Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Adventure Pass and Recreational Use Fee’s
  2. Bark Beetles and Drought Stressed Trees
  3. Camping
  4. Campfires
  5. Dogs in Campgrounds and on Trails
  6. Filming and Photography – Commercial Use
  7. History of the Cleveland National Forest
  8. Off Highway Vehicles (OHV)
  9. Plants and Animals on the Forest
  10. Smokey Bear Appearance or Special Event
  11. Raptor Habitat Management
  12. Wilderness

Adventure Pass and Recreational Use Fee’s  Top of Page

Where am I required to have an Adventure Pass or other recreational permit?

Recreation passes and permits, like the Forest Adventure Pass, are required for use of certain recreation sites and areas in the forest, and for certain facilities and services. Most of these facilities require basic amenities (trash cans, bathrooms, paved parking, trail signs) in order to charge a fee for use. Each Ranger Station maintains a listing of Areas, Sites and Services where a fee is required. Visit the Adventure Pass webpage for detailed listing of these sites and areas where a fee is required.  Camping may require a separate fee, usually paid on-site. Private concessionaires operating Forest Service facilities charge their own fees on-site.  How will I know where the fee is required when I'm in the Forest?  Look for the signs to be posted near the entry to designated fee sites & areas, and keep an eye open for the basic amenities required for an Adventure Pass.

Bark Beetles and Drought Stressed Trees  Top of Page

How can I tell the difference between drought stress and bark beetle infestation?

Bark beetle infested tree foliage turns straw-colored in at least one section of the tree or quite often the whole tree. Pitch tubes are often present on attacked trees and appear as white or red pieces of sap on the outside of the tree. Some suggest this appearance is as if the tree is attacked by bubblegum. Only a few of these in a tree need to be present and often binoculars help find the pitch tubes.

What Tree species are susceptible to the Bark Beetle?

Western Pine beetles attack Ponderosa and Coulter pine and have the most aggressive response to drought because of their ability to reproduce several times per year. Large populations growing in stressed trees can then attack even healthy trees and overwhelm them.

Jeffrey Pine beetle attacks Jeffrey pine and does not reproduce as fast as Western Pine beetle. It is present and effective in killing Jeffrey pine but not as epidemic as Western Pine Beetle. Other insects such as Fir engraver and Ips beetles take advantage of stressed trees and can cause mortality as well.

Drought causes stress in trees and other agents such as root diseases can also make it appear as if trees are dying of thirst when they are actually being attacked by other causes.

Why are the pine trees dying?

The trees are weakened by lack of water and produce less sap than a healthy tree. Sap forms the tree's natural defense system, leaving it unable to reject a beetle attack. The beetles are able to bore into the tree, laying their eggs. When the larvae hatch, they feed underneath the bark, cutting off water flow. During warm weather the beetles reproduce in extremely large numbers, allowing them to kill the trees quickly.

Why can't you spray the Forest and eliminate the beetles and can you protect individual trees by spraying?

In order to eliminate beetles from the area, we would have to spray every surface on every tree where beetles might reside. With the rugged terrain in our local mountains, it would not be possible to do so.  Although we cannot eliminate bark beetle populations from the Forest, individual trees can be protected with preventive spraying of the chemical Carbaryl (commonly known as Sevin). The Cleveland National Forest is using this type of spray to protect high value trees in campgrounds and at administrative sites. Such spraying should be done in early spring, before the beetles fly. Individuals considering use of preventive sprays should consult a professional pesticide applicator.

  Camping  Top of Page 

How do I reserve a Campsite?

The ideal camping time in most Forest areas is May to October, prior to winter storm activity. Reservation campgrounds are available; however a few Forest campgrounds are operated on a first-come, first-served basis and fill up quickly during holiday weekends. Forest employees will assist you in choosing an appropriate location to meet your needs. It should be noted that many Cleveland National Forest campgrounds will not accommodate oversized motor homes or camp trailers. handles reservations for most family and some group campgrounds. 

Can I camp in areas outside developed campgrounds?

You may camp outside of developed campgrounds in Undeveloped or Dispersed areas. Dispersed areas are designated areas away from highways and development where camping along back roads or trails is permitted (during high fire season areas may be closed.) Potable water, toilets, and other amenities are not generally available. If you choose to camp outside developed areas, be sure to bring adequate water or be prepared to purify spring water before drinking.  Because of year-around fire danger, wood or charcoal fires are not allowed (includes charcoal in a BBQ).  "Know before you go" and check at the nearest Ranger Station for a map of the Remote Camping Areas and the current fire restrictions. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for most areas. The San Mateo Canyon Wilderness on the Trabuco Ranger District is the only area in which undeveloped camping is allowed.

