Palomar Mountain

Last updated
Palomar
Monte Palomar  (Spanish)
Palomar Observatory 2.jpg
View of the Palomar Observatory located near the High Point summit of the Palomar Mountain range.
Highest point
Elevation 6,142 ft (1,872 m)  NAVD 88 [1]
Prominence 2,856 ft (871 m) [2]
Listing San Diego peak list [3]
Coordinates 33°21′49″N116°50′11″W / 33.363483514°N 116.836394236°W / 33.363483514; -116.836394236 Coordinates: 33°21′49″N116°50′11″W / 33.363483514°N 116.836394236°W / 33.363483514; -116.836394236 [1]
Geography
San Diego County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Palomar
Location San Diego County, California
Parent range Peninsular Ranges
Topo map USGS Palomar Observatory
Climbing
Easiest route Road

Palomar Mountain ( /ˈpæləmɑːr/ PAL-ə-mar; Spanish : Monte Palomar [paloˈmaɾ] ) is a mountain ridge in the Peninsular Ranges in northern San Diego County. It is famous as the location of the Palomar Observatory and Hale Telescope, and known for the Palomar Mountain State Park.

Contents

History

The Luiseño Indian name for Palomar Mountain was Paauw and High Point was called Wikyo. [4]

The Spanish name Palomar, meaning "pigeon roost" or “place of the pigeons”, comes from the Spanish colonial era in Alta California when Palomar Mountain was known as the home of band-tailed pigeons. [5]

The peak was once called Smith Mountain but reverted to its Spanish name, Palomar, in 1901.

During the 1890s, the human population was sufficient to support three public schools, and it was a popular summer resort for Southern California, with three hotels in operation part of the time, and a tent city in Doane Valley each summer.

Palomar Observatory

Palomar Mountain is most famous as the home of the Palomar Observatory and the Hale Telescope. The 200-inch telescope was the world's largest and most important telescope from 1949 until 1992. The observatory currently[ when? ] consists of three large telescopes. It uses a 23-ton glass block cast by José Antonio de Artigas Sanz.

Palomar Mountain State Park

Palomar Mountain is the location of Palomar Mountain State Park, a California State Park. There are campgrounds for vacationers, and a campground for local school children until the San Diego Unified School District was forced to close it due to state budget cuts. The park averages 70,000 visitors annually. The campgrounds in the park were temporarily closed on October 2, 2011, due to state budget cuts. The park was among 70 California State Parks threatened by budget cuts in fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, but the park and the campgrounds remain open. [6] [7]

Palomar Mountain, especially in the state park area, is densely wooded with abundant oak and conifer tree species (pine, cedar, fir). Ferns are abundant everywhere in the shady forest. The forest is supported by annual precipitation totals in excess of 30 inches.

Beginning in the 1920s a fire lookout tower has been present on Boucher Hill on Palomar Mountain. The tower had been active until it was abandoned in 1983 and then was reactivated when the San Diego/Riverside County Chapter of the FFLA Forest Fire Lookout Association - San Diego/Riverside Chapter began manning it in 2012. Boucher Hill sees more than 11,000 visitors a season. The tower opens around May 1 in conjunction with the fire season and closes in early December. During this period the tower is typically staffed 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. [8]

Doane Valley, located within the State Park, is home to the Camp Palomar Outdoor School for 6th grade students in the San Diego Unified School District. [9]

Oak Knoll Campground

At the base of Palomar Mountain on County Route S6 is Oak Knoll Campground, formerly known as Palomar Gardens. In the 1950s and 1960s, Palomar Gardens was made famous by its owner and resident, UFO contactee George Adamski. [10] Adamski had a self-built, wooden observatory at Palomar Gardens and photographed objects in the night sky that he claimed were UFOs. Adamski co-authored the bestselling Flying Saucers Have Landed in 1953, [11] about his alleged alien encounter experiences, and in particular his meetings with a friendly "Space Brother" from Venus named Orthon. [12] The 1977 film The Crater Lake Monster had many scenes filmed on Palomar Mountain, including scenes shot at the summit restaurant, but not the scenes of the monster in a lake. [13]

High Point

Fire Tower on Palomar Mountain High Point Fire Tower on Palomar Mountain.jpg
Fire Tower on Palomar Mountain

