Pack the tent and your flip-flops when you visit the campground at Gaviota State Park. Each site is ambling distance from a sandy beach along the scenic coast west of Santa Barbara. A railroad trestle, pier, and hiking trails are close to the campground, which is just off Highway 101, making it a convenient place to camp near the ocean.
Gaviota State Park is about 30 miles west of Santa Barbara in the area around the Gaviota Tunnel. The park’s campground has 39 sites that can be reserved in advance for $45 per night. Make reservations online or by calling (805) 968-1033.
The campground is on level ground along a single loop. Sites have places to set up tents and can accommodate trailers up to 25 feet long and RVs up to 27 feet long. Small trees around the campground provide some privacy and shade, but most of the campground is open.
While this campground stays busy in the summer, in the off-peak season, between October 1 and March 31, it is only open from Friday through Sunday and is closed during the week. Nearby El Capitán State Beach Campground and Refugio State Beach Campground should be considered if Gaviota State Park Campground is closed.
Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring with a built-in grill (campfires may be prohibited during high winds). Potable water spigots are spread throughout the campground. Showers and flush toilets are available. A small convenience store called Gaviota Beach Store is located next to the campground in case you need to pick up a few things.
Gaviota Creek flows through a marsh behind the campground where you may see ducks, herons, and other animals. Beyond that, ridges in the Santa Lucia Mountains are composted of sandstone cliffs and chaparral-covered slopes. In the other direction, a tall railroad trestle spans the bottom of the canyon between the campground and the beach. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner crosses the bridge throughout the day.
Walk under the trestle and you’ll have more to see. Bearing to the right beyond the trestle, you can walk up to a wooden pier. Until recently, the pier was open to the public and could be used for fishing. The pier is now fenced-off due to stability issue. To the left, the pier is bordered by a sandy beach. The beach is open for day-use and campers can definitely partake. Play in the waves or stroll down the sand.
Gaviota State Park has much to offer for hikers as well. Right next to the campground, you’ll find a trail to the Gaviota Wind Caves. Hikes to Gaviota Peak, Gaviota Pass Overlook, Gaviota Hot Springs, and Tunnel View Trail are all just a few miles away.
Each site at Gaviota State Park Campground can accommodate up to eight people. One or two vehicles can park at each campsite and additional parking is next to the campground. Check-out time is noon and check-in time is 2 p.m. Dogs must be on leashes in the campground and are not allowed at the beach or on park trails. During quiet hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), dogs must be kept inside tents and vehicles.
To get to the campground: From Santa Barbara, travel west for 30 miles on Highway 101. Take the Gaviota Beach Road Exit (sign reads Gaviota State Beach), which is just before the rest area and the Gaviota Tunnel en route to Los Olivos. Drive down Gaviota Beach Road and bear left into the park entrance.
Campground address: 17620 Gaviota Beach Road, Gaviota, CA 93117
Campground coordinates: 34.4731, -120.22945 (34° 28′ 23.16″N 120° 13′ 46.01″W)
Use the map below to view the campground and get directions:
|Gaviota Wind Caves
This 2.5-mile hike just off Highway 101 visits wind-carved caves in Gaviota State Park with great ocean views.
This 6.5-mile loop mounts a 2,458-foot summit two miles from the Pacific and then descends Trespass Trail to explore the wilds of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
|Gaviota Hot Springs
This short hike visits a warm hot springs along the trail to Gaviota Peak in Gaviota State Park.
|Tunnel View and Trespass Trails Loop
This 2.6-mile loop steals a view over Highway 101 and the Gaviota Tunnel.
|Gaviota Pass Overlook Loop
This 6.5-mile loop tours scenic ridges in Gaviota State Park to arrive at a soaring overlook above the Gaviota Tunnel.
|Nature Trail in El Capitán State Beach
This 0.35-mile hike loops through a lush sycamore grove bordering El Capitán Creek to approach the rocky shore at the end of El Capitán Point.
|More Central Coast Hikes
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey.
|Refugio State Beach Campground
This 67-site campground is a great oceanfront camping destination along the coast west of Santa Barbara, just three miles from El Capitán State Beach.
|El Capitán State Beach
This 132-site campground offers oceanfront camping along the coast west of Santa Barbara, just three miles from Refugio State Beach.