Two major highways travel through Ramona. State Route 67 begins in El Cajon as an exit off of Interstate 8 and heads north through Lakeside. It ends in Ramona at the intersection of 10th and Main streets.
Another highway picks up the route going on to Julian and points east. State Route 78 begins on the coast in Oceanside, going east from Interstate 5. It travels as a freeway past the cities of Vista and San Marcos before switching to surface streets in Escondido and heading up the mountain to Ramona via the Escondido Grade.
At the 10th and Main intersection, where SR-67 ends, Highway 78 makes a left turn and picks up the well-traveled route to Julian. East of Ramona, the highway passes through the areas known as Witch Creek and Ballena
When Highway 78 was paved between Ramona and Julian in the 1930s, workers stayed in the Witch Creek Hotel. Located 12 miles east of Ramona and three miles west of Santa Ysabel, the hotel was built alongside the dirt road that later became state Route 78. The hotel was torn down in 1948.
In Santa Ysabel, SR-78 is joined by state Route 79. The road is designated Highway 78/79 all the way into Julian, where it splits off on the far side of town. SR-78 continues down through Banner and all the way east to Brawley and ending in Blythe before traversing nearly the entire width of Southern California, more than 215 miles.
SR-79 takes a right turn to go down through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to Descanso, and ending at Interstate 8. SR-79 is about 107 miles in length.
Highway 67 took over for Mussey Grade Road, which replaced the old Atkinson Toll Road in the 1880s. The San Vicente Dam, built in the 1940s, closed Mussey Grade as a thoroughfare and Highway 67 became the main route from El Cajon and Lakeside to Ramona, traveling about 24 miles.
Eucalyptus trees on either side of the highway make a colonnade approach into Ramona. The highway continues on through the commercial area of town, switching from two lanes to four lanes. The four lanes continue as SR-78 through the rest of the business area, going back to two-lane traffic at Third Street.
A scenic and pleasant drive makes a loop from Ramona east on SR-78 to Julian, then turning onto SR-79 going down through Cuyamaca to I-8, west to the SR-67 exit and back up through Lakeside and on into Ramona.
History of the two highways was researched in the books Highways to History by Chris Wray, and On Memory’s Back Trail by Darrell Beck. Information also was obtained from the archives at San Diego Historical Society and Ramona Community Library.