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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


Callitropsis sargentii Sargent cypress (Callitropsis sargentii). Photo by Lloyd Simpson.

Ceanothus foliosus var. medius Wavy-leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus foliosus var. medius). Photo by Lloyd Simpson.

Sidalcea hickmanii ssp. anomala Cuesta Pass checkerbloom (Sidalcea hickmanii ssp. anomala). Photo by Lloyd Simpson.

Cuesta Ridge Botanical Special Interest Area

Forest: Los Padres National Forest

District: Santa Lucia Ranger District

Description: The Cuesta Ridge Botanical Special Interest Area is located along the southern crest of Santa Lucia Mountains, Monterey County, California. Over 1,300 acres in size, this floristically diverse serpentine area contains two plant communities of special interest: the Sargent cypress forest and the chaparral. The Sargent cypress is a fire-adapted conifer restricted to scattered groves in the Coast Range in California. This viewing area provides the best access to a Sargent cypress grove.

The serpentine chaparral habitat is home to a number of serpentine endemic species. Wavy-leaf ceanothus, Cuesta Pass checkerbloom, serpentine manzanita, San Luis sedge and San Luis mariposa lily are all found in this area.

Viewing Information: The best time to visit is in May and June to see plants in flower.

Safety First: Visitors are urged to drive carefully on the windy road that runs through the area.

Directions: From the city of San Luis Obispo, drive north on Highway 101 to the Cuesta Grade. Turn west onto 29S11 at the top of the grade and drive carefully to the west up to the ridge.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District.

Closest Town: San Luis Obispo, California.