Where to Camp in Southern California: Lake Skinner

Lake Skinner may be the best place to camp with your family in Southern California. Large, clean campsites, fishing, hiking, hot air ballooning and wine tasting all within a 90 minute drive from anywhere in So Cal. Located near the Temecula Wine Country, Lake Skinner promises fun and relaxation for the whole family in a park-like setting. Spend the day catfish fishing and the evening making s’mores and playing Bocce Ball. Enjoy all the camping world has to offer near Temecula. There are rental boats, pontoons and kayaks, a soon to be completed splash pad, miles of biking trails and a fully stocked camp store. Dogs are allowed. This is a great camping destination that is close to home.

Lake Skinner Park

37701 Warren Rd.

Winchester, CA. 92596

(951) 926-1541




Boasting 241 large campsites, many with full hookups, you should have no problem reserving a site. My personal favorites are in group C, 301-309 and 313-318, they have shade trees and a large grass area behind them providing a great place to play cornhole or toss a frisbee. All sites have a picnic table and fire ring. In campground B, I recommend sites 201-222 as they also have a large grassy area behind them. Tent camping is best in group A. Each group does have a restroom with a shower, but not nearly enough in my opinion. It does get warm here so bring extra shade with you.  Two private group areas are also available. They are the nearest sites to the lake and can accommodate 16 spots with up to 6 people each. The camp store is well stocked with almost any camping needs and has a laundry facility as well. There are plenty of day use areas available.



The lake is stocked all winter with trout and all summer with catfish. Also, the waters are full of largemouth bass, striped bass and bluegill. That being said, Lake Skinner is tough to fish. We have had days where we caught 40 Stripers and days when we caught nothing. The kids can catch bluegill like crazy one day and get a single bite the next. It drives me nuts. Those good days keep me coming back. Shore fishing with kids is best near boat ramp 2. Use worms along the tule reeds. Bluegill, bass and catfish are likely biters. Get a rental boat and head toward the dam and inlet, Fish with chicken livers, worms or cut anchovies to catch striped bass and catfish. For winter trout the best bite is along the shore by the marina. Traditional trout baits like worms and Powerbait work best as well as trolling needlefish along the shore.                                                                                                                      

Funny story, I once watched a guy fishing at ramp 2 lose his rod and reel to a large fish. SPLASH…..it was pulled into the lake. His buddy was able to snag the pole and reeled it back in.  The original fisherman then proceeded to reel in a 20 lb striper.  Lucky dog!



All the campgrounds are on flat level areas that are perfect from kids to ride and run around. There is a dirt path that circles most of the park that is perfect for riding or walking. A large dirt area that is used for the famous Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival provides a large open area for riding bikes or racing remote control cars. Numerous dirt trails leading to the lake await those ready to get a little mountain biking in with very easy paths. Walk or ride to the splash pad, marina or camp store for an ice cream or just down to the lake to enjoy the cool breeze or sunset. Horse owners can enjoy a 6 mile trail around the lake. One of our favorite activities is to walk or ride to the lake shore and enjoy amazing sunsets. It will really rejuvenate your spirits.


The adults can have a lot of fun too visiting the local wineries. A few of our camping neighbors actually hired a tour bus to pick them up and drive them to various wineries, Maybe UBER will pick up, I need to check on that next time I am out there. Be sure to check out the Balloon and Wine Festival June 2, 3, and , 2017. Baily Vineyard, Briar Rose Winery, Callaway Vineyard, and Cougar Vineyards are some of the best. Grab a bottle or 2 of Merlot and bring it back to go with grilled steaks as you enjoy a beautiful Lake Skinner sunset. If the ladies want to get a little shopping in while the guys go fishing, the Lake Elsinore Outlet Mall is not far away or try the shops in Old Town Temecula.

Camping Activities


Lake Skinner is a great place to enjoy camping with friends and family. The bigger your group, the more fun you will have. Families enjoy setting up volleyball nets, playing cornhole, wiffle ball games, water gun fights or just relaxing by the RV playing dominoes or cribbage. Wake up and smell the bacon cooking on your Coleman stove as you watch the hot air balloons taking off in the west. Listen to birds as you nap in the shade on a warm afternoon. Watch a gorgeous sunset as dinner is grilling on the BBQ. Share family stories sitting around the campfire making s’mores. These are the moments that the kids and grandkids will always remember. Take the time to make the memories.

Thank you for taking the time to enjoy this article. Please subscribe to get all of our informative outdoors information and remember, life is an adventure, get out and enjoy it!

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more” ~ John Burroughs


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