Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
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Introduction

Ready to head out on your next California adventure? Consider a visit to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It's the perfect spot for an outdoor vacation.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is located just outside the metropolitan city of Los Angeles, CA. It forms an easy pathway to such popular attractions as the well-renowned beaches of Malibu, old ranches prominently featured in former movie shoots, and centers for Native American artifacts and history. This park sits in the second largest metropolitan region in the state and is home to many different parks and camping facilities. Some of the most beloved places found within this recreational area include Griffith Park, the National Forest, and Whitestone National Park.

In 2018, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was devastated by what is now known as the Woolsey Fire. The blaze earned the distinction of being three times the size of the largest fire in the region in recorded history, ravaging up to 40 percent of the area. Today, the property is rebounding from the damage, but several sections of the park remain closed.

There are many recreational opportunities for families to enjoy at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Among its most popular outdoor activities are hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, climbing, and the viewing of wildflowers. Open year-round for exploration and tent camping, this park is a haven for those on the hunt for a place to enjoy some R&R in a beautiful setting.

If you've got adventure on your mind, pack your bags and head out to visit Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. You'll have an amazing time.

Park Alerts (1)

[Park Closure] Most NPS trails & parks are open, a few remain closed due to Woolsey Fire damage [+ Info]

NPS trails and parks are open except for Peter Strauss Ranch, Rocky Oaks, and Arroyo Sequit. For more info, please click "more" below & visit the Woolsey Fire webpage.

RV Rentals in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Transportation in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Driving

The trip to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area from Malibu, CA encompasses 10 miles of ground. To begin the route, make a right hand turn onto CA-1 S. Turn right again onto Kanan Dume Road. At the sign for Latigo Canyon Rd, bear right again. Take another right onto Upper Ramirez Mtwy. You will spot the park on the right hand side of the road. The journey to the park travels along two lane highways kept in good condition which occasionally have restrictions on them. Detours are well-marked, but do allow additional time to avoid a late arrival.

Parking

Parking is available via a lot at the entrance to the park as well as within the other national parks and preserves found within the property.

Public Transport

There is no public transportation available to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Campgrounds and parking in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Campsites in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Circle X Ranch Group Campground

Circle X Ranch Group Campground is a camping facility found within Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and is open year-round for tent camping. RV's are not permitted here. Reservations are recommended, and sites are limited to groups of 10 people or more.

The campsite can accommodate between 10-75 people in total. The on-site amenities include drinking water from a pump and pit toilets.

Dogs are permitted to join their families but must remain leashed.

Seasonal activities in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Spring

Horseback Riding

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is full of diverse terrain that is home to a vast network of trail systems that are perfect for doing some horseback riding. Grab a trail map from the visitor's center and chart your course for a relaxing day out in the back country.

This region is so beautiful that you will want to stop often to capture the breathtaking views from the heights of the mountains and the stunning glimpses you get from the depths of the valleys.

Summer

Malibu Bbeach Adventure

With Malibu beaches only 10 miles away, it is only a short drive for families to enjoy some sand and surf in one of California's most beloved seaside havens. You will be spoiled for choice with beaches to select from; many of which offer regular lifeguard service and concession stands along the shore.

Bring along your surfboard to catch a wave or recline along the shore to work on your suntan while devouring the latest bestseller.

Many beaches do allow dogs to join their owners on their adventures on land and sea but require that they remain leashed. To ensure you are abiding by all by-laws, it is best to check the regulations of the particular beach you are hoping to visit.

Picnicking

There is no shortage of great places to enjoy a picnic lunch in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. You can choose from any number of national parks or natural preserves throughout the space, take a seat at one of the picnic tables, or even just spread out your feast on a picnic blanket in the grass.

You will find the property offers picture-perfect views, so bring along your camera to capture some of the beauty that surrounds you.

You will want to bring drinking water and a packed lunch to share. Don't forget to bring bug spray and to keep an eye out for ticks, rattlesnakes, poison oak, and bees.

Fall

Hiking

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a haven of trail networks for families to enjoy. Put on your most comfortable hiking shoes and grab a big bottle of water and head out with your trail map in search of adventure. With over 156,671 acres of property to explore, you won't want for trails to inspire you. There is something suited to the activity level and age of every member of the family.

One of the most popular paths is known as Backbone Trail, and it is a spot avid hikers won't want to miss.

The terrain is quite varied throughout this park, so exercise caution in selecting the right trail to ensure you remain injury-free.

Mountain Biking

The same paths enjoyed by hikers are also a great place to do some mountain biking. Since many of the trails wind through extremely steep inclines, you will want to be certain you've had a good breakfast and that you carry drinks and snacks with you to keep your energy at an all-time high.

Along your travels, you may run across such things as bees, rattlesnakes, and poison oak, so exercise caution to avoid becoming injured.

Be sure to bring along a helmet as well to protect your head from any debris that may fall from higher elevations.

Winter

Mountain Climbing

The mountain climbing at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is absolutely sublime. Unless you are an experienced climber, you may want to inquire at the visitor's center about hiring a guide to assist you for the day.

Be sure you have all of the appropriate safety gear with you and only attempt a climb in an area where it is well marked as safe for this sort of activity.

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