Use of the Lake Cahuilla Equestrian Campground in Southern California is rising, thanks to new amenities.
About 20 campsites over 12 acres with direct access to water and electricity have been added recently, said Gayle Cady, trails committee member from the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District, according to The Desert Sun, Palm Springs.
The work was paid for with a $505,000 grant issued in March 2005 by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, she said.
The equestrian campground portion of the county park has been busier than ever, park staff said. As equestrian camping season wraps up for the year, the equestrian campground has been used 107 times since January.
The Desert Riders, co-founded by former Palm Springs Mayor Frank Bogert, is one of the many equestrian groups that have benefited from the new utilities.
The utilities have encouraged more members of the Desert Riders to camp overnight in the park as opposed to day trips, said Sue Segal, board member and past president of the Desert Riders.
Segal has stayed overnight on the campground at least twice this year and said it feels more like “a first-class resort” for equestrians.
“When you camp here, you wake up and it is the most pristine, quiet and peaceful atmosphere,” she said. “You see the sun come over the lake and it’s like you are camping out in the desert oasis.”
The Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area Park, in south La Quinta, has 150 campsites for group and individual camping. Sixty-five of the campsites have access to utility hookups, including the 20 new equestrian campsites, Segal said.
Before the recent improvements, the equestrian campsite primarily had a restroom, a common area and a spigot for horses, Cady said.
Some people like to go “primitive” as Cady calls it, but there are a growing number people who would prefer to camp more comfortably with amenities that are similar to those at home.
Segal said she has camped here for years, before there were amenities like electricity. In those days, they would carry in their own amenities, including water.
However, the equestrian recreational population has become more sophisticated over the years in terms of the way that they travel, Segal said. The community has moved from pickup trucks and sleeping on the ground to horse trailers equipped with living facilities.
“Now, we have big rigs and we are coming into the 21st century with most of the campers and no longer want to be treated like second-class citizens,” she said.
A portion of the equestrian park closed for a year following the grant to install all the utilities, Cady said. Water pipes and electric wires under selected campsites provide the added amenities.
The new utilities help Desert Riders members feel like the campground is a “first-class resort,” Segal said.
Many of her 100 members will pay the extra dollars to connect their RVs to the equestrian campsites with hookups. Campers pay an extra $7 to have the maximum amount of utilities.
Other groups are benefiting from the additional amenities, Cady said. Attendees of both the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival used the campgrounds heavily, as well as local Boy Scouts organizations and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Posse.
There are at least 50 campsites on the equestrian campground that do not have the extra amenities of water and electricity, Cady said.
Although she is glad to see all of the amenities, there are still some of the Desert Riders who are interested in the “primitive” campsites, especially when they are looking at their budgets, Segal said.
“In these tough economic times, it is good for us to have options,” she said.
More improvements are still coming, Cady said. The park will have hitching rails, where people can safely tie their horses to, and an area for group campfires. Work is expected to begin in the fall.