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Santa Ynez River

Santa Barbara, CA
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Santa Ynez River, Santa Barbara California

Description

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, before 11am.
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.
Other places to explore on Highway 154 are: Red Rock, which is currently (March 2017) a long trek because the road is closed; 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.

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Photo Gallery

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Deer at Santa Ynez River. Look at those big ears!
Deer at Santa Ynez River. Look at those big ears!
A deer runs by at Santa Ynez River, near the parking lot.
A deer runs by at Santa Ynez River, near the parking lot.
Looking down the Santa Ynez River.
Looking down the Santa Ynez River.
Santa Ynez River, at wintertime. Kids will be entertained as they make a pile of their favorite rocks.
Santa Ynez River, at wintertime. Kids will be entertained as they make a pile of their favorite rocks.
Skimming rocks on the surface of Santa Ynez River during the winter, when it was a bit mossy-looking.
Skimming rocks on the surface of Santa Ynez River during the winter, when it was a bit mossy-looking.
Flowers on the mountain, in March.
Flowers on the mountain, in March.
The river looks kind of weird since the drought.
The river looks kind of weird since the drought.
This is the nicest spot to have a swim.
This is the nicest spot to have a swim.
A family plays in the river.
A family plays in the river.
Burnt trees and flowers.
Burnt trees and flowers.
A young woman steps gingerly into the freezing cold water.
A young woman steps gingerly into the freezing cold water.
Little rapids!
Little rapids!

Directions

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. Walk the dirt path along the river until you find a nice spot to sit!
Parking costs $10.

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

Visitor Ratings

Overall Visitor Rating:


Hoz
12/27/2010 20:05
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.

Claudia
08/19/2010 09:42
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.

jill
07/21/2010 13:10
almost as beautiful as the coast......great photo..

Ann
10/22/2009 19:31
Just went camping last week..had a blast!! Already planning my next trip.

Rod
09/19/2009 20:54
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.

Katherine
09/02/2009 21:25
Many thanks for this information.

Last Updated Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:34:37 GMT