Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area:
Hidden in plain sight from Los Angeles
The Santa Monica Mountains offer easy access to surprisingly wild places. Experience the famous beaches of Malibu or explore more than 500 miles of trails. The park abounds with historical and cultural sites, from old movie ranches to Native American centers.
The landscape of the Santa Monica Mountains was not just created by geological forces, altered by weather, or covered by vegetation, but shaped by the people who lived and worked here.
People came to this area for many reasons. Initially, the Chumash and Tongva called the Santa Monica Mountains home. Then Spanish Explorers passed through these lands, followed by Rancheros and Homesteaders who worked the land they lived on. Still today, people work, travel, and recreate in the Santa Monica Mountains and call this place their home.
There are places that still remain from our past. Places we can touch and feel. Paramount Ranch, Solstice Canyon, and Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa. All places that you can visit. Places that most importantly, create an emotional and intellectual connection to our past.
As a park, we look deep into the past through archeology and historical research. Investigating what people left behind. Into their past and the collections that tell the day to day story of their lives. From photographs to letters to even the things they threw away; everything tells a part of the story we share.
NPSSanta Monica Mountains National Recreation Area strives to ensure the preservation of these collections, places, and stories of the people who impacted the landscape forever
Located adjacent to the city of Los Angeles, the second largest urban area in the United States, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area protects one of the largest and most significant examples of Mediterranean-type ecosystems in the world. The climate of the Mediterranean ecosystem, characterized by wet winters and warm, dry summers, along with the diverse topography in the Santa Monica Mountains has created a landscape filled with unique natural resources.
The Santa Monica Mountains are part of the east-west trending Transverse Ranges of Southern California. The range is geologically complex and characterized by steep, rugged mountain slopes and canyons. Elevations range from sea level to more than 3,000 feet. The Santa Monica Mountains are adjacent to 46 miles of scenic California coastline with sandy beaches and rocky tide pools and lagoons.
There is tremendous ecological diversity within the Santa Monica Mountains. The mountains are home to over 1,000 plant species making up 26 distinct natural communities, from freshwater aquatic habitats and two of the last salt marshes on the Pacific Coast, to oak woodlands, valley oak savannas, coastal sage, and chaparral. Numerous mammals are found in the Santa Monica Mountains, including bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. Nearly 400 species of birds have been observed and another 35 species of reptiles and amphibians can also be found in the mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains are home to more than 50 threatened or endangered plants and animals - among the highest concentrations of such rare species in the United States.
Places to Go
- Arroyo Sequit
- Cheeseboro and Palo Camado Canyons
- Circle X Ranch
- Franklin Canyon Park
- King Gillette Ranch
- Paramount Ranch
- Peter Strauss Ranch
- Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa
- Rocky Oaks
- Solstice Canyon
- Visitor Center (Interagency)
- Zuma and Trancas Canyons
- Malibu Creek State Park
- Leo Carrillo State Park
- Point Dume State Reserve
- Point Mugu State Park
- R. H. Meyer Memorial State Beaches
- Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
- Malibu Lagoon State Beach
- Topanga State Park
- Will Rogers State Historic Park
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority
- Corral Canyon Park
- Franklin Canyon Park
- LA River Center & Gardens
- Malibu Bluffs Open Space
- Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park
- San Vicente Mountain Park
- Temescal Gateway Park
- Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve
City of Los Angeles
- Griffith Park
- Runyon Canyon Park
- Zuma Beach County Park
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary:
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1980 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Located off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in Southern California, 350 miles south of San Francisco and 95 miles north of Los Angeles, the sanctuary encompasses approximately 1,470 square miles of ocean waters around Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara islands, extending from the mean high tide of these islands to six nautical miles offshore, and surrounding Channel Islands National Park.
The sanctuary's remote, isolated position at the confluence of two major ocean currents supports remarkable biodiversity and productivity. It's a special place for endangered species, sensitive habitats, historic shipwrecks, other maritime heritage artifacts, and living Chumash culture. Many valuable commercial and recreational activities thrive in the sanctuary, such as fishing, shipping, and tourism.
The sanctuary was federally designated because of its national significance as an area of exceptional natural beauty and resources, and due to heightened concerns following the 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel. Protection of sanctuary resources is supported through research, education, conservation, and stewardship programs. The primary goal of the sanctuary is the protection of natural and cultural resources contained within its boundaries. The sanctuary is managed to promote ecosystem conservation, protect cultural resources, and support compatible human uses.
CINMSChannel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is recognized as an ecologically significant marine ecosystem, supporting tremendous biodiversity in close proximity to highly populated Southern California. A wide range of sanctuary research and monitoring projects reflects this confluence of people and nature, as well as the diversity of science partners involved.
Visiting the Channel Islands is like traveling back into the past. Here you can discover a world protected for current and future generations to explore, learn from, and enjoy. The Channel Islands are accessible year round. Variations in weather, underwater visibility, wildlife migration and spawning cycles, as well as seasonal changes in plant life, present a variety of experiences that change constantly.
Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park encompass the ocean environment and five of the eight California Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara). The islands' remote, isolated position at the confluence of two major ocean currents creates remarkable biodiversity. The Channel Islands offer adventure and breathtaking scenery just 100 miles from Los Angeles.
The abundant natural resources of the sanctuary have attracted and supported seafaring people for thousands of years. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is rich in maritime heritage, from living Chumash culture to historic shipwreck resources. Sanctuary waters are a significant maritime trade route connecting people and communities with one another and other parts of the world.
Over the last two centuries, some 300 ships have met their fate among the rocks and reefs of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands
A Sunken Legacy Europeans sailing along the West Coast of North America began to explore the region in the 16th century. The abundant resources of both the islands and the surrounding sea attracted large-scale fishing and farming industries, while their strategic location brought a military presence that continues to this day.
Dynamic weather, strong prevailing winds, and other natural hazards made navigating the waters around the Channel Islands challenging. Between 1853 and 1980, more than 150 historic ships and aircraft are known to have wrecked within the boundaries of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park.
Historic wrecks tell us a great deal about the development of maritime trade in the region. From passenger ships carrying 49ers hoping to get rich in the California Gold Rush, to local steamers and international cargo vessels, each wreck tells another chapter in a story that continues to this day.
The island and marine ecosystems co-evolved with the Chumash and their culture. Chumash maritime culture has been and continues to be intimately shaped by that connection.
Chumash History The northern Channel Islands and the surrounding waters have a rich human history dating back more than 13,000 years. For the Chumash, or island people, who are indigenous to the region surrounding the Santa Barbara Channel, the northern Channel Islands and adjacent waters hold a value that is beyond measure. The island and marine ecosystems co-evolved with the Chumash and their culture. Chumash maritime culture has been, and continues to be, intimately shaped by that connection.
CINMSChannel Islands National Marine Sanctuary protects one of our nation's most treasured marine environments so that current and future generations can use and enjoy it. The sanctuaries work with partners and the Sanctuary Advisory Council to promote long-term conservation of sanctuary waters, wildlife, habitats, ecosystems, and maritime archaeological resources, while allowing compatible human uses.