CHAIR FLETCHER & COUNTY PARKS DEPARTMENT LAUNCH EXPERIENCE THE OUTDOORS
Experience the Outdoors, a program announced by Chair Nathan Fletcher during the 2022 State of San Diego County Address, launched today at Los Penasquitos Canyon County Preserve to eliminate financial, equipment & training barriers so more San Diego County families and residents can enjoy the County’s 23 Regional Parks.
Chair Fletcher was joined by Brain Albright from the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation and Julia Woods from Outdoor Outreach to launch the program & host a community celebration. At the press conference, three demonstrations were held for the community as examples of activities that take place as part of Experience the Outdoors:
- Parks 101 First-timer Series - A camping demonstration about how to build a tent.
- ‘Ride On’ Mountain Biking Challenge - Bike gear check, safety info and trail etiquette with San Diego Mountain Biking Association, REI and others.
- Rad Regional Parks - A youth nature hike to discuss birds, the creek, plants and animals with Department of Parks and Recreation staff.
“Experience the Outdoors is a fun, easy way for families to enjoy all the activities our regional parks have to offer,” said Chair Fletcher. “With this initiative we’re working to eliminate people's anxiety about setting up a tent, paying fees, or learning a new skill. By making the activities associated with Experience the Outdoors free we are removing barriers that might prevent someone from visiting one of our 23 Regional Parks, and opening their minds to the possibilities that exist when you visit a County Park.”
Experience the Outdoors offers a Parks 101: First-timer Series to provide hands-on education and training for those who haven’t been to a park or are looking to try a brand new activity. The series is designed to build awareness of park properties, amenities and programs while developing individuals’ comfort, self-confidence, resourcefulness and natural preparedness.
There is no cost to attend, and registration will only be required for classes requiring borrowed equipment. Transportation and translation assistance will be available upon request. Details will be included in all event flyers.
Some of the upcoming events in the Parks 101 First-timer series are:
- Astronomy 101 on August 20 at Jess Martin County Park
- Ranger-led Hike & Hiking 101 on August 27 at Flinn Springs County Park
- Kayaking and Fishing 101 on September 24 at Lake Morena County Park
- Camping & Gardening 101 on October 22 at Tijuana River Valley Regional Park
- Birdwatching 101 on December 10 at Guajome Regional Park and Rancho Guajome Adobe
“Our diverse County parks not only preserve our natural environment but encourage people from across the region to enjoy the outdoors,” said Brian Albright, Director of the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation. “Experience the Outdoors will bring more people than ever before into our parks.”
Every month, Parks and Recreation will highlight one of our diverse parks through the Rad Regional Parks Series. During each park’s feature month, parking fees are waived, new events and activities have been added, translation services are available and visitors can request a free custom park logo sticker. Anyone who takes a brief survey and opts into Parks and Recreation monthly e-newsletter will be entered into a special drawing for a free all-parks parking pass or similar prize.
The current schedule for Rad Regional Parks is:
- Flinn Spring County Park in August 2022
- Heritage County Park in September 2022
- Hellhole Canyon County Preserve in October 2022
- San Dieguito County Park in November 2022
- Guajome Regional Park/Guajome Adobe in December 2022
“Outdoor Outreach has connected thousands of youth across San Diego County to the outdoors for the first time,” said Julia Woods, Communication and Event Manager for Outdoor Outreach. “We are excited to partner with the County to expand access to County parks and several outdoor activities to more youth than ever before.”
Experience the Outdoors also offers monthly mountain bike rides through the ‘Ride On’ Mountain Biking Challenge Series. Participants have the option to ride solo, with a group or with experts at planned meetups. If you don't have a bike, you can book one when you make your reservation at least three days in advance of the event. REI San Diego has all the gear you need for your ride, and they'll bring it to the event.
Monthly meet-ups have been scheduled to share helpful information and to guide first-timers through some of the region's most popular mountain biking trails. Bike rides are scheduled to occur on the second Saturday of every month beginning at 9 a.m. and each expert-led meetup welcomes up to 18 people, ages 8 and above (unless otherwise noted; no unaccompanied youth). Bike rentals are available for those who do not have their own mountain bike.
Their upcoming rides are:
- Intermediate level Bonita Valley to Tiki Hut Loop on August 20 at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park
- Beginner level Tijuana River Valley Tour on September 17 at the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park
- Beginner level Otay Valley Loop on October 15 at Otay Valley Regional Park
- Beginner Level Bonita Valley Loop on November 19 at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park
- Intermediate level Los Penasquitos and Del Mar Mesa Ride on December 17 at Los Penasquitos Canyon County Preserve
This program is currently scheduled to run through June 2023. For more information about the program and upcoming events, visit the Parks and Recreation Experience the Outdoors page. The website is www.sdparks.org/experience outdoors and the hashtag is #ExperienceOutdoorsSD