Description - Visitors are attracted to the Monterey Ranger District for the variety of landscapes and recreational settings.
The Monterey Ranger District covers 325,000 acres. The habitat is brush and steep and the pig population is sparse. The better hunting areas tend to be Chews Ridge and the Upper San Antonio and Arroyo Seco River drainages. Remote areas of the Ventana Wilderness offer the best hunting. Due to seasonal high fire danger, always check with Forest authorities before hunting.
The magnificent Big Sur Coast is comprised of National Forest, California State Park, and private land. There are several small communities with amenities and shops along Highway 1. The communities of Morro Bay and Cambria are to the south, while Carmel and Monterey are to the north. Salmon Creek, 3 miles north of Ragged Point off Highway 1, has a nice waterfall and provides a gateway into the Silver Peak Wilderness.
Other Monterey Ranger District highlights include Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Hearst Castle, San Simeon State Park, and Point Lobos State Preserve.
Two federal designated wilderness areas lie within Monterey; Ventana and Silver Peak. The Ventana Wilderness encompasses approximately 216,500 acres. Steep-sided sharp-crested ridges separating V-shaped youthful valleys characterize topography of the Ventana Wilderness. Most streams fall rapidly through narrow vertical-walled canyons. Waterfalls, deep pools and thermal springs are found along major streams. The Silver Peak Wilderness is approximately 14,5000 acres in size and provides dramatic scenery, steep terrain and coastal redwood groves.
Most of the Monterey District is in the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas. The area is famous for its rugged beauty and has many beautiful trails, most of which are challenging. Some of the trails on the Highway 1 side of the district follow creeks, which have California Coastal Redwood trees along the banks for the first few miles.
The three major rivers running through the Monterey Ranger District are great swimming destinations - caution is advised. Arroyo Seco River flows all year and is a major attraction on the inland side of the district. Swimming and general water play is very popular at Arroyo Seco Campground / Day Use Area. Big Sur River (within the Wildernesses) is a designated national "Wild and Scenic" river offering outstanding scenery (redwood shores), along with a host of other low impact recreations. Carmel River flows 36 miles from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Pacific Ocean south of Monterey Peninsula.
Recreation - If you like backcountry exploration then Monterey Ranger District is for you. There are numerous Wilderness trails, swimming holes, river access, dispersed and developed camping opportunities, sightseeing, scuba diving, ocean fishing, and much more.
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 - Climate on the Los Padres varies greatly with elevation and the amount of coastal influence. Areas with more coastal influence experience moderate temperatures year round with fog likely from June through mid-August. Plan your coastal visit in the late summer or fall to ensure the best conditions for viewing the scenery. Also, occasional clear days between winter and spring storms are incomparable. Areas further inland experience greater temperature extremes, with relatively cooler winters and hot summers. Inland areas often receive frost on winter nights. As throughout most of California most of the precipitation comes in the winter months, with April through October normally very dry.
The Monterey Ranger District extends north from the Monterey / San Luis Obispo county line to Carmel Valley and includes the scenic Santa Lucia mountains.