Special Event Policy

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Special Event Policy and Fee Schedule

To apply for a Special Event Permit, please complete and submit the application form. All fees described in this policy will be paid to Olivenhain Municipal Water District, who maintains and operates the 784-acre reserve.

Each event organizer for any event included in this policy must obtain a $1 million per incident and $2 million aggregate commercial general liability insurance policy naming Olivenhain Municipal Water District as an additional insured. If alcohol is to be included as part of an event, the insurance policy must include Liquor Liability Coverage.

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Photo/Film Events

The Reserve offers a variety of scenery for still photographers and filmmakers for backdrops and film footage. OMWD appreciates the beauty and diversity of its facilities and encourages the use of the Reserve for photo and film opportunities, while maintaining the integrity of the environment and the enjoyment of its visitors.

OMWD reserves the right to reject permit applications for photo/film shoots that contain subject matter that OMWD, in its sole discretion, determines is inappropriate.

Reservation procedures and fees for using the Reserve are outlined below:

  • A minimum of a $1,000,000 insurance policy naming Olivenhain Municipal Water District is required.
  • Requests for photo/film permits may be made by completing the Special Event Permit Application and faxing it to OMWD at 760-753-1578 or submitting via email.  Please allow a minimum of 72 hours (not including weekends and holidays) processing time prior to scheduled film/photoshoot.
  • A walk-through may also be required with OMWD ranger staff to determine the location, if the facility can accommodate the requested use, and if staff film monitors will be required. Film monitors and/or additional ranger staff is at the expense of the filmmaker/photographer and will be collected by OMWD.
  • Any special requests/needs will be handled on an individual basis at the time of the application.
  • The Reserve is open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. Requests for early entry or late stay will result in additional charges.
  • Because weekends and holidays are generally the busiest times at the Reserve, all filming activities (including preparation/setup) are only permitted to take place Monday through Friday during Reserve hours.
  • Photography activities on weekends and holidays are permitted on a case-by-case basis.


  • Fees for still photography shoots are $50 per hour, $200 for a half-day, and $400 for a whole day.
  • Fees for film/video shoots are $100 per hour, $400 for a half-day, and $800 for a whole day.
  • Fee for using the Reserve as a production base is $500 per day. An additional $50 catering fee will apply if a caterer is present.
  • Total payment for the permit is due prior to the shoot.

For additional information or questions, please call OMWD ranger staff at 760-632-4212.

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Race Events

OMWD recognizes that the Reserve is a desirable location for race events, and strives to find the balance between safely offering these types of events at the Reserve while still offering adequate access of Reserve trails and facilities to the public during these events. For that reason, any proposed race event (e.g., mountain bike, running, duathlon, etc.) will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Minimal requirements for race events are:

  • Event organizer must demonstrate their competency in running events of this nature in open space parks.
  • Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District must both have its safety requirements satisfied for any event that is to take place within or to pass through the Reserve. Written documentation of approval is required.
  • All race participants and staff must sign an OMWD liability release form.
  • No lasting damage or changes to the Reserve may occur as a result of any race event.
  • For any race event that includes areas outside the Reserve, race organizer must provide proof that permission has been granted for the event to take place on other property(ies).


  • A $300 administration fee will be paid to OMWD prior to any approved race event.
  • A $5 per participant fee will be collected by the Race Organizer and paid to OMWD for any approved race event.

For additional information or questions, please call OMWD ranger staff at 760-632-4212.

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Interpretive Center Facility Rentals

OMWD owns and operates the unique Elfin Forest Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty at Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in Escondido, CA. This 1,000-square-foot facility is generally open to the public and staffed by Reserve docents, but can be made available for private special events. Due to the nature of the interpretive center’s contents, a park ranger is required to be on site for all special events and that staff time is built into the following rental fee schedule.

Hourly Fees

  • OMWD Customer Non-Profit Organization: $100/hour
  • Non-OMWD Customer Non-Profit Organization: $125/hour
  • OMWD Customer Private Event: $200/hour
  • Non-OMWD Customer Private Event: $250/hour

Interpretive Center Rental Rules and Conditions

Renters of the interpretive center agree to the following rules and conditions:

  • Minimum rental time is 2 hours.
  • $300 deposit is required upon reservation.
  • Deposit is refundable up to 72 hours prior to reservation.
  • Rental time includes setup, breakdown, and cleanup of facility.
  • Renters are responsible for the contents of the interpretive center and will be charged for missing or damaged items and for additional cleanup if costs exceed the deposit amount.
  • Setup and breakdown must occur immediately before and after rental.
  • The interpretive center is subject to closure during severe weather. If this occurs, renter can reschedule or request a refund.
  • Maximum event size is 50 people.
  • Staging area parking is not guaranteed for renters of the interpretive center.
  • Children must be under adult supervision at all times.
  • Alcohol use by a private party does not require a Liquor License from the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control or the Reserve when the following conditions exist: 1) when there is no payment for contracted vendor services who are providing the alcohol; 2) when there are no donations, fees, or charges requested if attending the event; and 3) when the event is not open to the general public.
  • If a group contracts with a caterer or beverage vendor to supply the alcohol, then it is the responsibility of the event organizer to ensure that the service provider has a valid Liquor License.
  • Alcohol service must end one hour prior to the end of the event.
  • Rentals extending after the Reserve hours are subject to an additional $100/hour fee.
  • The interpretive center is not available for rental on weekends or holidays.
  • The use of an open flame is limited to outdoor space heaters and chaffing dish-heating devices.

For additional information or questions, please call OMWD ranger staff at 760-632-4212.

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Special Events in Trail Areas

OMWD realizes that the Reserve offers many scenic areas that are perfect for special events such as secluded, small wedding ceremonies. Due to the popularity of the Reserve for its recreational opportunities, special events in trail areas are permitted but limited to the following:

  • Events may only take place Monday through Friday (holidays excluded).
  • Events may take place on trails, viewing areas, overlooks or picnic areas.
  • Events at the Elfin Forest Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty are allowed but are subject to the Interpretive Center Facility Rental restrictions above.
  • Events in trail areas may include no more than 30 participants.
  • No trail or access to a trail may be blocked by the event.


  • $250 per hour (including setup, breakdown and cleanup)

For additional information or questions, please call OMWD ranger staff at 760-632-4212.

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Commercial Activities in Trail Areas

The Reserve was created to provide unique recreational opportunities to the general public. Many service-based businesses (e.g., fitness trainers, dog walkers, etc.) utilize public areas to serve their clients. These activities displace the general public and detract from the overall experience the Reserve was intended to convey to its patrons. For this reason, entities that would like to utilize the Reserve’s amenities for their business are required to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Commercial activities are not permitted on weekends and holidays.
  • Groups may not exceed 40 people or 5 animals.
  • Groups must carpool to minimize impact on parking.
  • Groups must obtain a Special Event Permit prior to arriving at the Reserve.
  • Fees for non-profit organizations or school groups may be waived at the discretion of OMWD.


  • $5 per participant

For additional information or questions, please call OMWD ranger staff at 760-632-4212.


Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

8833 Harmony Grove Road
Escondido, CA 92029

Mailing Address
1966 Olivenhain Road
Encinitas, CA 92024


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