Red Rock

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Santa Barbara, CA
Red Rock
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NOTE: The road to Red Rock is currently closed (March 2017) after the storms. You must walk a long trek to get to Red Rock, navigating deep river crossings.

Red Rock is as nice as its name. Gorgeous red and golden rock surrounds you as you swim in the blue-green water. The hike in can be quite tricky, depending on how close in you park. The closer to the swimming that you park, the less creek crossings you'll do by foot, but the more you'll do by car, which can be quite hair-raising! My husband took me on one of our first dates here and dried my feet after each creek crossing. He really won me over!
Young kids can find the hike a little too exhausting on hot days, but older kids will be fine. Once at the water, find your own little nook in the rocks and set up a picnic (watch out for glass that is scattered here and there). Then swim to your heart's content, or until you're shivering so much you have to get out!
On weekdays you may have Red Rock to yourself. On weekends, there will be a yahooing party crowd jumping from the 40-foot rocks and doing all kinds of other foolhardy stunts. The earlier you go in the day, the less likely you'll share the water with loud littering creeps!
Bring a floating mattress or blowup kickboard. Floating slightly above the water on a mattress or kickboard with your back in the sun keeps you warmer. Also, you don't have to stand on slimy rocks if you have something to float on.
Watch out for poison oak- it has glossy leaves in groups of three.
If Red Rock sounds like too much work, head over to Santa Ynez River for a swim instead.

Continue to directions...

Mostly you can go to Red Rock by car, but not after rains!

Mountains views you'll enjoy as you walk along and cross a million creeks!

You can have a great swim at Red Rock!

The water beckons you to have a dip!

The end of a fine day at Red Rock.

This is one variation of what Poison Oak looks like- glossy leaves, in groups of three. If in doubt, still watch out!

The road is currently closed at the first river crossing (March 2017).

It's amazing to think that you used to be able to drive across here. March 2017- the dirt road is currently closed.

People making the long trek back from Red Rock.


From Highway 101, take the State St/Highway 154 exit and follow the signs to Highway 154. Drive up and over the mountains for 10 miles, and then turn right on Paradise Rd. After the road changes to Gibraltar Rd, take the left fork. Before it becomes a dirt road, there will be a ranger booth.
Cost to park is $10.


Click on map for interactive view


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Wed, 07 Jul 2010

you will be amazed at the rock formations and magical colours

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Wed, 04 Jul 2012

I love Red Rock it is a true paradise. I have been there every weekend this summer and its the BEST for lounging, swimming, hiking and bbq. Serene and fresh with gorgeous views.

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Wed, 03 Nov 2010

The hike in not bad at all. I can remember being six and seven years old and going out to red rock with my father and family friends. We had a blast every time that we went. Growing up in Lompoc, California it took us very little time to get to Red Rock. If you are in this area visiting Catalina island or Salvagne..make sure to make the short drive and hike to Red Rock. There are more spectacular views than pictures on this site. I intend to go back but it is quite a distance from Atlanta.

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Tue, 28 Dec 2010

When I lived in Lompoc in the 70s we would drive up there to the Red Rocks campground, leave our vehicle and hike up over the hill to 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.

PS I imagine it's crowded now but back in the day we always went skinny dipping!

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Sun, 20 Sep 2009

I have been there in July and it was very hot, but the color of the! We stopped again this month and it was beautiful though dry and more than worth the hike. I hope to do this hike many times and next time bring my swimsuit.

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Fri, 23 Oct 2009

im going next june(: loved it last year- brother goes to sbcc and he brought me

Last Updated: Tue, 20 Feb 2024 17:41:16 GMT

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