Highway 1 through Big Sur is known as the 'Most Beautiful Drive in the World'. This 90 mile stretch from San Simeon to Carmel is 'The Greatest Meeting of Land and Sea' on Earth. The Santa Lucia Mountains drop majestically to the ocean creating a dramatic rocky coast. Vista points at each bend provide stunning overlooks to get out and enjoy the view. Drive slow and spend the day admiring one of California's great wild places.
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.
El Camino Cielo or 'Trail to the Sky' is the most beautiful drive in Santa Barbara. Winding through the Santa Ynez Mountains of Los Padres National Forest, the road soars 4,000 feet above the city and provides stunning panoramic vistas and access to hiking trails. Sandstone canyons, towering peaks, chaparral and pine forests combine to create a diverse ecosystem.
Figueroa Mountain is a Recreation Area north of Santa Barbara in Los Padres National Forest. Spring is the best time to visit when the hills and mountains put on the most stunning wildflower displays in California. Grass Mountain can become completely covered in poppies it looks orange from miles away and views from the top stretch across the Santa Ynez Valley all the way to the ocean. Whether hiking the many trails or enjoying a scenic drive, Figueroa Mountain will be an unforgettable experience.
Knapp's Castle is an abandoned mansion in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara. A trail just under one mile out and back takes you to the ruins and a stunning vista point overlooking Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez Valley. George Owen Knapp, founded of Union Carbide, created the mansion for his residence in 1916. Famous Opera Singer Lotte Lehmann moved here in 1940, but the castle was destroyed by fire only 5 weeks later.
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.
Mount Pinos is an 8,831 foot peak in Los Padres National Forest with much of it consisting of granite rocks. The critically endangered California Condor can be spotted flying the surrounding mountains. Native American Chumash called the mountain 'Iwihinmu' or the center of the world: a place of perfect balance. On a clear day, views stretch from the Central Valley, Sierra Nevada, Carrizo Plain and Santa Barbara. Snow falls here each winter making it a four season spot. A 3 mile round-trip hike will take you to the top from the parking area.
Piedra Blanca, meaning white rock in Spanish, are a series of geological rock formations in Los Padres National Forest. The Gene-Marshall Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail takes you just over a mile each way to the site. After crossing the Sespe Creek, the white rocks appear and create a stark contrast to the surrounding forest.
The San Emigdio Mountains are a beautiful transverse mountain range in Los Padres National Forest. Rising high above the southern portion of the Central Valley, these mountains turn brilliant tones of green in the springtime and were named for Saint Emygdius, a Christian Martyr.
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park outside of Santa Barbara protects a sandstone cave adorned with Native American rock art. These Pictographs are thought to depict the universe as seen through the eyes of the Native Chumash. The Chumash lived on the Central Coast from Ventura County to San Luis Obispo County as well as the Channel Islands for thousands and thousands of years. Painted Cave provides an important glimpse into the past of Native Americans.