Santa Ynez River
||Santa Barbara, CA|
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Sometimes you forget what silence sounds like. But if you leave the city and drive out to the Santa Ynez River, you will be awed by how you can literally hear NOTHING except the faint babble of water as it trickles over rocks. With a sigh of relief, you realize how silence is good for the soul!
Bring lilos (this is the aussie word for blowup mattresses) and have fun bobbing around on the water. It's nice to swim on a floating kickboard here because it keeps your feet off the rocks and keeps you out of the water a little so the sun can warm you. Swims in Santa Ynez river can be "refreshing," that's for sure! But even when numb and shivering, we love it! Swim across to the tiny island, find a perfect smooth pebble, and skid it across the water.
The last time we arrived at the river, we saw deer running in the pale green woods. It was such a treat!
Some weekends or summer days it can be crowded here- once we were even turned away by rangers because the area was filled to capacity. Most of the year, though, you will have the river all to yourself, especially if you come early.
The drive to the Santa Ynez river from Santa Barbara is part of the joy of going. It's a stunning drive through the Los Padres forest with views over Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.
You will need an Adventure Pass in order to park at Santa Ynez River because you're in the Los Padres forest (see info below).
If you're hungry, also on Paradise Rd is Paradise Store & Grill, where you can enjoy a tri-tip sandwich and beer on their huge sunny balcony overlooking the forest while live music wafts through the air.
Other places to explore on Highway 154 are: Lake Cachuma, a peaceful lake with grassy picnic areas and a nice playground; Playgrounds, a hiking and rock-climbing spot up in the mountains with huge boulders and panoramic views of Santa Barbara; and Lizard's Mouth, a short hike to little caves overlooking a gorgeous view of Santa Barbara and Goleta- this is a fun place for older kids because there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
From Highway 101 exit at State St/Highway 154 and follow the signs to Highway 154. Head up and over the mountains on Highway 154 for ten miles. After the huge bridge, turn right on Paradise Rd. Follow Paradise Road for 3.3 miles. You will pass "Paradise Campground" on your right. Very soon after that you will come to "Los Padres National Forest Day Use: White Rock" on your left. Turn in and park. Display your Adventure Pass (see below). Walk the dirt path along the river until you find a nice spot to sit!
You will need an Adventure Pass in order to park in the Los Padres forest. It costs $5 a day or $30 a year. You can buy it before you head up Highway 154 at Big 5 Sports (see directions below). Or you can usually buy it from a ranger at the "Day Use: White Rock" area. Seniors over 62 can get a lifetime pass for only $10 at a Forest Service office. Call (805) 967-3481.
Big 5 Sporting Goods, 3935 State St (5 Points Shopping Center), Santa Barbara CA 93105, call (805) 964-4749.
Directions to Big 5 Sporting Goods: From Highway 101 southbound exit at La Cumbre Rd and turn left on La Cumbre Rd. Turn left into 5 Points Shopping Center. From Highway 101 northbound exit at La Cumbre Rd. Turn left at the exit and then right on La Cumbre Rd. Turn left into 5 Points Shopping Center.
From 5 Points Shopping Center, to get to Highway 154, turn left on Hollister Ave and get in the far right lane. Follow the signs to Highway 154.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|When I lived in Lompoc in the 70\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s we would drive up there to the \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Red Rocks\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" campground, leave our vehicle and hike up the Santa Ynez River to camp. Lots of pools, fish and quiet spots for a peaceful week or weekend. I\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'m across the country now but your story and picture reminded me of the happy times we had there.|
|We have been camping at Paradise campgroung and it is so peaceful and quiet. We camped in July last year and we had swimming holes are to ourselves and the White Rock day use area was awesome. It was so much fun. The water was perfect temp and nice and relaxing. Water shoes are must and lots of bug repellant and sunblock. Campsites at Paradise are spacious and have plenty of shade. Over all a very nice family camping experience.|
|almost as beautiful as the coast......great photo..|
|Just went camping last week..had a blast!! Already planning my next trip.|
|Good way to spend a few hours. peaceful and relaxing. The views are ok. Weekends can be a bit crowded. During midday, the sun can be burning and there is not a lot of shade. Make sure to use sunblock or bring a cap. Good day with the family.|
|Many thanks for this information.|