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.
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.
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.
Wind Wolves Preserve is the largest non-profit preserve on the west coast at 93,000 acres. The Transverse & Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley all meet to create one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the country. Protected by the Wildlands Conservancy, the preserve is free and open to the public for all to enjoy. Visit in the Spring when the golden hills turn a brilliant green and burst with wildflowers.
Part of the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs, Andreas Canyon is the perfect natural Palm Oasis. Stunning fan palms surround rock canyons and 150 plant species along the lush Andreas Creek. One visit will give new meaning to the idea of the desert.
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is a 932 acre park outside of Santa Clarita in the Sierra Pelona Mountains. Located along the San Andreas Fault, these sandstone rocks were formed 25 million years ago. Tataviam Native Americans lived in grass hut villages here and considered the site sacred. The rocks were named for Tiburcio Vasquez, a notorious bandit who used the area as a hideout in 1874. Hollywood has filmed here since the 30's including The Flintstones, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes.
Caspers Wilderness Park is the largest and most beautiful park in Orange County with 8,000 acres of wilderness. Sandstone canyons, coast live oak trees, river valleys and wildflowers on the edge of the Santa Ana Mountains come together to create a stunning landscape. Juaneño Native Americans lived in Villages here for thousands of years and lived off the land.
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