Description - The Descanso Ranger District is bisected by Interstate 8 in San Diego County. The northwest portion in the Laguna Mountains is the most heavily visited. The southern section includes two wilderness areas, Pine Creek and Hauser.
Descanso means "rest" or "repose" in Spanish. A party of land surveyors rested at a ranch house in the community, which is on Old Highway 80 about 2 miles north of I-80.
- The Sunrise Scenic Byway (County Route S1) begins at Laguna Junction on Interstate 8 and runs through the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. From viewpoints along the highway, travelers can view the desert and Salton Sea to the east and San Diego, Point Loma and the Pacific Ocean to the west. There are some tourist facilities in Pine Valley and Mt. Laguna along the way. A map of the Sunrise Scenic Byway with points of interest is available on the Cleveland National Forest web site.
In addition to the many Forest Service campgrounds, camping is available at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and some private campgrounds in the nearby communities. Undeveloped (remote) camping is permitted outside most areas of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area and outside developed campgrounds. A free overnight visitor permit is required and may be obtained at any Forest Service office in person, by mail, or by telephone.
A visitor information center is located at Mt. Laguna and is staffed on weekends and holidays.
Recreation - Visitors to this the Descanso Ranger District enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding are very popular. Tent, RV and group camping can be found at federal, state, and private facilities. Fishing, scenic driving, nature study, wildlife viewing, and off-highway vehicle use are also pursued.
Forest visitors on the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests of Southern California are required to purchase an Adventure Pass and display it on their vehicle when parked in the Forest. The cost is $5 per day or $30 per year and can be purchased in any Forest Service office or over 350 businesses throughout Southern California.
Climate - A warm, dry Mediterranean climate prevails over the Cleveland National Forest - hot in the summer, mild in the winter. Most of the precipitation comes as rain during the winter months.
The Descanso Ranger District is located in the southern portion of the Cleveland National Forest, south of Ramona, east of Alpine and north of the Mexican border.