High Point, in the Palomar Mountain range, is one of the highest peaks in San Diego County. At an elevation of 6,140 feet (1,871 m), it is surpassed by Cuyamaca Peak (at 6,512 feet (1,985 m)) and Hot Springs Mountain (the county's highest point, at 6,533 feet (1,991 m)). They are dwarfed by the higher 11,500 feet (3,505 m) San Bernardino Mountains a relatively short 52 miles to the north, in San Bernardino County, the 10,000 feet (3,000 m) San Jacinto Mountains 30 miles north in Riverside County and the 14,500 feet (4,420 m) high Mount Whitney some 250 mi (402 km) farther north. High Point is located approximately two miles east of the observatory. However, it is not accessible by the public from that direction as the observatory itself and adjacent land are private property, and the road to High Point from the observatory is blocked by a permanently closed gate. It may be reached via Palomar Divide Truck Trail, a dirt road that starts off Highway 79 near Warner Springs, California. The trip is 13 miles one way with 3000 feet of elevation gain via Palomar Divide Truck Trail. High Point can also be hiked on the Oak Grove Trail, the oldest established trail on the Palomar Ranger District. [14] The hike is 13.5 miles roundtrip. [15] There is an operational USFS fire lookout tower on High Point, built in 1964. It is 70 feet tall, making it the tallest USFS fire tower in California. It was brought back into service in 2009 and is staffed by the San Diego/Riverside County Chapter of the FFLA Forest Fire Lookout Association - San Diego/Riverside.

Other local peaks include:

Access

South Grade Road, the stretch of San Diego County Route S6 going from State Route 76 to the summit provides access with over 20 hairpin turns over the distance of less than 7 mi (11 km). [16] [17]

Climate

According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Palomar Mountain has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csa" on climate maps. Annual precipitation on the mountain averages 30–35 inches (highly variable from year to year), mostly falling between October and April. Snow falls during cold winter storms. Summers are mostly dry, except for thunderstorms in July to early September. The humid climate supports a forest of oak, pine, fir and cedar on large swaths of the mountain.

Climate data for Palomar Mountain (normals 1981-2010)(extremes 1901-2020)
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °F (°C)82
(28)
77
(25)
83
(28)
91
(33)
104
(40)
100
(38)
100
(38)
100
(38)
100
(38)
97
(36)
80
(27)
80
(27)
104
(40)
Mean maximum °F (°C)62
(17)
63
(17)
69
(21)
76
(24)
82
(28)
88
(31)
93
(34)
92
(33)
88
(31)
79
(26)
70
(21)
63
(17)
94
(34)
Average high °F (°C)49.9
(9.9)
49.9
(9.9)
54.9
(12.7)
60.4
(15.8)
69
(21)
77.7
(25.4)
83.6
(28.7)
83
(28)
78
(26)
67.3
(19.6)
56.6
(13.7)
49.7
(9.8)
65.0
(18.3)
Daily mean °F (°C)42.9
(6.1)
42.6
(5.9)
46.4
(8.0)
50.8
(10.4)
58.5
(14.7)
67.1
(19.5)
73.5
(23.1)
73.2
(22.9)
68.1
(20.1)
58.4
(14.7)
49.0
(9.4)
42.7
(5.9)
56.1
(13.4)
Average low °F (°C)35.8
(2.1)
35.3
(1.8)
37.8
(3.2)
41.2
(5.1)
48
(9)
56.4
(13.6)
63.5
(17.5)
63.4
(17.4)
58.2
(14.6)
49.4
(9.7)
41.4
(5.2)
35.7
(2.1)
47.2
(8.4)
Mean minimum °F (°C)23
(−5)
22
(−6)
25
(−4)
28
(−2)
33
(1)
39
(4)
54
(12)
54
(12)
43
(6)
36
(2)
28
(−2)
23
(−5)
19
(−7)
Record low °F (°C)8
(−13)
12
(−11)
16
(−9)
19
(−7)
24
(−4)
28
(−2)
36
(2)
36
(2)
30
(−1)
18
(−8)
17
(−8)
8
(−13)
8
(−13)
Average rainfall inches (mm)5.88
(149)
6.61
(168)
4.75
(121)
1.91
(49)
0.55
(14)
0.17
(4.3)
0.37
(9.4)
0.77
(20)
0.51
(13)
1.23
(31)
2.48
(63)
4.97
(126)
30.2
(770)
Average snowfall inches (cm)5.6
(14)
7.2
(18)
6.6
(17)
2.9
(7.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.1
(2.8)
2.2
(5.6)
35.5
(90)
Source: NOAA [18]

Natural history

The upper elevations of the Palomar Mountain Range have notably different habitats than its lower elevation foothills. The lower regions are in the California montane chaparral and woodlands sub-ecoregion, adapted to the xeric/dry Mediterranean climate with chaparral and woodlands flora. The higher regions are in the California mixed evergreen forest sub-ecoregion, with California black oaks, closed-cone pines, firs, and other California oaks and conifers. [19] Higher elevations receive considerably more moisture than the coastal and inland valley lower slopes, with 30–35 in (76–89 cm) of precipitation. [20] They can also receive snow from winter storms. [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

Palomar Observatory Astronomical observatory in Southern California

Palomar Observatory is an astronomical research observatory in San Diego County, California, United States, in the Palomar Mountain Range. It is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Research time at the observatory is granted to Caltech and its research partners, which include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Yale University, and the National Optical Observatories of China.

