Pauma Valley is located along the northern border of San Diego County, some 35 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The valley rests peacefully at the foot of the majestic Palomar Mountain range and is nestled alongside the San Luis Rey River. Water flows through this valley during the rainy season and sustains abundant native groves of massive Live Oak trees and rugged chaparral. You can see untouched nature here at your doorstep.
Despite the sprawling reach of Southern California’s urban areas, this place still remains an exclusive enclave that is almost unknown to the vast majority of Sourthern Californians. Few travel to this forgotten place, which is surprising, because it’s really not far from civilization or modern conveniences.
Just 4.5 miles north of the Pauma Valley floor, Palomar Mountain rises to over 6,100 feet above sea level. On many winter days the mountain’s peaks will be dusted with fresh snow, which offers dramatic counterpoint to the contrasting green of the warm valley below. The colors, textures, and contrasts between the valley and mountains are remarkable. Maybe these vivid colors are a result of the clarity of the air, which has been sought after for generations as a tonic, to provide relief from a fast-paced world.
The region’s air is so clear and stable that astronomers (since 1936) have considered Palomar Mountain and the Valley to be among the world’s best places to view the heavens. The mountain offered so many attractive star-gazing benefits, that George Hale, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, commissioned the building of the now famous 200″ Hale Telescope. From 1949 until 1992 the Hale Telescope was the world’s largest reflecting telescope (in 1992 a larger telescope was built in Hawaii). Today, the Palomar Observatory is a tourist destination and an active research facility owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (CalTech). Palomar Mountain offers stunning views to the pacific ocean, hiking, camping, picnicking, and fishing – and it’s all just minutes from the Valley floor.
The County has specified zoning which limits growth and development in the region, so for now, you’ll find plenty of big open space. Many decades ago, ranchers and growers discovered the natural underground aquifer that is the source of life for the valley. The abundance of water feeds the regions citrus groves and nursery industry.
Quick Fact: John Wayne once called Pauma Valley home.