||Santa Barbara, CA|
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The ravishing views from Gibraltar Road make for a euphoric drive. Green, sunny valleys. Rugged mountains littered with sandstone outcroppings. Cactus and flowers with a backdrop of the blue sea. And always the sun drenching it all in color.
On your way up the mountain you will pass a spot where hanggliders take off and it's fun to watch them dive out into the sky.
The best time to make the drive is on the once-a-year day that there is snow seen on the mountains above Santa Barbara. This is the road that will take you to that snow! (It took me ten years to discover this). Once you reach the top, there is a large area where you can park and join the other eager snow-ball-throwers. People walk a very steep, slippery hill to a spot with awesome 360 degree views of valleys, mountains, and beaches. The coolest sight is the snow-covered plants with the ocean and chain of sandy beaches behind!
It's fun to make a snowman on your car before you leave and then drive around town until he melts.
We found this road when we were on our way to a hike at Sheffield Reservoir one February day. We saw a car with a snowman on its roof drive by! My daughter had never seen snow before and longed to see it. We turned up the road where the car had come down and made our way uphill. It was a surprise snow day!
Even though it's quite a winding road, kids behave on this drive because there's so much to see. To get to the snow, it takes less than an hour.
Afterward, have a warm drink at Loreto Plaza.
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This area is located at Gibraltar Rd and East Camino Cielo, Santa Barbara CA 93105.
From Highway 101, exit at Las Positas Rd and head toward the mountains (north). Drive about 1.5 miles and then turn right on Foothill Rd. Drive 2 miles and then turn left on Mountain Dr (you will see the large, white Sheffield Reservoir on the corner). Be careful to stay on Mountain Dr and not end up on Las Canoas Rd. Turn onto Gibraltar Rd and head up the mountain. After 6.5 winding miles, turn right on Camino Cielo. After a short while you will see a large area on the left where many cars are parked and people are up on a hill playing in the snow!
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.