Gaviota State Park welcomes visitors to swim, hike, and gather geological knowledge before retiring to their campsite near the ocean’s edge. This park is the place to be for young scientists and geology lovers. Adventure seekers will appreciate the ocean’s capacity for water fun. Combine your love for nature and fun at Gaviota!
The Santa Ynez Fault offers its contribution to the park through a warm sulfur spring that bubbles up for hikers to enjoy. Gaviota Peak and the canyon bluffs provide a visual incentive for hikers. Gaviota Canyon will give pause to any observer who wishes to take in its views.
Views of the ocean provide a scenic and ever-changing environment to enjoy. Campers will also love how close they can stay to surrounding points of interest just outside the bounds of the park. Be ready for the sunshine and waves when you visit Gaviota State Park!
RV Rentals in Gaviota State Park
Transportation in Gaviota State Park
Gaviota State Park is located 33 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, California. Entrance to the park may be gained via U.S. Highway 101, which travels through the central region of the park. Highway 101 through the park on the northbound side takes travelers through the Gaviota Gorge Tunnel (vehicle height restrictions: 14ft 9in).
Travelers may want to note that viewing the park’s location on a map will appear to be more west of Santa Barbara than north by cardinal directions. If you are looking at a map, Gaviota will be about 30 miles southeast of Lompoc via Highway CA-1S that connects with Highway 101.
Stay alert: Due to the unique geologic features at Gaviota, rockslides may occur at any time in the park. Alternate routes may be posted in the event of a rockslide. Entry payment proof is to be placed in the lower left corner of your windshield.
Vehicles are required to stay on paved roads in all areas of the park. Parking lots and trailheads are easily accessible in several places along 101 throughout Gaviota. Remember that cyclists may be present on the road.
Campgrounds and parking in Gaviota State Park
Campsites in Gaviota State Park
Gaviota State Park Campground
Visitors to Gaviota State Park and campground have an opportunity to enjoy views of a Southern Pacific Railroad trestle overhead as they explore the creek. The biggest advantage to this campground is its proximity to Gaviota Beach. Forget something at the campground? Not to worry—it’s only steps away from your spot on the beach!
Online camping reservations may be made six months in advance online or by phone. Eight people are allowed per campsite. Two vehicles are permitted per campsite. A trailer is counted as one vehicle. All tires must stay on paved sections. Larger RV and trailer setups may find Gaviota a bit more difficult for navigating and parking.
A fire ring and picnic table are available at each campsite. Sound producing devices are not permitted to be heard outside of your own campsite at any time. Note that some games (volleyball, badminton, etc.) are not allowed on the beach or at the campground.
The camp store is open at different hours during the year. Year-round campsites El Capitán State Beach Campground and Refugio State Beach Campground are also located nearby if the Gaviota campground will be closed during your stay. Note that RV and trailer campers will need to be prepared to remain self-contained during their time at the Gaviota State Park Campground.
Seasonal activities in Gaviota State Park
Beach Walking and Exploring
Looking for a place to relax and watch the ocean through its movements? Gaviota offers a unique view of how the ocean interacts with land at different times of the day. At low tide, the sands can be explored for treasures. At high tide, the water’s edge reaches up as if it is trying to kiss the surrounding bluffs. Rise from your campsite to see where the water is early in the day. Stay all day or return in the evening to see how the ocean has moved its edge during the day. Remember to check what time the tides will change during the time you wish to make your observations.
Be mindful of swimmers and other water participants while fishing. Fishing at Gaviota means that your feet will be able to experience the surf as you cast your line. Enjoy the sand in your toes and see what you can reel in at Gaviota! As you fish, you will be able to look out across the expanse of the waters of the Pacific Ocean and take in the beauty of the skyline. A California State Fishing license is required within the bounds of the park.
Scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming are all great water activities for Gaviota visitors. While the beach area can be windy, the sand and water’s edge provide a natural playground. Curious minds are easily drawn to peek under the surface of the water at Gaviota. Come and see what you find! One benefit that beach lovers appreciate about this beach is its proximity to the campsite. Remember to consider how the tides may affect your water time.
Biking and Mountain Biking
The trails of Gaviota offer mountain bikers an excellent playground! Park in one of the day-use parking lots and hop on your new favorite trail or ride from the campground. Remember to use proper signaling and safe riding practices at all times. Hikers may also be present on the trails. Be sure to alert other individuals on the trails as you approach from either direction. Riders must stay on designated trails (paved and dirt) at all times.
The trail to Gaviota Peak offers views of the Channel Islands and the coast for hikers who are ready for a bit of a challenge. While dogs are allowed in the park, they are not permitted on the trails. Gaviota Hot Springs is located just a .7 mile distance from the trail parking lot. Hikers can enjoy the Wind Caves Trail (also known as the Beach to Backcountry Trail) from the campsite area for a unique view of how wind changes rock formations.
Gaviota is the place to be for geology lovers and anyone who enjoys viewing the natural wonders of where the ocean and land meet. Bring your curious side and see what bits of nature you find along the water’s edge. Preserved fossils and bluff formations fill the vision of those who tread here! The Monterey Formation and its surrounding natural geologic features have brought scientists to search for the sources of oil in this area.