Sunrise Highway

July 28, 2019  •  7 Comments

Our County has an incredibly rich and diverse landscape. With the horizonless, blue Pacific Ocean to your back, a short drive east will bring you to the foothills of rural east county, then a long, meandering climb places you in our local mountains via Sunrise Highway, the best of all roads.  For an encore, take a long descent into the the arid lands of the Anza-Borrego Desert. 

Ever since I first traveled Sunrise Highway I knew it would become my favorite scenic route in San Diego County.  I've lived here 40 years now and I'm still of that opinion as this is a striking and awe-inspiring stretch of road.  Its winding 35 miles of forests and overlooks runs along the Peninsular Range and in places holds grand and arresting views of Anza-Borrego Desert to the east. 

At one time, whenever visitors came, I'd get them up before dawn and drive out to Sunrise Highway to see the sun come up over the rugged foothills that tumble headlong and not-so-gently to the desert floor.  Afterward, we'd head down to the small desert town of Borrego Springs for breakfast burritos and coffee.  Then, as the morning heat closed-in on triple digits, it's back up to the cooler temps of Mt. Laguna, retrace our path along Sunrise Highway and head west to San Diego.  In an hour we'd be soaking our feet in the Pacific while eating fish tacos washed down with margaritas.  All this before sunset. 

One of my first photos from Sunrise Hwy.  
That tree is now gone, destroyed by wildfire as was the overlook platform I was standing on.  
The platform has been rebuilt but unfortunately the well positioned tree is gone forever. 
Pacific Crest TrailPacific Crest TrailMt. Laguna, California
The Pacific Crest Trail heading north to Canada
Morning ThunderheadMorning ThunderheadCuyamaca, California
At the north end of Sunrise Hwy, cumulonimbus clouds catch the morning sun
Marching Stones of Mt. LagunaMarching Stones of Mt. LagunaMt Laguna, California
Marching stones climbing out of the desert to cooler temps 
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Before the summer heat turns everything brown the foothills between the mountains and desert can be a lovely green
SunriseSunriseMt Laguna, California
My most recent image from my favorite morning overlook


Monte Stevens(non-registered)
Love that last image! Fish tacos? I'm in!
I can only second all the comments already made by the other commenters. Beautiful place and gorgeous photos.
Derek Loranger(non-registered)
Having been to this stretch of road many times this year already, I can say it's one of San Diego's best expressions. Your pictures are lovely.
Alexander S. Kunz(non-registered)
A wonderful photographic tribute to a wonderful road. I'm surprised that you didn't include the photo with the sheets of rain coming down, wasn't it made on Sunrise Highway too?

Also, I need to hike Oriflamme Mountain, perhaps in fall or next spring. :-)
T.M. Schultze(non-registered)
Joe, this is a great post. The thing I really love about the Laguna Mountains (and by extension, Sunrise Highway) is that a group of us can travel to many of the same 'spots" and go home with unique images. It's always great to see what you have going on up there. And monsoon season is upon us.

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