Hudson Ranch Road is a scenic drive through Los Padres National Forest from Highway 33 to Frazier Park. Sweeping views of the Central Valley, Carrizo Plain National Monument, San Emigdio Mountains and the Chumash Wilderness are revealed at each bend. Visit in the Spring for dramatic green hills covered in wildflowers.
The Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes are the largest coastal dune ecosystem in California at 18 miles long. Several opportunities are available from relaxing at Rancho Guadalupe Dunes County Park, off-roading at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area and camping at Pismo State Beach. Native American Chumash used the site as a fishing village and hunted alongside wild grizzly bears.
Cecil B. DeMille filmed his famous epic 'The Ten Commandments' in 1923 and buried the gigantic sets after filming. Excavated pieces of 'Egypt' have been discovered in the shifting sands. This National Natural Landmark also preserves many endangered plants and animals. Enjoy exploring these wild, uncrowded dunes.
Bishop Peak is the highest of the 'Nine Sisters' volcanic plugs at 1,559 feet. The rocky peak resembling a Bishop's miter was named during the Mission days. Run as a natural reserve, ecosystems include chaparral, grassland and oak woodland making it important for conservation. A moderate 4.4 mile out and back hike will bring you to the top with sweeping views of San Luis Obispo and its valleys.
Rancho Sierra Vista Satwiwa in the Santa Monica Mountains preserves sacred Native American land of the Chumash and Tongva/Gabrielino. The iconic Boney Peak provides a dramatic backdrop for this once village called 'Satwiwa' or Bluff where 150 archeological sites have been discovered. The area was first visited by Europeans in 1769-70 during the famous Portolá expedition and again in 1774 during the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition. Enjoy miles of trails and Spring wildflowers in a landscape largely unchanged.
Anacapa Island is the smallest of Channel Islands National Park and is a series of 3 islets totaling 5 miles long. Though tiny, its beauty is unmatched with its dramatic sea cliffs, coves and ocean vistas. California sea lions & harbor seals are heard and seen nesting along its coastline while western gulls call this place home in the Spring and make up the largest breeding colony in the world. Native Americans used the island for thousands of years and called it 'Anypakh' or 'Mirage'.
Carrizo Plain National Monument is a true wilderness experience in California's Great Central Valley. More than 200,000 acres of untouched beauty reveal what the entire valley looked like long before development. Beautiful grassland plains hug rolling hills blanketed by a rainbow of wildflowers in the Spring. The San Andreas Fault cuts right through the plain giving it a rich geological history. Native Chumash considered the plain sacred and inhabited the area for at least 4,000 years.
Today, this is the only original California grassland strand remaining. The highest concentration of endangered species in the state reside here including the tule elk, pronghorn, San Joaquin kit fox & antelope squirrel, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, giant kangaroo rat as well as the California condor. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management as opposed to the National Park Service, the plain is continuously in a controversial debate over grazing, solar power and oil drilling rights. One visit will have you one the side for preservation.
*Access is dirt road only, 4 wheel drive strongly recommended
Morro Rock in an ancient volcano and main landmark of Morro Bay at 581 feet. This monolith is protected as Morro Rock State Preserve which includes the surrounding stretch of coast as a beach. It is the first of San Luis Obispo's 'Nine Sisters' or volcano plugs created 20 million years ago. Native Chumash and Salinan consider it sacred and archeological evidence has found settlements near the site dating 6500-2000 B.C. Morro Rock is the perfect place to relax on the Central Coast.
Mission San Buenaventura or 'Mission by the Sea' is the 9th California Mission founded on Easter Sunday: March 31, 1782. It was the last Mission under the vision of Padre Serra. The current church was built between 1792 and 1809 making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in California. Native Chumash created an aqueduct with a steady water supply allowing the mission to flourish and create beautiful gardens which can still be enjoyed to this day.
Jacinto Reyes is a 36 mile National Scenic Byway in Ventura County. The scenic route, also known as Highway 33, winds through beautiful mountain canyons of Los Padres National Forest and offers stunning vista points along the way. Four National Wilderness areas can be accessed here for those seeking solitude. Come for the day and stay for the sunsets.
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park preserves one of the four original presidios or military districts of Alta California. Founded on April 21st 1782, its primary purpose was to protect the mission and settlers against local attack or foreign invasion. It was also the primary government and cultural center from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo. Today, the presidio operates as a State Park Museum that offers a glimpse into the past with original and restored structures.