I found the following info for the Santa Rosa Mountains:
Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center
51-500 Highway 74
Palm Desert, CA 92260
A call to the The Monument Visitor Center verified that Santa Rosa Mtn. Road reopened 11-8-07. It had been closed due to extreme wildfire danger and lack of available firefighters.
Three camgrounds, Pinyon Flat (@ 4,000'), Ribbonwood Equestrian (@ 4,000') and Santa Rosa Springs (@ 7,200') are designated on the agency's map and further listed on the San Bernardino National Forest website:
The Hundred Peaks Section,Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club Driving & Climbing Guides:
Area peaks:Asbestos is right across Hwy 74. Santa Rosa Mtn. is on the way up to Toro.
but attach it to the Penisular Ranges so it can be found easily by other people.
"In my opinion, the access is kind of cloudy, so you'll have to follow your nose here to play it safe."
It's pretty clear from the HPS writeup (link provided by MtnAire) that the peak is off-limits to peakbaggers, not cloudy at all. The HPS has even designated nearby Pt. 8,316ft as a replacement. Still, the odds of being caught are very low. You're the only one I've heard of being confronted up there.
I read the HPS route info a few weeks ago and noted the new edits about avoiding Toro Peak proper and going to the consolation peak 8316. Prior to that, the HPS page simply suggested to park at the Y and walk to the top. The Santa Rosa band may be cracking down on visitation. In any case, the work crew surrounding me and telling me to get lost was an unpleasant experience. I went back, did it properly and now I never need to go back, ever! But yes, your point is well-taken. The peak is "off limits" but it is unclear just how carefully it will be patrolled.
The access issue seems to have changed completely. I drove my Subaru up a few days ago. Not a single gate or sign prevented access on the road. In fact one sign mentioned public access for street legal vehicles. There were a lot of other people driving the road as well including families bringing kids up to play in the snow. Near the top several official campgrounds have been installed. The only mention of Indian land we saw was on the descent. We traversed from the west peak off-trail/road to the main peak. Coming down from the main summit on the road, about a tenth of a mile down, we passed through a closed gate which deterred access to the summit area. Two other people I know have done this peak recently which is what encouraged me to try it despite the hassle Scott reports about on this page. One of them did it on a week day and encountered workers at the top. He says they were friendly.
Thank you for this information. I am glad to see it's open again for access, and that it seems those in charge seem to be okay with allowing the public up there. I grow more and more convinced that my encounter up there was a fluke, maybe that one guy's dog had bit him and wife left him that morning, and was in a bad mod. Anyway, since this peak has had a history of being closed or being open, any new updates are always welcome.