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Agua Caliente County Park - A StarDude Favorite!

Clear Night Skies, Amazing Hiking & Naturally Heated Hot Spring Pools!

Night Sky Photography/Astrophotography 2 Night Adventure & Workshop

Best Viewed on a Computer

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

to Sunday, September 5th, 2021

Agua Caliente C.P. - Dark Sky Rating - 7.5

39555 Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849, Julian, CA 92036

Dark Sky Location Scale

Click Thumbnail for Dark Sky Location Scale

The night time sky is breathtaking, no question about it. But have you ever captured a photo of it? If you would like to learn the secrets of composing & capturing stunning portraits of the night sky and the Milky Way with only a camera and tripod, then this adventure-filled and inspiring workshop is for you!

Camping in Agua Caliente



- 2 Night Access to Agua Caliente Park Campsite

- Restrooms & Coin Showers

- Access to Relaxing Indoor Heated Pool!!

- Group Photo Hikes

- Full Night Sky Photography Training Course*

- Astrophotography Training Course**

Fee covers cost of campsite, 1-on-1 training, and equipment use. 

First Person: $249

Bring A Friend!

$99 Per Additional Person

* Night Sky Photography Course Includes:


- 1-on-1 Personal Attention

- Exposure Triangle Training

- Preparation & Setup

- Nightime Focusing Principles

- Evaluating Your Exposures

- Light Painting

- Composition After Dark

- Milky Way Imaging

- Startrail Imaging

- Time Lapse Photography

- Image Processing Techniques

** Astrophotography Course Includes:


- 1-on-1 Personal Attention

- Telescopes & Optics 101

- Preparation & Setup

- Mount Your Camera to our Stellarvue Telescope

- Nightime Focusing Principles

- Hand On Use of Group Telescope

- Imaging of Multiple Deep Sky Objects

- Imaging of Solar System Objects

- Astrophotography Image Processing Techniques

Anchor 1

Agua Caliente County Park

2 Night Photo Workshop:


Want to get awesome views of the night sky and not travel too far from San Diego? Agua Caliente County Park is the perfect location to do just that!


Agua Caliente Park is a regional camping park nestled in the huge, Anza Borrego Desert State Park and is best known for its geothermally heated springs and rugged desert hiking. 

Three naturally fed pools provide different ways of enjoying the park's mineral water. There are two pools outdoors, and an indoor therapeutic spa is heated to 102 degrees and outfitted with Jacuzzi jets.






This is a night-sky/landscape/nature photographers dream come true. Amazing natural vistas, a reflective lake and a night sky filled with innumerable stars! 


Time to take your DSLR off the automatic setting! Together we will be going over the exposure triangle and how to use these setting to best capture the night sky.










Be part of this awesome event as we take a look at night sky objects like the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy, Lagoon Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, the planet Saturn and more!


Members will try out their hand in Astrophotography by directly attaching their DSLR camera to a 4" Stellarvue Refracting Telescope. Together we will capture amazing images of Deep Sky Objects (DSO's) in the night sky!









If you have been to Joshua Tree or Mt. Palomar, you will be amazed to see that the skies over Agua Caliente easily match and surpass the clarity and darkness of those locations! Not to mention some amazing scenery on the way there!!

Contact Information:


Maxwell Palau


Cell & Text: (619) 770-5255




Camping Details:


Bring along all your camping gear and camp out under the natural star light of the amazing night sky! Includes an amazing campsite location for 2 nights and access to running water, showers and restrooms, outdoor pool & an indoor heated pool!















Recommened Items to Take:





Food & Water 


Warm clothes for the night

Clothes for hiking and day use
Hydration pack 
Hiking boots  
Sleeping bag 
Sleeping pad 
DSLR camera & batteries

Battery chargers & cables 
Notepad & pen/voice recorder 
Hiking poles


Lighter fluid

Flashlights or Headlamps

Logs for burning

Cooking supplies

Plates & Untinsels


Anchor 2

We will be spending 2 nights learning the fundamentals of low light photography, nightscape photography, Milky Way photography and even try out some Astrophotography by mounting your Sony, Canon, Nikon, Pentax DSLR directly to the group telescope.


Day 1


We will be meeting in the public parking lot next to Black Angus Steak House off of Friars Rd. 10370 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120. We will get on the road at around 11:00 AM. Estimated travel time is 2 hours, placing our arrival at around ~1:00 PM.

Upon our arrival, we will begin to set up camp, pitch our tents, organize all materials, meet and greet, etc. After setting up, we can take a quick drive to the nearby store to pick up any necessary items and wood.


Upon our return to camp, we will set up the campfire and make some dinner. I will be bringing some food but probably not enough for everyone for 2 nights. It will be more fun to treat this as a potluck and have all bring something to the table. 


Through and after dinner, I will go over the fundamentals of low light photography, DSLR functions, explain the exposure triangle, talk about wide angle lenses, composing your images, light painting, milky way imaging & the importance of the Lagoon Nebula, star circles, time lapse imaging and give everyone starting settings for their cameras to begin imaging.


We will image the sky at different angles, facing different directions and with different foregrounds. Next we will do some Star Circles and finally get to Milky Way imaging. We will finish off our imaging session by doing time lapse imaging of the milky way.


See examples of Nightscapes & Milky Way.











Day 2


We will begin the with breakfast around 9:30 AM. There are coin showers in the campground available. At around 10:00 prepare for our day photo hike! There are many different trails around the campground, but we will start with the mountain view trail first. It is a moderate hike, less than 2 miles, but filled with plant and animal life and an amazing view!


From there we can take the Spring Trail, another 1.5 miles and continue until we tire out. Features include plants, wildlife, awesome geological structures and great landscapes!! Take a snack and have plenty of water!!


I use 3L Camelbak and recommend that or a water pack of some kind as to keep your hands free for imaging. The weather should be pretty nice on the hike. Have a good hat, comfortable/breathable clothing (NOT COTTON), and sunglasses. I will be bringing along sunblock and a first aid kit on the hike. 

We should get back to camp by no later than 5:00pm to prepare for the night. Also we don't want to get caught in the wild in the dark. Next I will talk about telescopes! The three primary styles, how to pick one, benefits, about optics, telescope eyepieces and accessories, how to set up at telescope with hands on experience for all, locations of night sky objects, basic navigation using the night sky, how to image planets, how to image deep sky objects and a basic rundown on the time it takes to process deep sky images. I have a list of interesting objects prepared for us to view and image, including Jupiter, Saturn, M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy, M13 - The Great Hercules Cluster and more!!


I have telescope adapters for only CanonNikon & Pentax DSLR cameras.


See examples of Astrophotography.











Day 3


Wake up around 8:30 AM and enjoy breakfast and each other's company.


After breakfast we will be doing the Group Nightsky Photo Contest!! Everyone will pick 1 photo from all their own images and enter it in the contest without it being named (no one will know it is your photo). Then we will all judge based on certain criteria I have laid out. Owner of the winning image will get everyone's admiration and a prize!!


Next we begin to take down our campsite, capture some group shots and exchange information before saying our goodbyes.


Camp check out time 12:00 PM - Thank you and Clear Skies to you all!!




HIGHLY recommend that everyone have a remote intervalometer, plenty of storage space and batteries for their cameras. Please visit my Amazon Store if you need any of these items.


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