Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile

A Tour of the Back Country: Scenic Highway 94

Take a tour of San Diego Back Country via Highway 94 also known as Campo Road and SR94. It can be a bit confusing if you are not a native to San Diego County.

Highway 94 runs from Downtown San Diego to the distant back country of the county. Highway 94 splits to the right to continue into the back country but first it seems to end at Jamacha Road. Picking back up at the juncture of Campo Road in Rancho El Cajon area.

From Rancho El Cajon Highway 94 continues into the hills and valleys of San Diego County running parallel with the Mexico border. In some places it meanders within 5 miles of the border. The back road has seen many overhauls, with curves bypassed and straightened out. If you look closely you can see remnants of the old highway slowly fading under dirt and rock.

Once you leave Rancho El Cajon, you enter the Steel Canyon area which leads you into Jamul. Jamul has been home to the Barrett House and Simpson’s Nursery, now closed. Both properties are still owned by the Simpsons. A new nursery has opened up at the juncture of Willow Glen and Campo Road/Highway 94. Not on the same scale, yet plenty of plants to select from.

After passing the Barrett House and Simpson’s Nursery, you find a nice stretch of road that shows off some of the country side. Winding on up the hill and a few homes scattered around. Beautiful views of the hills in the distance. CalFire and Dulzura Daycare are on the left side of the road. Beyond that is more open country.

As you drive out along the road you get to see some of the beautiful fields which during the summer months are a rich, soft brown and the winter months, provided plenty of rain, are rich green. Some of the trees are larger than life, they have been a part of the back country at least 100 years or better. Not sure anyone has dated them. But the larger the trunk size the older the tree.

Dulzura Cafe still stands, no longer open. The post office came close to getting closed down, but somehow managed to remain in businesses. The stretch of road through this part of Dulzura is lined with plenty of trees. Offering a nice, cool shaded drive.

The back country of San Diego County is rich in history with many of the families having homesteads dating back into the early 1800s and maybe before then. Many of the families still live in the back country. Wineries, horse ranches, cattle, are all important aspects to the area.

Many of the original businesses, buildings, and families have moved on to be replaced with more modern and up-to-date facilities. Campo for instance has lost a couple small businesses to be replaced with a concrete shopping area housing a gas station, Subway Sandwich Shop and small minimart. An area of Campo that use to be considered farm or cattle land now houses a small housing community. Time moves on.

Jamul is fighting to keep a casino out of its neighborhood. Despite the ongoing battle, the building continues. When you reach this part of Jamul, slow down, they are hauling out and hauling in, landscaping and restructuring the land where the casino is going to be built.

It is a shame to lose so much history, but those who remember are passing on and those who do not are moving in. We cannot live in tomorrow, or yesterday, only today. But we can improve on life when we remember those who came before us.

The back country is a beautiful place to visit, live, and build a life. The country is filled with potential. On your Highway 94 journey, stop in for lunch, tell Leon hello and enjoy his homemade barbecue or fish fry.


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