Live Oak Springs Resort
By Steve Fleming
There is a popular bumper sticker, seen all throughout San Diego County, that reads "Where the Hell is Boulevard?". That bumper sticker aptly shows the situation of many small back country communities. Other than the local residents, and their friends, no one has ever heard of their town. This is particularly true of any town off the main highway or past Pine Valley in San Diego County, California.
Typical destinations in this area for the ever popular "Sunday drive" are Alpine, Julian, Pine Valley, Mt. Laguna, and sights in between. Ask one of these Sunday drivers what is past Pine Valley and your answer is usually "El Centro". But there is much more past Pine Valley than the next major city. There are many camping, hiking, and other recreational areas. Restaurants are available for a good country cooked meal or a fine dinner. There is also fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities. There is also just plenty of good old beautiful countryside to admire on that Sunday drive.
One place that should be on everyone's list of destinations for an enjoyable day is the Live Oak Springs Resort. The resort is the central part of the small community of Live Oak Springs. It is one of the most beautiful settings of this entire area. Live Oak Springs is located about 55 miles from San Diego. It is off Interstate 8 at the Crestwood exit, just three miles west of the famous, but unknown, town of Boulevard. To find Live Oak Springs exit the freeway and head east on Old Highway 80. In a few minutes you will reach a small serene valley full of Oaks and pines. This is Live Oak Springs.
The resort sits on 132 of the loveliest acres you will ever see. There is the Mountain Peak restaurant, an Olympic size swimming pool, A-frame cabins, an RV/tent camping section, a mobile home park, and the village store. Make yourself at home in the cozy, country decorated, two-story, A-frame cabins with in-room jacuzzis and fireplaces.
For entertainment there is swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, ping-pong, a children's playground, hiking, and other activities. Surrounding the resort is a small residential area. The resort even has an outdoor chapel and altar for weddings. Nearby is the Golden Acorn Casino.
Live Oak Springs Resort was started in the late 1940's. In 1946 the restaurant was built. The next year the outdoor chapel was added. Over the years the campground and other facilities grew up around the restaurant. People purchased property adjacent to the restaurant and started building homes, bringing about the beginning of Live Oak Springs as a community. The last major improvement in the area, until recently, was the addition of the cabins in the early 1960's.
At the time the cabins were built Live Oak Springs was a much better known place. The major highway from Arizona to San Diego ran right by its front door. Later, when the new freeway was completed, Live Oak Springs did not have the busy highway to advertise its presence. Today, though, this has become an advantage as the noise and smells of the busy freeway are far away, leaving the valley peaceful and serene.
The resort has not changed much since the early 60's. The restaurant has had a sporadic history of openings, closings, and name changes. In 1985 the resort was purchased by Nazar Najor, of Lakeside. Nazar has a varied business background, having owned and operated a supermarket in Lakeside for fifteen years, owned a restaurant (also in Lakeside), and for the past three years has been a financial consultant. Nazar's main idea when he purchased Live Oak Springs Resort was to renovate it and make it into a regional family resort. This dream has now become a reality.
In 1985 Nazar immediately started upgrading the restaurant. He brought in an experienced Hotel/Restaurant manager, Ralph Doeren. Ralph is from Ludington, Michigan, where he worked as a manager for Holiday Inn for ten years.
Work on the resort included a dish antenna with giant screen TV in the lounge, air conditioning in the cabins, outdoor patio and barbecue, outdoor sports areas, children's playground, renovation and reopening of the pool, and new landscaping work. Live entertainment is available now every Friday and Saturday nights.
The resort owns and operates the local water company for Live Oak Springs. This consists of two large wells and pumping stations. There was much renovation to be done in 1985 when the water company was first purchased with the resort property. Over 1500 feet of new pipe was reinstalled as well as two new pumps. Live Oak Springs has always had a reputation for its good tasting water.
The resort makes a great place to spend the day, weekend, or week. The area has many interesting places to visit:
Golden Acorn Casino - Located 1 1/2 miles west of Live Oak Springs, on Old Highway 80. The 24-hour casino features over 750 slots and table games galore!
Historic Train Ride - located 15 miles from Live Oak Springs, in Campo, open weekends and holidays. Ride through the scenic back country of San Diego County on the legendary impossible railroad. The 16 mile round trip features vintage equipment from the museum collection passenger cards from the 20's steam or diesel locomotives as available.
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park - 25 miles west of Live Oak Springs, on Hwy 79. 25,000 acres, heavily forested with pine, oak and cedar trees. Altitude ranges from 3,200 to 6, 512 feet. Picnic areas, hiking, family campgrounds. Fishing and boating at Cuyamaca Lake.
Desert View Tower - located 10 miles east of Live Oak Springs, at the In-Ko-Pah exit. Five story museum and antique store, over-looking the desert, built in the 1920's. Unique animal rock carvings.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park - 25 minutes east of Live Oak Springs. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park consists of over 600,000 acres. The Park encompasses elevations from 15 feet to over 6,000 feet and environments as diverse as dry lake beds, year-round springs, sandstone canyons and palm groves.
Viejas Casino & Turf Club - located 30 minutes from Live Oak Springs - 24 hours casino and restaurant with cocktails available. Features weekend entertainment and live bands. Over $3,000,000 won monthly. Viejas Indian Reservation, in Alpine. Bingo, poker, video poker, off-track betting.
McCain Valley Resource Conservation Area - located 5 miles from Live Oak Springs, encompasses 38,692 acres of the In-Ko-Pah Mountains, one of Southern California's coastal mountain ranges. Hiking trails, scenic overlooks, picnic areas and a 1500-acre off-road vehicle park.
Tecate, Mexico - about 23 miles from Live Oak Springs, take scenic highway 94 to highway 188, across the border into Tecate.
Lake Morena - located 15 miles from Live Oak Springs, fishing and picnic area.
Smugglers Cave - Hiking trail, located in Jacumba, 12 miles east of Live Oak Springs.
So, if you are getting ready for that Sunday drive, remember... there is more to the back county than you thought! Drive out and see some new sights. You may discover some unknown treasures, like Live Oak Springs.
About the author:
"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."
- Lou Holtz
Steve Fleming is a business journalist and entrepreneur with more than a dozen years of experience in print and online media. A former writer and editor of Professional Gardening & Landscaping magazine, Celestial Observer and ProGardenBiz.com online magazine, his work appears in numerous online and print publications. He is a frequent speaker and writer on small business topics, and a regular article consultant on lowesforpros.com. He has a wife, son, daughter, two cats, and lives in Paradise, otherwise known as San Diego, CA.