Gaviota State Park is located on U.S. 101 in southern Santa Barbara County, California, about 30 miles west of the city of Santa Barbara. This area was first named Gaviota (the Spanish word for “seagull”) by soldiers who camped here in 1769 during the Portola Expedition.
Spreading from the Pacific Coast to the Santa Ynez Mountains, Gaviota State Park is adjacent to Los Padres National Forest and offers sweeping vistas of the coast, Channel Islands and the Lompoc Valley from the summit of Gaviota Peak. Book an RV in Santa Barbara County and see for yourself why this beautiful region is a popular spot for both land and sea adventures.
You’ll want to pack everything from flip flops and hiking boots to swimsuits and surfboards in your motorhome rental because Gaviota State Park offers plenty of nature-bound activities to be experienced in nearly 3,000-acres that extend from the ocean to the mountains with an abundance of diverse habitats and wildlife to discover.
Whether you feel drawn to the coastal waters to chill on the beach or play in the waves, the park’s sandy cove is a perfect place to enjoy a seaside picnic, swim in the Pacific Ocean, or paddle out to one of the area’s well-loved surf spots. The beach is bordered by a wooden fishing pier equipped with an electric boat hoist launching facility which is also used by scuba divers and surfers launching out into the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Gaviota State Park is uniquely marked by the tall Southern Pacific railroad trestle that stretches above the day-use parking lot and crosses Gaviota Creek, which flows intermittently through a marsh behind the park campground and connects to the ocean.
Hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking enthusiasts will find Gaviota State Park has excellent trails to choose from within its boundaries or in the expanse of neighboring Los Padres National Forest; ranging from casual jaunts near the ocean to strenuous treks around oak woodlands and chaparral backcountry. A trailhead leading to the Gaviota Wind Caves is accessible right next to the State Park campground. Just a few miles away you can explore the wild and rugged upland portions of Gaviota Canyon and traverse the Tunnel View Trail, Gaviota Peak, and Gaviota Pass Overlook. Santa Barbara campers will definitely want to consider a trip to Gaviota Hot Springs, where there are several small, warm sulphur springs to soak in post-hike.
Camping at Gaviota State Park
The park includes a beach campground which accommodates RVs up to 27 feet long. You’ll be able to reserve a site online or by calling up to six months in advance, which makes it easy to plan ahead for RV camping at Gaviota State Park. Most of the campground is open so be prepared for minimal shade and privacy, however, each site is only a short distance from the scenic beach and pier as well as the hiking trails and railroad trestle, so this is a fantastic spot to camp near the ocean and other local attractions.
Be aware there are no hookups or dump stations at Gaviota State Park, but the campground does include other basic amenities like fire pits with built-in grills, picnic tables, potable water spigots, and restrooms with showers. If you need to stock up on any last minute items when you’re camping with an RV here, the small Gaviota Beach Store is conveniently located just next to the campground. For those of you traveling with a furry companion just keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on the beach or park trails and must be kept on leashes in the campground and in your vehicle during quiet hours.
Exploring the Area
When you’re ready to continue your California road trip, take some time to cruise your Santa Barbara travel trailer around the various bits of history dotted all along the coastline. Drive through the concrete Gaviota Gorge Tunnel, which was constructed in the early 1950s and features interesting architectural details like a scoring pattern imitating masonry and boldly scaled arches. A great place to pull over, stretch your legs, and take some epic selfies along the way is at the Arroyo Hondo Vista Point, which is an easy turnout on Highway 101 with seven interpretive panels on display that cover the history of the Gaviota Coast.
Of course, no Gaviota State Park RV camping trip would be complete without a visit to Santa Barbara, which is located less than an hour away from the park. There are endless amounts of cultural attractions to enjoy in this spectacular Mediterranean-like setting. When hunger strikes, choose from many delightful dining options ranging from cafes to restaurants to wineries. After you’ve had a chance to wander the eclectic shops, museums, and venues fill up your tank at a local gas station and continue your drive along the coast either north towards the metropolis of San Francisco or south towards Los Angeles. There will be many charming seaside communities to encounter along the way for you to explore.
Gaviota State Park, CA is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
There are many popular rentals in Gaviota State Park. Outdoorsy's Gaviota State Park RV rental marketplace allows renters to choose from rental options from professional RV rental agencies as well as RVs for rent by owner.