Biking along one of the many trails at Santee Lakes

Biking along one of the many trails at Santee Lakes

REVIEW updated as of latest stay Jan 2012

This was one of the first parks we stayed at in San Diego and continues to be one of our absolute favorite in the area. It’s a public park run by the water district, but has all the feel of an upscale, yet very natural private park. When we’re looking for green and space, this is where we stay.

Link to the park here: Santee Lakes RV Park
Link to map location here: Santee Lakes RV Park

  1. Site Quality = 4.5/5
    Lovely, large, spacious, green sites especially in the back camping areas intermixed with trees, grass and streams. Easy access for large rigs. Most sites are dirt which makes them a bit muddy if it rains, but this being San Diego that’s not a big issue most the year. Good water pressure with full hook-up (50 AMP/water/sewer – some also have cable) and picnic table at each site. There are 300 total campsites and several camping areas each with their own “feel”. From south to north (campsite map HERE):
    a) Lakeside Loop – This loop is situated beautifully right on the lake, but is also the oldest loop in the campground. For that reason it has the smallest (and tightest) sites. If you’re small enough to fit into a lakefront site (~25-30 ft max) definitely go for it, but for big rigs I’d recommend the other loops.
    b) Mulberry – This small loop in the middle of the campground is the only one with paved sites. Some of the far back sites (62-73) have lake views, but we find them too tight for our liking. We generally never stay in this loop.
    c) Sycamore Loop – This loop has shaded, dirt sites but does get some road traffic since there is a camp gate entrance right in front of the loop. The middle pull-throughs (even numbers 102-110) are the most spacious.
    d) Willow Loop – This is our favorite loop in the whole campground and where we aim to stay most of the time. Lots of green and space with sites well separated (and we fit into all of them). Definitely the most “natural” feel of the entire campground. Willow Loop has trees and shade and some gorgeous sites especially in the outer side of the loop (151-168 facing out). East Willow Loop has more regulated rows, but large, spacious sites several of which back-up to the stream.
    e) West Oak/East Oak Loop – These are the newest loops in the campground and therefore also the largest. Plenty of space here and all of the sites are well landscaped with bushes, trees and flowers between. Trees are generally younger here so not much in the way of shade except for sites near the stream in Old Oak. It is also very quiet here since you’re furthest away from traffic. If we can’t stay in Willow this is the area we chose.
  2. Facilities = 4/5
    Squeaky clean facilities. A slightly older feel, but otherwise in great shape. Showers have heaters which is a bonus, but are missing a bench/shelf for your stuff (hooks only).
  3. Amenities = 4.5/5
    There is SO much to do here for the entire family. Pool/jacuzzi, clubhouse, 7 huge (enormous) lakes with picnic areas, walking/biking paths, fishing, boat rentals, on-site laundry, lots of community activities….and….free WiFi! Only negative…the WiFi often gets overloaded.
  4. Location = 4/5
    This is a great location. Downtown Santee is just around the corner and has all the shopping you’d like (Costco, Walmart, Petco, Sprouts…you name it), yet you’re only ~15-20 miles from San Diego. You are also close to Hiking trails in the massive Mission Trails Regional Park. Weekly Farmers’ market  downtown on Wednesday afternoons.
  5. Pet Friendliness = 5/5
    Very large dog walk & dog run areas (leashed) inside the RV park with bonus of scented poo bags provided by the park. Access to areas behind the park (very north end) where dogs can go off-leash “unofficially”. The beautiful hills of the army corps site (accessible directly from the very back of the park) allows hiking on the week-end. Lots of dog parks in surrounding areas too.

Overall Rating = 4.4
BONUS ALERT =
Lakes stocked regularly with fish incl. rainbow trout!

Summary: Overall this is probably the nicest park in the San Diego Area. You can get closer to the coast and to major attractions but not with the space/quality/amenities that Santee Lakes offers. When we want to the be by the beach/water we stay at Mission Bay, but when we want space, peace and green we stay here. Very much a family park, especially on the weekends, but very calm and quiet nonetheless. Sites are large, spacious and green intermixed with walking/biking trails and the wonderful lakes. Lots to see and do in the surrounding area including miles of hiking trails and downtown shopping in Santee. Park is dog-friendly and pool/jacuzzi area is lovely. There is even on-site covered RV storage (some of the best rates in the entire San Diego area) for those that need it. Daily & weekly rate is pricey, but the monthly rate is very reasonable for the area. We met volunteers and campers who keep coming back to this park season after season and we completely agree with them. It’s a great place to winter and when we come to San Diego this park is always on our list.

