Special Places

The San Bernardino National Forest has many special places including three National Monuments, eight designated Wilderness Areas, three Wild & Scenic Rivers, and many more noteworthy and beautiful locales.  We invite you to explore and learn more about them using the links below and in the right column.

Highlighted Areas

Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mtns. National Monument

Rising abruptly from the desert floor, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument reaches an elevation of 10,834 feet. Providing a picturesque backdrop to local communities, visitors can enjoy magnificent palm oases, snow-capped mountains, a national scenic trail, and wilderness areas. Its extensive backcountry can be accessed via trails from both the Coachella Valley and the alpine village of Idyllwild.

Jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service, the Monument’s boundary encompasses about 280,000 acres, including public lands within the BLM’s California Desert Conservation Area and the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest. The Monument includes two Federal wilderness areas -- the Santa Rosa and the San Jacinto.

The Monument was established by an Act of Congress on October 24, 2000, "in order to preserve the nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational, and scientific values found in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains" (Public Law 106-351). Establishment of the Monument reflects the vision of local citizens and national leaders to ensure this special landscape is protected for all time.

Information about the Monument can be obtained at each agency office or at the link below. The Idyllwild Ranger Station is a good source for hiking information. The Idyllwild Nature Center offers natural and cultural history exhibits and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center 760-862-9984 south of Palm Desert on Highway 74, has interpretive displays, information about the Monument, and hosts many events and activities. Mt. San Jacinto State Park has a small visitor center at the top of the Palm Springs Aeriel Tram.

Deep Creek Hot Springs

The landscape surrounding Deep Creek is unique in a southern California context, and its recreation opportunities are valued at the regional and national levels. Thermal hot springs located here are unique and regionally important.

Deep Creek supports the greatest diversity of wildlife habitats of any drainage on the San Bernardino National Forest and has earned the State designation of a Wild Trout Stream. It also represents some of the greatest diversity of vegetation communities of any drainage on the national forest. The surrounding area represents a transit conifer forest. The vegetation ranges from sparse creosote, chamise and California buckwheat at lower elevations to oak and pinyon woodland and scattered mixed conifer, healthy riparian habitats are also present. 
 The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) follows the creek from the Lake Arrowhead area to the Mojave River Forks Dam for 16 miles as part of the 2,650 mile national scenic trail crossing Deep Creek twice on elevated bridges. For more information on the Pacific Crest Trail, visit their website at www.pcta.org.

Also, Deep Creek is home to the Southwestern Arroyo Toad, an endangered species who lives in the sandy shore of the creek. The toad is a small (2.2-2.9 inches), dark-spotted and light-olive green or gray to tan with dark spots and warty skin. The toad lives from confluence of the Mojave River up to an elevation of 4,300 feet usually spending the day burrowed in the sand and coming out at night to forage for food.

Heaps Peak Arboretum Day Use Area

Located on State Highway 18 west of the community of Skyforest. Come and escape the city and visit our unique mountain oasis of natural beauty! Experience the Heaps Peak Arboretum's gardens, "animal tracks trail," mini-gift booth, and inquire about educational programs. Heaps Peak Arboretum, located at 6,000', is open 365 days a year and is free to the public. Heaps Peak's unique arboretum and botanical gardens greet visitors with a diversity of native plants, and also a few “introductions.” No snow play or picnic areas at this site. Open all year.

Deep Creek

Deep Creek is on the north slope of the San Bernardino Mountains about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Originating at approximately 6,200 ft, the stream drops about 3,000 ft in its 22-mile course before flowing into the East Fork Mojave River. Remote high gradient stream, deep pools and boulder strewn reaches, torrential flows during rainstorms.


Palms to Pines Scenic Byway

This 67-mile route will take you from Palm Desert past snow-peaked mountains to Banning Pass. Palms to Pines Scenic Byway offers a full variety of ecosystems in the Lower Sonoran region. From clusters of desert palms to high country conifer forests and snow-capped mountains, experience a contrast of ecosystems within a short distance. Admire fantastic views of the urbanized valley floor below, craggy mountains, and the San Gorgonio Wilderness area to the north on the Banning Pass section of the byway. Start on Hwy 74 south of Palm Desert, or at the other end Hwy 243 south of Banning.

Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument website

For more information: Trails and Trailhead Locations at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

This 110-mile route traverses the rim of the San Bernardino Mountains from Cajon Pass to San Gorgonio Pass. The Rim of the World Scenic Byway travels through some of the most naturally beautiful areas in Southern California. Spectacular vistas and panoramas exist everywhere along the route. This Byway encompasses portions of California Highways 138, 18, and 38. This Byway is open year-round, but you may need chains in the winter as this area does receive snow.  the portion of the route between Mill Creek and Onyx Summit offer unique views of the Sand to Snow National Monument.  Call the Big Bear Discovery Center (909) 382-2790 (closed Tues/Wed) for more information.

Rim of the World Snow Play Area

Sledding, building snowmen, and making snow angels are all a very popular past-time in the San Bernardino Mountains. Visitors are encouraged to recreate in the following areas:

Along State Highway 18, from Crest Park Picnic Area to Switzer Picnic Area

Along State Highway 18, East of Santas Village to just East of Heaps Peak / Allison Ranch Road

Along State Highway 18, from Green Valley Lake Road to the east highway gates in Snow Valley.

Map of Snow Play Areas

Sand to Snow National Monument

The 154,000-acre monument extends from Bureau of Land Management lands on the Sonoran desert floor up to over 10,000 feet in the San Gorgonio Wilderness on the San Bernardino National Forest.

The striking diversity of lands within this monument is breathtaking – they are filled with the stories of ancient peoples, soaring mountain peaks, critical wildlife corridors and rich biological diversity. They also offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities for urban populations living close to the shadows of these majestic mountain peaks.  The San Gorgonio Mountain region serves as an important recreational hub for 24 million people living within a two-hour drive of the area.

The Sand to Snow National Monument is co-managed by the U.S. Forest Service (71,000 acres on the San Bernardino National Forest) and the Bureau of Land Management (83,000 acres of the California Desert District). Within the monument boundary, both agencies manage approximately 101,000 acres as Wilderness.

Learn more about the monument: