For thousands of years, people have cherished the Malibu Creek State Park. The Chumash people, who lived in coastal SoCal for millennia, built the village of Talepop here. That village may have been the area’s first permanent settlement. Later, movie studios, most notably 20th Century Fox, used the area as a back lot. Filmmakers shot almost all of the original Planet of the Apes in Malibu Creek State Park. The former M*A*S*H set is a popular site as well. A few years later, the late great Bob Hope donated many of the Park’s lands to the state.
Today, Malibu Creek State Park preserves the scenic Malibu Creek Canyon. Some people call this Park “the Yosemite of Southern California,” but that moniker may be a bit overclaimed. This year-round stream is home to several species of endangered animals. The Park is also part of the larger Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Malibu Creek State Park begins just under Lake Malibu and extends to the Pacific coast. The Park contains three nature preserves. Most of the 300,000 annual visitors enjoy hiking, fishing, picnicking, birding, and other outdoor activities. Self-guided and ranger-led excursions are also available.
Whatever your outdoor favorites, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Malibu Creek State Park. Visit with your RV and be free to explore it all.
RV Rentals in Malibu Creek State Park
Transportation in Malibu Creek State Park
It is hard to believe that Malibu Creek State Park is less than 30 miles away from downtown Los Angeles. Simply take the Ventura Freeway (Highway 101) west past Vista Point and Calabasas. Then, just before Agoura Hills, turn south on Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road. From LAX and Santa Monica, take the Pacific Coast Highway north. Just before Pepperdine University, turn onto the N1/Malibu Canyon Road. For a GPS address, use 1900 Las Virgenes Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301.
The Mulholland Highway winds through much of the Park, so there is considerable parking. RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long are allowed in the Park. One day fee guarantees access to all California state parks and beaches.
Campgrounds and parking in Malibu Creek State Park
Campsites in Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Creek State Park Campground
This 63-site campground includes showers and restrooms. The campsite is a little rough and a bit pricey. It’s also very close to hiking trails and the major Park sites. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a quite lovely and quite unexpected oasis. Group camping is also available, and many of the sites are wheelchair-accessible. RVs up to 30’ are welcome, generators are allowed during certain hours, and a dump station is available.
Malibu Creek State Park Campground
The main campground is designated as reservations-only, but many state parks in the California system still set aside FCFS or allow walk-ups if capacity permits. If you didn’t make a reservation, be sure to call ahead to see if spots are available.
If you don’t manage to get a spot for your RV inside the park, there are several other options in the area. Some are a little on the expensive side, but then again, so is just about everything else on the SoCal coastline. Besides amazing views, amenities range from full hookups to laundry facilities and WiFi.
Seasonal activities in Malibu Creek State Park
For a behind-the-scenes look at how California State Parks really work, take a little time out and stop by this office. After they see all the work that goes into park preservation, most people enjoy the sites and sounds of places like Malibu Creek State Park even more.
King Gillette Ranch
One of the most successful ranches in the area was located near the junction of the region’s five major streams. Large mammals and birds often move through this area, which is the home of smaller wildlife and abundant plant life. A restored Spanish Colonial-style mansion serves as the Ranch’s centerpiece. There’s a short and steep trail that branches off from the main house and leads to a 360-degree knoll. There, visitors can see most of the Park, including its rare rock formations.
Mesa Peak Hiking Trail
No, that’s not a misprint. There really is such a thing as a “mesa peak.” The relatively flat summit offers many viewing opportunities, especially since Mesa Peak is just north of Pepperdine University. The hike up Backbone Trail is quite steep, but not all that difficult. The Piuma Trailhead, where the path begins, has parking and bathroom facilities. Mountain bikes are welcome on this hiking trail as well as people.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan owned this ranch between 1957 and 1967. It was one of the first publicly-accessible equestrian parks in SoCal, and the Ranch has some 700 miles of horseback trails. The original stables and barn still serve as Ranch headquarters. Located on a rolling meadow, there is plenty of room for private equestrian trailers as well.
Some visitors come to Paramount Ranch to see Western Town. Beginning with Bob Hope’s Caught in the Draft (1941), moviemakers have shot miles of footage from this spot. Hollywood history is still made here, despite the end of the studio system and a tragic car crash in the 1950s. Other visitors come for the natural beauty. A number of hiking trails crisscross this area. Keep an eye out for rare Valley Oak and Coast Live Oak trees.
One of the most famous hiking trails in Malibu Creek State Park extends almost to the top of the privately-owned Castro Peak. The higher the trail gets, the better the ocean views become. Winter is a good time to hike here, because distant snow-capped mountains are clearly visible.
Corral Canyon Cave
Supposedly, Jim Morrison came here to write songs in seclusion. As the rumor began to spread, graffiti increased and the rangers closed the cave. However, hikers can still pass through this area and the Cave should be re-opened soon. It’s easy to see why the songwriting story got started. Corral Canyon is one of the most tranquil areas of a very tranquil park.
If fishing, eating, shopping, or people watching tickles your fancy, check out the largest pier on Malibu Beach. While you are there relaxing, there is a pretty good chance that you’ll see a few dolphins.
The onetime Vaquero Hill is sometimes called the “Taj Mahal of Tile.” In the 1920s, over 100 craftsmen created the decorative tiles that are throughout the house. You haven’t seen anything until you have seen a Persian rug made from decorative tile. Other tile highlights include several fountains and a dog bathtub. A bit of SoCal trivia: Before he became a successful lawyer, Merritt Adamson was captain of the 1912 USC football team. That was the first club known as the Trojans.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Surfrider Beach is not technically in Malibu Creek State Park. But as mentioned, one parking fee gives visitors access to all state parks and protected beaches for the entire day. As for surfing, there are several different swells for several different skill levels. The surf is usually a little higher in winter. From the beach, visitors also have nice views of the surrounding mountains. That position makes Malibu Lagoon State Beach a good place for birding, especially during migratory seasons.