Santa Lucia Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

If you've got adventure on your mind, why not plan a trip to California's Santa Lucia Wilderness? It's an amazing place to visit during your next RV getaway.

Santa Lucia Wilderness, a Bureau of Land Management property, sits outside the small city of Arroyo Grande in California. The region was declared a national wilderness in 1978 and is comprised of 18,679 acres of land in total.

Santa Lucia Wilderness is a landlocked property. The landscape is dotted with diverse and rough terrain including awe-inspiring mountain peaks, rich stream-laden valleys, picturesque waterfalls, and lush and abundant plant life. The property offers breathtaking views of such nearby geographical features as Morro Rock and the Seven Sisters hills located in nearby San Luis Obispo.

Santa Lucia Wilderness is a treasure trove of hiking trails that are perfect for families to explore. Most of the trailheads house parking lots at their entrances where visitors can safely leave their vehicles while out on a hike. There are also many different campgrounds found throughout the grounds; many of which offer RV camping. Primitive style camping is also available here for those who enjoy a more rustic outdoor adventure. An Adventure Pass is required for all overnight stays.

This scenic wilderness property sits within the Los Padres National Forest between two beautiful lakes known as Santa Margarita Lake and Lake Lopez. This recreational area sees little traffic year-round due to its secluded locale, providing families with the rare treat of their own private slice of paradise to enjoy.

For a wonderful vacation that'll leave you longing to return again and again, consider a trip to the BLM-managed recreational area known as Santa Lucia Wilderness. You'll have a fantastic RV holiday!

RV Rentals in Santa Lucia Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

Travel to Santa Lucia Wilderness proceeds along a two-lane, paved highway. The route cuts through an area of dense woods and is quite picturesque. The road is in excellent condition and is only lightly trafficked year-round.

To reach the wilderness grounds, it is necessary to park all vehicles and travel the remainder of the distance into the heart of the property on foot. There are several different trailheads that can be found directly off the main highway. Each offers its own parking lot which is free for the public to use.

On occasion, wildlife will make its way onto the road. Motorists are reminded to remain alert and to drive with caution.

Parking

Parking can be found in established lots outside most of the trailheads just off the highway. Two of the most popular ones include the Big Falls Trail and the Little Falls Trail.

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation available to Santa Lucia Wilderness due to its remote location.

Campgrounds and parking in Santa Lucia Wilderness

Campsites in Santa Lucia Wilderness

Reservations camping

Figueroa Campground

Figueroa Campground offers 35 campsites for RV and tent campers to enjoy year-round. Reservations are required.

Each of the sites at this picturesque camping facility is complete with a fire ring, a barbecue, and a picnic table. The on-site amenities include bathrooms.

This property is able to house trailers up to 25 feet in length. No power hookups are available. Three dumpsters for trash are located on the premises, but there is no on-site waste disposal station.

Figueroa Campground is an easy locale from which to visit some of the most popular trails in the region.

It is important to note that drinking water is not available at this campground. RV and tent campers must bring bottled water with them from home for all of their camping needs. 

Cerro Alto Campground

Cerro Alto Campground is located in an interesting spot at 1,000 feet above sea level. Nestled within a canyon next to stunning creek, Cerro Alto campground is a popular place for RV and tent campers that enjoy such activities as hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

There are 22 campsites available for reservation. 12 of the sites are wheelchair accessible. Each of the sites is complete with a fire pit and picnic table. Some are also furnished with small barbecues.

This popular campground is found at the bottom of Cerro Alto Peak.

The on-site amenities include both toilets and drinking water. Some of the campsites are large enough for two vehicles to park there. There are no power hookups available at this campground.

First-come first-served

American Canyon Seasonal Campground

American Canyon Seasonal Campground is found on the same premises as Santa Lucia Wilderness within Los Padres National Forest. Currently, this camping facility is only open during deer season which spans from August 11th through September 23rd.

Reservations are not required for RV or tent camping at this popular camping facility. However, an Adventure Pass must be obtained for all overnight stays.
The only on-site amenity provided at American Canyon Seasonal Campground is a vault toilet for the public to use.

Since potable water is not available here, families are advised to bring bottled water with them for bathing, cooking, and drinking.

Seasonal activities in Santa Lucia Wilderness

In-Season

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

For families looking for a recreational area that's got something for everyone to enjoy, a trip to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is in order. One of the few area attractions which permits off-road vehicles, Oceano Dunes is a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Among the most popular activities found here include swimming, hiking, surfing, wildlife viewing, and fishing. Camping is also permitted on the grounds.

A separate area of this public park is reserved for off-road use.

The property also houses a sand beach where families can enjoy some fun in the sun. Bring along a camera on this excursion as the area is quite picturesque.

Pismo State Beach

Pismo State Beach offers some of the finest RV camping and recreational activities in the region. A property that can house trailers up to 31 feet and RVs a maximum length of 36 feet, this outdoor haven is a wonderful spot for those looking to camp in an area with lots of outdoor fun to offer.

This stunning beach property rests along California's Central Coast. Its moderate climate makes it an ideal spot to visit any time of the year.

The most popular attractions at Pismo State Beach include hiking, surfing, camping, swimming, bird watching, and fishing. There are many walking trails that meander through scenic terrain, making them a great spot to snap some photos while getting in a good workout.

Other on-site amenities include a lagoon, a visitors center, and a wooden boardwalk that leads through an area of rich sand dunes.

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes stretch for 18 miles. Situated along the coast of California, the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center spans the distance from Pismo State Beach to Point Sal. An area that regularly experiences high winds, this stunning recreational area boasts of dunes that reach as high as 500 feet in total.

The lake waters are an intense shade of blue, an incredible sight to behold against the backdrop of the pale white shoreline. Families visit to enjoy such popular activities as beachcombing, hiking, or swimming, but the fishing is also excellent here.

This property also has a connection with Hollywood. The region was used as a set for the iconic film The Ten Commandments.

Off-Season

Swinging Bridge

An interesting piece of local culture, Arroyo Grande's swinging bridge is well worth a visit during a trip to Santa Lucia Wilderness. The bridge was first built in 1875 by a local family whose property was cut in two by the Arroyo Grande Creek which traversed the grounds.

This unique bridge is 171 feet and stands 40 feet above the ground. There is no other bridge remotely similar to it throughout the entire state.

Unfortunately, the bridge fell into disrepair in 1995 when a tree fell on it. The community rallied together for its repair, and it was restored to use later that year.

Fishing at Lopez Lake

For those who enjoy fishing, a trip to Lopez Lake will not disappoint. The waters teem with varieties of fish such as crappie, red-ear sunfish, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. During the cooler times of the season, rainbow trout are also found in the area.

One of the most popular attractions for anglers is the abundance of catfish which are typically caught early in the morning and late in the evening year-round.

In addition to the property's bountiful fishing opportunities, the landscape is quite beautiful here. From stunning coves to crystal clear water as warm as any bath, Lopez Lake is a great place to enjoy such activities as canoeing and windsurfing.

The on-site amenities found as this beach haven include a marina, a boat ramp, a convenience store, and a tackle shop. Boat rentals are also found on the premises.

Barn Museum

The Barn Museum is an interesting spot to stop for an afternoon when enjoying a vacation in the Santa Lucia Wilderness. The Barn Museum sits just outside the famed Santa Manuela Schoolhouse and is easy to identify from its locale behind the Heritage House, another popular museum paying homage to local culture.

The Barn Museum houses such interesting artifacts as historical clothing, photographs, household items, and other pieces of memorabilia.

While visiting the property, it is also worthwhile to take the time to explore Heritage House, a property that was once a historical residence.