Sunrise Scenic Byway
The Sunrise Scenic Byway is a 23-mile road in San Diego County that runs through parts of the Cleveland National Forest and the Anza-Borrego Desert. The Sunrise offers spectacular views of the desert, mountains, various types of trees from pines, spruce, and fir trees as well as wildflower during spring. The byway offers a variety of activities such as camping, hiking, mountain biking, and even off-roading. During the winter months, many city folks drive up the byway to play in the snow. Although the campgrounds are closed during winter, there are cabins to stay in and enjoy a night in the mountains.
Laguna Mountain Recreational area is a very popular area for many. There is a general store, a visitor center, a tavern, and restaurants.
What makes this byway worth driving is witnessing the start of a new day. The sun illuminating the desert floor while it hides behind mountain peaks. One of the most popular places to see the sunrise is at Storm Canyon trailhead. There is a platform that has an unobstructed view of the desert below. There is a small parking lot to park the car. Just below the platform, there is a small bench at the edge of the mountain side given a front-row view to a new day. The sunsets are quite beautiful too depending on where you decide to view it.
One of my favorite areas on the Sunrise byway is the open mountain meadows. There is so much life hiding in the grass and bushes that one step creates a chain of reaction. One bird starts chirping then others join until there is a symphony of birds singing, more like alarms going off in the bird world. This drive is relaxing and enjoyable come and enjoy the ride.
Watch out for wildlife crossing the road and humans in the popular areas. There are rattlesnakes during spring and summer watch your feet. Be aware at night, it gets very dark and during the winter months, it gets very windy. Fog can be thick in certain areas.
South to North: From I-8 head east and exit at Sunrise Scenic Byway, make a left towards the mountains.
North to South: From Julian head south on Hwy 79. Make a left on Sunrise Scenic Byway, S1.
ADMISSION: Free however you need an Adventure Pass to park in some of the most popular areas.
HOURS OF OPERATIONS: 24/7
RECOMMENDATIONS: Stop and see the views
BEST TIME TO GO: Anytime
Meadow Information Kiosk Trailhead