were still at the bottom of the mountain surrounded by scorching heat and desert. I started freaking out about having to camp in horrible high temperatures with two sweaty children (I am not the kind of person that feels comfortable in extreme weather, hence, West LA is my home town), but just then we started going up and up the mountain. It was a steep mountain; in 30 minutes we were a mile in the air, at the camp, surrounded by tall trees in a perfect 75 degrees Fahrenheit kind of weather. Lovely.


The nice thing about Idyllwild camping is that it is close enough to the town that if you happen to need a coffee at 6 o’clock in the morning and your husband is still sleeping in the tent with the kids, you are able to sneak off and take a 10 minute drive to get your fix. Now, if you don’t want to have anything to do with urban life, you can just stay at the camp and enjoy the silence. In this camping trip we felt more removed from the city and we took many (short) hikes with the kids. If you decide to give Idyllwild a try, I would recommend reserving a campsite near the bathroom. Some sites were far away from them and it could be a problem, especially when you have kids with urgent needs.




As soon as we got there we unpacked our stuff, built our tents and set out for adventures. The kids were in heaven. You could tell from the beginning that they were really enjoying themselves. The beauty of camping is that it forces you to be with each other, to connect with your children and significant other. No computers, TV shows or any entertainment that is not each other or rocks to throw at your sibling.



I saw Víctor gain some independence. In one of our outings he decided to go ahead and walk back to camp by himself without waiting for us. For most kids his age that might not be a big deal but for Víctor, with his cautious and gentle nature, that was a big step to self-assurance.



After two days camping the kids were filthy. I sometimes think they start transforming into dirt so we went to take showers. YES! Idyllwild camping has warm, hot, rejuvenating showers. Don’t forget to bring quarters to be able to enjoy them. I would also recommend bringing some kind of table cloth. The tables were not very clean. Also, don’t forget the marshmallows, because even if your kids don’t eat them (my kids wouldn’t even try them), it is a lot of fun cooking them. Fire + Sugar= perfect combination.



This trip was highly successful and convinced me to do this more often. We just need one more camping trip before the end of the summer and one of my summer goals will be completed.

To make camp site reservations go to this website.



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