Wheeler Gorge offers a campground and a nature trail. If you are planning an overnight visit to the Los Padres near Ojai, keep Wheeler Gorge campground as an option. When the free campgrounds fill up with weekend fishermen, Wheeler Gorge is an attractive if costly alternative. Sites go for $20 a night (and $5 for additional vehicles). On busy weekends, a two night minimum may be in place.
The campground rests along the banks of a flowing creek, making the grounds lush and relatively private. Pick your spot among the 70 nicely-spaced sites. Watch out for the poison oak when deciding where to place your tent.
right next to the campground is a trailhead for a short hike. This brief loop is 0.7 miles long, but offers respectable views of the surrounding mountains. The trail frolics along Matilija Creek before rising up on to a hill for a good look around.
The campground is located right along Route 33, so even if you are only driving past, the short nature trail may be worth stopping for.
To get to Wheeler Gorge: Take the 101 north through Ventura and exit onto Highway 33. Take the 33 through Ojai and into the Los Padres National Forest. It is approximately 8.5 miles from the city to the campground, which will be on the left.
Campground address: 17017 Maricopa Highway, Los Padres National Forest, Ojai, CA 93023
Campground coordinates: 34.518049, -119.27089 (34° 31′ 04.97″N 119° 16′ 15.20″W)
Use the map below to view the campground and get directions:
|Sespe Creek to Willett Hot Springs|
This 19-miles round trip follows Sespe Creek to a relaxing hot springs.
|Rose Valley Falls|
This 1-mile round trip trail leads to the lower tier of a lovely two-tier 300-foot waterfall.
|Horn Canyon Trail|
This 2.9-mile hike in Ojai goes up a canyon in the frontcountry of the Topatopa Mountains and ventures off trail along the soothing waters of Thacher Creek.
|Sisar Canyon Trail|
This 5.5 to 6.5-mile hike travels up a canyon to a viewpoint in the Topatopa Mountains between Ojai and Santa Paula.
|Santa Paula Canyon Trail to the Punchbowl|
This 8-mile hike ventures up rugged Santa Paula Canyon to a waterfall and a Punchbowl of pools and cascades in Santa Paula Creek by Big Cone Camp.
|Ocean’s Edge and River’s Edge Trails Loop|
This level and easy 1.5-mile loop in Emma Wood State Beach borders the Pacific Ocean, the Ventura River, and an estuary flocked by seabirds.
|More Central Coast Hikes|
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey, including trails in Los Padres National Forest.
|Emma Wood State Beach Campground|
This 90-site campground in Ventura is only for RVs, offers ocean views but few amenities, and does not allow tents.
|El Capitán State Beach|
This 132-site campground offers oceanfront camping along the coast west of Santa Barbara.
|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.