Mount Soledad Park provides a bird’s eye view, at 822 feet above sea level, of the entire San Diego metropolitan area and the Pacific Ocean. On a crystal clear day (often after a rain storm or during Santa Ana Winds), you can clearly see homes in Mexico and the snowcapped mountains in Los Angeles (Mount San Antonio also known as Old Baldy), San Bernardino (San Gorgonio Mountain), and Riverside (Mount San Jacinto) Counties. All of these peaks reach over 10,000 feet. Even on a day with very low clouds or fog, Mt. Soledad can provide quite a treat when it sits above the banks of fog that fill in the surrounding canyons.
Looking to the north, you will see up to Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base that separates San Diego and Orange Counties. To the west, you will have a beautiful look down to the palm tree lined beach at La Jolla Shores and the Pacific Ocean. To the south, you will see downtown San Diego, Coronado, and Mexico. Finally, to the east, you will see Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where the movie Top Gun was filmed, and the San Diego Mountains. Also, when you look to the east, look past MCAS Miramar for a ridge line the runs north-south just before the mountain range. This ridge line used to be the sea cliffs one million years ago. Everything you see in between used to be a part of the ocean floor.
At the top of Mt Soledad is a cross that can be seen throughout San Diego. It’s a large concrete Latin cross, first built in 1913, and rebuilt twice. After it was challenged in court during the late 1980s, it was designated a Korean War memorial. It became the center of a controversy, known around the world, over the display of religious symbols on government property. Beginning in 1989 and ongoing to the present, the Mt. Soledad Cross had been involved in a continuous litigation regarding its legal status. According to the interpretation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and No Preference Clause of the California Constitution by the opponents of the cross, it is illegal to display a religious symbol, such as a Christian cross, on public land, as it demonstrates preference to a specific religion and thus violates the separation of church and state. It was ruled unconstitutional in January 2011. CNN says the case will "almost certainly" be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Surrounding the cross is a memorial to military veterans. You will see plaques commemorating the efforts of individual veterans. There are over 3,000 black granite plaques placed on the walls of the Memorial honoring veterans, living and deceased, from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in the Middle East. The plaques on the walls tell you the stories of scores of men and women from Presidents, Medal of Honor recipients, Admirals, Generals, Hollywood celebrities and thousands of others with names that are unfamiliar, but who proudly served our country to help protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. A number of special events take place throughout the year, especially on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Because of the variety of long steady climbs, light traffic on most routes, and great views, Mount Soledad is a popular cycling destination and area. There are numerous routes ranging from the relatively gradual on the southern slopes to the very steep and short on the north side.
Mount Soledad also holds the last home lived in by Dr. Seuss. His widow, Audrey Geisel, still resides atop Mount Soledad in a lavish home that includes “The Cat in the Hat” and an observation tower that is referred to as the “Seuss House” by the locals.
To get the most out of your visit we suggest you park your car and enjoy the spectacular view. You will find a handful of parking spots along the circle that takes you around the Memorial and back to the main street. If you are unable to find a parking spot here, you will find a much larger gravel parking area closer to the entrance of the park.