San Gabriel Mountains Mountain range in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, California

The San Gabriel Mountains are a mountain range located in northern Los Angeles County and western San Bernardino County, California, United States. The mountain range is part of the Transverse Ranges and lies between the Los Angeles Basin and the Mojave Desert, with Interstate 5 to the west and Interstate 15 to the east. The range lies in, and is surrounded by, the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests, with the San Andreas Fault as its northern border.

Peninsular Ranges Group of mountain ranges in Southern California and northern Mexico

The Peninsular Ranges are a group of mountain ranges that stretch 1,500 km (930 mi) from Southern California to the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula; they are part of the North American Coast Ranges, which run along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico. Elevations range from 500 to 10,834 feet.

San Jacinto Peak

San Jacinto Peak is a 10,834 ft (3,302 m) peak in the San Jacinto Mountains, in Riverside County, California. Lying within Mount San Jacinto State Park it is the highest both in the range and the county, and serves as the southern border of the San Gorgonio Pass. Naturalist John Muir wrote of San Jacinto Peak, "The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!"

Angeles National Forest

The Angeles National Forest (ANF) of the U.S. Forest Service is located in the San Gabriel Mountains and Sierra Pelona Mountains, primarily within Los Angeles County in southern California. The ANF manages a majority of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Mount Tamalpais Mountain in California, United States

Mount Tamalpais is a peak in Marin County, California, United States, often considered symbolic of Marin County. Much of Mount Tamalpais is protected within public lands such as Mount Tamalpais State Park, the Marin Municipal Water District watershed, and National Park Service land, such as Muir Woods.

Mount Wilson (California) Mountain in California, United States

Mount Wilson is a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, located within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. With only minor topographical prominence the peak is not naturally noticeable from a distance, although it is easily identifiable due to the large number of antennas near its summit. It is a subsidiary peak of nearby San Gabriel Peak.

Cleveland National Forest Southernmost National forest of California

Cleveland National Forest encompasses 460,000 acres, mostly of chaparral, with a few riparian areas. A warm dry mediterranean climate prevails over the forest. It is the southernmost U.S. National Forest of California. It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service, a government agency within the United States Department of Agriculture. It is divided into the Descanso, Palomar and Trabuco Ranger Districts and is located in the counties of San Diego, Riverside, and Orange.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a state park in California, United States, located 40 miles (64 km) east of San Diego in the Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountains of the Peninsular Ranges. The park's 26,000 acres (11,000 ha) feature pine, fir, and oak forests, with meadows and streams that exist due to the relatively high elevation of the area compared to its surroundings. The park includes 6,512-foot (1,985 m) Cuyamaca Peak, the second-highest point in San Diego County.

Palomar Mountain, California Unincorporated community in California, United States

Palomar Mountain is an unincorporated community in San Diego County, California, United States.

Agua Tibia Wilderness Protected wilderness area in California, United States

Agua Tibia Wilderness (ATW) is a 17,961-acre (72.69 km2) protected area in Riverside and San Diego counties, in the U.S. state of California. It is mostly within the Palomar Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest. The area was originally protected as the Agua Tibia Primitive Area until January 1975 when it was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System with the passage of Public Law 93-632 by the United States Congress. Between its inception and 1984, the ATW was San Diego County's only officially designated wilderness area. The Spanish name, Agua Tibia, translates as warm water.

Fire lookout tower Building to house a person who watches for wildfires

A fire lookout tower, fire tower or lookout tower, provides housing and protection for a person known as a "fire lookout" whose duty it is to search for wildfires in the wilderness. The fire lookout tower is a small building, usually located on the summit of a mountain or other high vantage point, in order to maximize the viewing distance and range, known as view shed. From this vantage point the fire lookout can see smoke that may develop, determine the location by using a device known as an Osborne Fire Finder, and call fire suppression personnel to the fire. Lookouts also report weather changes and plot the location of lightning strikes during storms. The location of the strike is monitored for a period of days after in case of ignition.

