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First Crossing Picnic Area, SY River

Santa Barbara, California, United States


First Crossing Picnic Area is a rugged, grassy area below impressive cliffs, on the Santa Ynez river. It's not the best place to access the river- the Whiterock Picnic Area is better- but it is a great place to BBQ. There are thirteen large BBQ areas. There is plenty of room for kids to roam and explore.
The name is accurate, as it is on the road to Red Rock, where the first river crossing occurs. If the water is not too high, you can drive across. If not, you must make a long trek on foot to Red Rock. Right now, March 2017, the road is completely closed after the huge storm. In fact, the crossing area is full of water and boulders. It is amazing to see it and realize that it had previously been a road!
There are restrooms at the picnic area.

Photo Gallery

The impressive mountains.

A trail through the long grass.

Flowers on the cliff, in March.

Playing at the river.

Flowers by a boulder.

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

Can you believe you used to drive right through this?

People walking through the water where you used to be able to drive.


This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

First Crossing Picnic Area is part of the Los Padres National Forest. It is on Paradise Road, off Highway 154, directly before the first river crossing. Here the road is sometimes closed and so it is the dead end during those times.
Cost to park is $10.
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 about 5-6 miles. You will pass Los Pietros Boys Camp on your right. Very soon after that you will come to "First Crossing Day Use Area" on your left. Turn in and park.
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