The Inland region of San Diego County is a large area that includes suburbs and rural towns in brushy valleys, mountains, and arid desert.
- 1 Borrego Springs - A small desert town in the midst of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
- 2 Campo - A small town near the Mexican border, home to a few historical attractions and a railroad museum.
- 3 El Cajon - The largest city of the region, mostly suburban in character.
- 4 Julian - A popular mountain town famed for its wineries and fruit orchards, as well as its access to nearby outdoor recreational opportunities.
- 5 Lakeside - A mostly suburban area in the foothills of the mountains, with many outdoor recreation opportunities.
- 6 La Mesa - A small suburban city along a San Diego Trolley line, with a couple of malls and a modest downtown area offering shops and restaurants.
- 7 Lemon Grove - Once noted for its lemon groves, today this is a largely suburban community.
- 8 Ramona - A small agricultural town.
- 9 Santee - A rapidly growing suburban city north of El Cajon.
- 1 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Covering much of the easternmost reaches of the region, this vast desert wilderness makes up the largest state park in California and offers amble opportunities for getting into the arid backcountry and take in desert scenery.
- 2 Cleveland National Forest - Covering much of the mountainous areas of the region.
- 3 Desert View Tower - Just off I-8 (In-Ko-Pah Road, exit 77) on the eastern edge of the county, at the Imperial County border, is this stone tower dating back to the 1920s. Once a stop along the then-treacherous journey between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona, today it is a museum with artifacts from the tower's history, offering a scenic view of the desert to the east and holding a collection of boulders crafted into beautiful carvings.
Driving is the primary way of accessing this region. Save for the concentration of suburban cities on the western-most edge of the area (Lemon Grove, La Mesa, El Cajon, and Santee), which are served by the San Diego Trolley and some degree of MTS bus service, public transit in this area is very sparse. I-8 crosses across the southern portion of this region, connecting to San Diego to the west and Imperial County to the east. SR 94 parallels I-8 further south, running between San Diego and Jacumba, while SR 78 crosses across the northern portion of the region, connecting to North County to the west and Imperial County to the east.
- Rock climbing is very popular in the area, with many excellent spots. Specialist climbing companies offer guided rock climbing from professional climbers for the beginner to the experienced climber. All the climbing companies provide all the required equipment such as helmets, shoes and harnesses, and usually require an orientation meeting the week of the climb for all participants. They are also a great resource of information on the best local climbs. El Cajon Mountain is one of the hidden gems for local climbers. There are over 70 multipitch routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13 on the granite wall. There is a stout 90 minute approach hike to the cliff but well worth the effort for the quality of climbing you will find here. Mount Woodson is a world class bouldering and toproping area with over 500 climbs. Crack climbing and thin face climbs mostly in the 5.10 and 5.11 range can be found on the mountain. Close to the Mexican border is Valley of the Moon, about an hour and a half drive east of San Diego. You need a four-wheel drive for the last leg of the drive. This is mostly a sport route area with a few crack climbs and the best time of year to visit this area is fall through spring due to the desert-like climate. Santee Boulders in the town of Santee is a very popular destination for the casual climber. Extremely easy access and parking makes a visit to these 30 granite boulders a popular after work hang out, where all you will need are a decent pair of climbing shoes and a chalk bag. Stonewall Peak at 5730 feet and consisting primarily of granite, is located off Highway 79 in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park about 9 miles south of Julian. It is a relatively easy hike that takes about one hour to the summit. Formerly a mine that was closed n 1892, it was originally known as the “Stonewall Jackson Mine,” named after the great Confederate General. About a mile away there is also Middle Peak, another relatively easy climb at 5883 feet, even though there may still be a few restrictions imposed by the rangers after the 2003 forest fires.
- Gambling is also a big draw to the area. There are numerous gaming sites, all operated by local Indian tribes scattered throughout the Inland region and ranging from full-blown resorts to one-room bingo halls. Some offer hotels, golf courses, concert venues, and shopping outlets. Barona Valley Ranch north of Lakeside, Harrahs Resort and Pala Casino along SR 76 east of I-15, Viejas Casino and Golden Acorn Casino along I-8, and Sycuan Resort in El Cajon are among the largest venues. "The big three"; Barona, Sycuan, and Viejas, all feature a distinct policy of allowing those 18 years or older to gamble, while most others follow a 21+ plus rule. Alcohol may or may not be served at some locations.
- Tecate lies south across the border in Mexico, just off SR 94 between San Diego and Campo. Beyond being a relatively uncrowded border crossing, the town is also home to the brewery for the popular Tecate brand.