Extra Info: Sadly poor Verizon signal (seems to be somewhat of a “gap” here), but from what we’ve heard AT&T works well. On-site free Wi-Fi which works decently most of the time, but does get overloaded when park is full. All sites are full hookup. Nightly rate $39-$47. Monthly rate $670-$720/mo excluding electric (bookable for 6 months at a time).

One of the large, lovely sites in Willow Loop (site #122)

One of the large, lovely sites in Willow Loop (site #122)

View of our site in Willow (#158)

View of our site in Willow (#158)

View down Willow Loop (RV in site #123 on left, #122 on right)

View down Willow Loop (RV in site #123 on left, #122 on right)

View down East Willow Loop (site #172 on right). Back-ins to the stream-side are the nicest here.

View down East Willow Loop (site #172 on right). Back-ins to the stream-side are the nicest here.

View of huge pull-through sites in West Oak Loop. Site #204 in front with #205 behind it.

View of huge pull-through sites in West Oak Loop. Site #204 in front with #205 behind it.

Another view down West Oak (RV in site #224 on left)

Another view down West Oak (RV in site #224 on left)

View of one of the lakefront sites in Lakeside Loop (site#52 in front, with RV in site #53 behind). Unfortunately only smaller rigs can get in here.

View of one of the lakefront sites in Lakeside Loop (site#52 in front, with RV in site #53 behind). Unfortunately only smaller rigs can get in here.

Another view of lakefront site. #54 shown. Again only for smaller rigs.

Another view of lakefront site. #54 shown. Again only for smaller rigs.

View of Lakeside Loop from across the lake

View of Lakeside Loop from across the lake

View of the park from the open area at the very back of East Oak Loop. Mission Hills in the background.

Out on a walk w/ Polly on one of the many paths round the park

Out on a walk w/ Polly on one of the many paths round the park

View of lovely pool/jacuzzi area. It's a great place to watch the sunset.

View of lovely pool/jacuzzi area. It’s a great place to watch the sunset.

View of the clubhouse and laundromat

View of the clubhouse and laundromat

View of one of the 7 lovely lakes on-site at Santee

View of one of the 7 lovely lakes on-site at Santee

Tagged with:
 

13 Responses to RV Park Rating – Santee Lakes, Santee (San Diego, CA)

  1. [...] 16, 2010 · Leave a Comment Following on with the Park Rating system we invented here, we’re travelling on in time from the first park we stayed at to the second. Palm Canyon is [...]

  2. So I take it that RV’s have everything except bathrooms inside? (no shower?)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Great question. RVs come in all shapes and with all kinds of features. Ours has both shower and bathroom (and a washer/dryer!). But, we also use the shower to stow the cat litter box so when we’re at the parks its just easier to use the park facilities. Also, the water pressure tends to be better in the park showers than the RV showers. Using the park facilities also makes clean-up and maintenance a bit easier.

  3. [...] Santee Lakes, San Diego CA – one of the very first parks we ever stayed at and it still tops the ratings. [...]

  4. libertatemamo says:

    Reblogged this on Wheeling It and commented:

    Just updated our review of Santee Lakes with lots of new pics & details. This is one of the parks that is always on top of our list when we stay in San Diego area.

  5. It’s beautiful! Are you allowed to fish the lakes? =)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, in fact they specifically stock the lakes for that very reason. Don’t know what the rates are (we don’t fish ourselves), but I know many people go to Santee Lakes just for the fishing.
      Nina

      • Thanks Nina!! I should’ve read your post, but I got distracted by the gorgeous photos!! Dh and I would absolutely love to travel around the USA in an RV – shame that renting is so expensive as a holiday!!

  6. Mitchell says:

    Hi,

    I’m new to Rving. Can you tell me…

    “Monthly rate $670-$720/mo excluding electric…”

    Do they actually measure the electricity you use or charge a flat rate?

    Thanks.

    • libertatemamo says:

      In this park they measure the electricity so you’re charged on actual (metered) usage. This is only for the monthly rate. The daily or weekly rate has electricity included.

      For RV parks that offer monthly rates you’ll find some that include electricity in the rate and some that don’t. so it’s always worth asking up-front to be sure. Hope that helps explain it!

      Nina

  7. Michael says:

    Hi Nina & Paul

    Just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I’m hooked. I especially like the boomdocking section because my wife and I are getting into this. We live in San Diego and will be trying it out in Borrago Springs later this year. We also love Santee Lakes. It is one of our favorite local spots and have turned on a number of friends to it. We even know some people who live in and around Santee who didn’t know how nice it is.

    Thank you for all the great info, stories and pic’s. I’ll be watching.

    Michael

    • libertatemamo says:

      Lovely to have you as a follower on the blog! We’ll be back in San Diego this December and maybe we’ll see ya in the desert down the road.
      Nina

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.