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Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest encompasses approximately 1.75 million acres of central California's scenic Coast and Transverse Ranges.

The Los Padres National Forest stretches across almost 220 miles from north to south and consists of two separate land divisions. The northern division is within Monterey County and northern San Luis Obispo County and includes the beautiful Big Sur Coast and scenic interior areas. The "main division" of the Forest includes lands within San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern Counties.

The spectacular Big Sur Coast, an international treasure, is one of the outstanding features of Los Padres National Forest. The Forest manages, through a concessionaire, several popular recreation facilities along the coast that attract visitors year-round.

The Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway is a 38-mile segment of State Highway 33, known as the Maricopa Highway. The byway travels through some of the most picturesque and diverse terrain in southern California. Spectacular vistas greet you along the entire route, and yet you are also treated to "close encounters" with beautiful cliffs, rock formations, and lush riparian areas.

Los Padres National Forest has many trails and roads that are suitable for hikers, bicyclists and equestrian enthusiasts. Mountain bikes are allowed on most forest trails.

The Los Padres National Forest possesses many day use and overnight developed camping facilities.

Anglers will find a wide variety of fishing opportunities on the 400 miles of year-round and seasonal flowing streams and in the 37 lakes and reservoirs within or near the Forest.

There is also the opportunity to hunt on the Forest, and drive Off-Highway Vehicles in some areas.

The Los Padres National Forest is a member of the California Condor Recovery Program. And has been an active player in the reintroduction of California condors into the wild. Currently there are forty-four condors in the wild population in Los Padres National Forest. The forest manages two condor sanctuaries, the 1200-acre Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary in Santa Barbara County and the 53,000-acre Sespe Condor Sanctuary in Ventura County.

The Los Padres National Forest has 10 congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas, comprising approximately 48% of the Forest. These include the Ventana, Silver Peak, Santa Lucia, Machesna, Garcia, San Rafael, Dick Smith, Sespe, Matilija and Chumash Wildernesses.

Los Padres National Forest has prehistoric and historic Native American sites, including properties related to the practice of Indian and non-Indian religions. The Forest contains some of the most extraordinary native rock art to be found anywhere in the world. Created by the Chumash Indians, these complex and intriguing pictographs are found on numerous rock outcroppings and in caves.






Nearest Large Urban Area:

San Francisco

Notes & Conditions

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.


Visit the U.S. Forest Service Map Directory to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.