Pala is a small, mostly Native American, community located in the Pala Indian Reservation, located within San Diego County, California near Fallbrook. For centuries a traditional gathering place of native peoples, it was selected in the early 19th century by Spanish Franciscan missionaries as the site of a mission to serve the Native Americans.
The community is north of Escondido in the San Diego-Carlsbad metro area. In the National Geographic Names Database, it is officially catalogued as feature number 1661174. The community is in ZIP Code 92059, and inside area code 760.
The community name may be derived from the Native American Cupeño or Luiseño language term pal, meaning "water." Another possible origin of the name is the Spanish word pala, which means "shovel."
The community is in the Pacific time zone. Pala is at an altitude of 404 feet, located at latitude 33°21′55″N 117°04′36″W / 33.36528°N 117.07667°W / 33.36528; -117.07667 (33.365N, longitude 117.075W).