 Campfires  Top of Page 

Where can I have campfires?

Wood or charcoal fires are allowed only in the designated fire rings located in developed campgrounds and developed picnic areas and not in open areas of the forest. A permit is not required to use these approved fire rings.

 Dogs in Campgrounds and on Trails  Top of Page 

Can I have dogs in the campgrounds and trails?

Your canine companions traditionally have been welcome. The few rules that apply to dogs are meant to assure that you and other National Forest visitors have an enjoyable outdoor recreation experience. Hiking trails and time of year should be considered before taking pets along as some may be too strenuous for dogs. There have been reports of fatalities on trails and ticketing on campgrounds so please make sure you “know before you go.” If you're camping, or hiking, with your pet and want to be sure that privilege is still available, please practice the following, (these rules will be enforced in developed recreation areas):

  • Leave vicious or unusually noisy dogs at home 
  • Please keep your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long, or otherwise restrict its freedom to roam at will
  • Remember to bring enough supplies, including water, for your pets on a hot day
  • At night, keep your dogs and other pets inside an enclosed vehicle or a tent 
  • Developed campgrounds are for people, not animals. Please do not bring more than two dogs or other pet to any one campsite. Guide dogs are an exception. 
  • If you are traveling in a National Forest Wilderness, dogs are permitted. However, if you leave a National Forest Wilderness and enter into a National Park, dogs are not permitted

Filming and Photography – Commercial Use  Top of Page

Can I shoot Film/Video or take Photographs on the National Forest?

Filming permits are required for Commercial Filming/Video and Still Photography on the National Forest. To obtain a special permit, please contact the correct Ranger District in which you plan to film.

History of the Cleveland National Forest  Top of Page

About the Cleveland

Cleveland National Forest was created on July 1, 1908 with the consolidation of Trabuco Canyon National Reserve and San Jacinto National Reserve by President Theodore Roosevelt and named after former president Grover Cleveland. Now, after more than 100 years, the Cleveland National Forest provides habitat for native wildlife, as well as a natural refuge and playground for many of the 3 million plus residents in the greater San Diego area. Read more about the historyof the Cleveland National Forest how it was founded and evolved into the forest it is today! 

Off Highway Vehicles  Top of Page

Where can I ride a motorcycle, ATV, UTV, or take my 4-wheel drive vehicle?

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation is just one of the many uses allowed on National Forest lands., but must adhere to certain regulations:

  • OHV travel is restricted to designated routes.
  • For current OHV opportunities please contact the Ranger station for the area you intend to visit.
  • All vehicles must have current registration; "Green / Red Sticker" or highway licensed, issued by the state department of motor vehicles.  Unregistered vehicles may be impounded.
  • "Red Sticker" vehicles have a limited riding season during the year on the forest.
  • If highway licensed, the vehicle must meet all standards for operating on a public highway.
  • ATV's never are permitted on street-legal routes.
  • OHV trails are limited to vehicles less than 50 inches wide.
  • Visit this site for more information

Plants and Animals on the Forest  Top of Page

How many varieties of plants and animals live on the forest?

The Cleveland National Forest is home to almost 500 wildlife species and thousands of plant species. Over 25 of these species are listed as threatened or endangered. Please keep this in mind as you stroll through the forest so as not to disturb the beautiful surroundings.

Smokey Bear Appearance and Special Events  Top of Page

How can I get Smokey to appear in my classroom or next special event?

Smokey the Bear is available for many special events or educational programs and he is happy to assist when and where he can. Please contact the Public Affairs Officer who can direct you to the ranger district assigned to your area.

Raptor Habitat Management  Top of Page

What is Raptor Management and what is the Cleveland doing with it?

Raptor is a term used for birds, or “birds of prey,” those that hunt and feed on other animals. In the Cleveland National Forest, this includes Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcons, and Peregrine Falcons. Information on these lovely birds can be found here. Raptor Management refers to the efforts by the Cleveland to protect the nesting sites of these wonderful creatures. As a result, area closures are common and 6 noted nesting sites are currently being monitored. For more information on these closures, and what the Forest Service is doing to assist these animals, please visit here.  

Wilderness  Top of Page

What is “Wilderness”

According to the Wilderness Act of 1964, wilderness areas are "where earth and its community of life remains untrammeled, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." Wilderness Protection will never be gained simply by issuing a set of rules and regulations. It must come with love and understanding of the land. Wilderness Protection is a personal ethic. Some mark is left in Wilderness each time we visit, but each of us can make sure this mark is a small one. Minimum impact or no trace camping should be considered common sense behavior in the back country, but many people are not aware of what they leave behind.