Pinaleño Mountains Mountain range in southeastern Arizona, United States

The Pinaleño Mountains, are a remote mountain range in southeastern Arizona, near Safford, Arizona. The mountains have over 7,000 feet (2,100 m) of vertical relief, more than any other range in the state. The mountains are surrounded by the Sonoran-Chihuahuan Desert. Subalpine forests cover the higher elevations. According to The Nature Conservancy, they traverse five ecological communities and contain "the highest diversity of habitats of any mountain range in North America." The highest point is Mount Graham at 10,720 feet (3,267 m). Locals often refer to the whole mountain range as "Mount Graham", in which case the peak is referred to as "High Peak". The mountains cover 300 square miles (780 km2) and are part of the Coronado National Forest, Safford ranger district.

Frazier Mountain

Frazier Mountain is a broad, pine-forested peak in the Transverse Ranges System, within the Los Padres National Forest in northeastern Ventura County, California. At 8,017 feet (2,444 m), Frazier Mnt. is the sixteenth-highest mountain in the Transverse Ranges of Southern California.

Cuyamaca Peak Mountain in California, United States

Cuyamaca Peak is a mountain peak of the Cuyamaca Mountains range, in San Diego County, Southern California.

Hot Springs Mountain

Hot Springs Mountain is a peak located in the Peninsular Ranges in California. The mountain rises to an elevation of 6,533 feet (1,991 m) and is the highest point in San Diego County. Some snow falls on the mountain peak during winter. It is located in a remote region of the county, 4 miles from the community of Warner Springs, 12 miles from Borrego Springs, and 50 miles from San Diego. The mountain and its immediate surroundings belong to the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians. The summit and fire tower can be hiked via the Sukat Road route from the campground. Hikers and campers must pay an entry fee to access the area.

Cuyamaca Mountains Mountain range of the Peninsular Ranges System, in San Diego County, southern California

The Cuyamaca Mountains, locally the Cuyamacas, are a mountain range of the Peninsular Ranges System, in San Diego County, southern California. The mountain range runs roughly northwest to southeast. The Laguna Mountains are directly adjacent to the east, with Palomar Mountain and Hot Springs Mountain more distant to the north.

There are 34 routes assigned to the "S" zone of the California Route Marker Program, which designates county routes in California. The "S" zone includes county highways in Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Barbara counties.

Chews Ridge Lookout

The Chews Ridge Lookout is located at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Range of the Los Padres National Forest, about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Monterey and approximately 30 miles (48 km) west of Highway 101. The current tower was built in 1929 and staffed through about 1990. A volunteer organization began recruiting individuals to staff the tower in 2019. The ridge and tower were named for homesteaders Constantine and Nellie Chew, who patented 315 acres (127 ha) on the ridge in the late 19th Century. The lookout is accessible from Carmel Valley Road, and then south on Forest Route 18S02/Tassajara Road 9 miles (14 km). Most of the Tassajara Road is unpaved. Some portions of the road are only suitable for high-clearance or four-wheel drive vehicles, and depending on current weather conditions, may become impassible.

References

  1. 1 2 "Palomar". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey . Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  2. "Palomar Mountain, California". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  3. "Sand Diego peaks list". San Diego Chapter, Sierra Club . Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  4. Sparkman, Philip Stedman (1908). The Culture of the Luiseño Indians (PDF). Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  5. Wood, Catherine M. (1937). Palomar from teepee to telescope (PDF). San Diego: Frye & Smith. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  6. "Palomar Mountain State Park – chins up, powering on".
  7. "California State Park Closures Announced". Roughin.It. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  8. "Boucher Hill Lookout". Forest Fire Lookout Association-San Diego Riverside Chapter.
  9. "Camp Palomar Outdoor School – Directions". San Diego Unified School District. Archived from the original on 2010-11-06. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  10. (Moseley, pp. 62-68)
  11. Leslie, Desmond; George Adamski (1953). Flying saucers have landed . New York: British Book Centre. ISBN   0-85435-180-9.
  12. (Moseley, p. 60)
  13. "The Crater Lake Monster". Crown International Pictures. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  14. "Cleveland National Forest: Oak Grove Trail".
  15. "Oak Grove Trail to High Point Hike (2019)". HikingGuy.com. 2019-11-26. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  16. J. Harry Jones (September 25, 2005). "Twists, turns, trouble". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  17. Salvadori, C. (2000). "Around Palomar Mountain and to the Top". Motorcycle Journeys Through California. Motorcycle Journeys Series. Whitehorse Press. pp. 286–304. ISBN   978-1-884313-18-9.
  18. "Palomar MT Observatory - NWS San Diego NOAA Online Weather Data". NOAA. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  19. 1 2 "Bailey's Palomar Resort" . Retrieved 2007-08-16.
  20. "waynesword.palomar.edu" . Retrieved 2007-08-16.

Sources