Description - Palomar Ranger District is named for Palomar Mountain, a 6,126 foot rounded peak in the middle of the District. Palomar, meaning "dove" in colonial Spanish, was named by settlers who saw flocks of birds around the mountain.
The Palomar District includes the Agua Tibia Wilderness to the north, the Santa Ysabel River watershed to the south, and the Indian Flats camping area to the east. The federal lands are interspersed with county, state, and private lands as well as Indian reservations. If you plan to venture off the main highways, be sure to check at the local Ranger State in Ramona for road conditions and closures on private land.
- Palomar Mountain is located 35 miles east of Oceanside off Highway 76. County Road S6 (South Grade Road) leads to Palomar Observatory and two Forest Service campgrounds. County Road S7 (East Grade Road) leads to Palomar Mountain State Park.
The observatory is open to the public 9 AM to 4 PM daily for a self-guided tour of the 100-inch telescope.
To the north, the main access to the Agua Tibia Wilderness is the Dripping Springs Trail (about 6.8 miles long), part of approximately 25 miles of pathways in the wilderness. The steep hillsides are covered with thick chaparral, and some plants may be as old as one hundred years. The tops of the mountains are covered with pine, fir, and oak trees. Agua Tibia Mountain is 4,400 feet and Eagle Crag is 5,007 feet. Snow falls occasionally in winter and early spring.
Recreation - Most visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. Tent, RV and group camping, along with several picnic areas comprise the recreation options found on Palomar Ranger District.
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.
At the nearby Fry Creek and Observatory Campgrounds you can camp under evergreens and oak trees. The 2.1-miles Observatory Trail begins at the east end of the Observatory Campground and ends at the Observatory. A trail guide is available at the District Office in Ramona.
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 Palomar Ranger District is located in the center of the Cleveland National Forest North of Ramona on the east side of Interstate 15.