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California > Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Leo Carrillo State Beach- The park is located 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway. The beach was named after Leo Carrillo, a popular radio and TV performer, who also served on the State Park and Recreation Commission.
Malibu Creek State Park- Just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the park offers an escape from the city within the city. Twenty-five-mile Malibu Creek in the park is the principal watercourse of the Santa Monica Mountains - from Boney Mountain to Malibu Lagoon.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach- This State Beach is located in along the Southern California coast, in Malibu. The lagoon is where Malibu Creek meets the sea. The Adamson House, a National Historic Landmark, sits on the property.
Point Dume State Beach- This beach is located in Los Angeles County,18 miles west of Santa Monica. Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, secluded coves and tidepools.
Point Mugu State Park- Point Mugu State Park, located in the Santa Monica Mountains, features five miles of ocean shoreline, with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, rugged hills and uplands.
Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach- Located between Leo Carrillo and Point Dume State Beaches, Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach is made up of a number of cove or cliff-foot strands known as "pocket beaches".
Topanga State Park- Located in the cliffs and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga State Park features 36 miles of trails through open grassland, live oaks and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
Will Rogers State Beach- Will Rogers State Beach extends one and three-quarters mile along the shore. The park features swimming, surfing and skin diving. Facilities include volleyball courts, playground, gymnastic equipment, a bike path and walkway.

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General Information

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Description - Comprising 150,050 acres, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the world's largest urban national park extending 46 miles from the Hollywood Bowl to Point Mugu in Ventura County. It also runs along the coastline from the Santa Monica Pier west past Malibu. The park rests in a Mediterranean ecosystem containing a wide variety of plants and wildlife. The mountains have an interesting and diverse cultural history as well. It begins with the Chumash and Gabrielino / Tongva peoples and continues today as the large Los Angeles (LA) population uses it mounting annual visitation numbers that exceed 30 million. The preserved land is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service (NPS), California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, as well as private landowners, county and city governments.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was created to protect the natural and cultural resources of this transverse mountain range and seashore. The range rises above Los Angeles and widens to meet the curve of the Santa Monica Bay. Its highest peaks face the ocean, forming a beautiful and multifaceted landscape. Los Angeles is unique among cities in a thousand ways, in particular it is the only city in the world divided in two by a mountain range, the Santa Monica Mountains, thus, it is also a city divided by a national park. Along with the traditional purposes for creating a national park in the Santa Monica Mountains, such as conserving natural and cultural resources, Congress designated this recreation area to help conserve the airshed of the LA Basin, a purpose for creating a park unique among NPS units.

The Santa Monica Mountains is home to some 450 vertebrate species of animals, all within minutes of downtown LA. Among the larger animals are mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, and deer. Thirteen nesting raptor species are found in the Santa Monica Mountains, a number equaling the Snake River Birds of Prey Sanctuary created by Congress in Idaho because of its outstanding hawks, falcons, and eagles. There are currently 25 known species native to SMMNRA listed as rare, threatened, or endangered; another 50 species which are candidates for listing are also associated within the park. One threatened species is the steelhead trout. Among its most southerly reaches are the Santa Monica Mountains.

The California State Parks is the largest landowner within the recreation area, with some 42,000 acres. The National Park Service controls about 21,500 acres. There are some 6,000 additional acres of private recreation and local public parklands. When acquisition is complete, some 50,000 acres will still remain in private ownership. Over 70 governmental entities share jurisdiction with the National Park Service in the National Recreation Area. Malibu, for example, is entirely within the park's boundary.

Since its creation in 1978, SMMNRA has never received a line-item construction appropriation from Congress (the principal source of major project funds for national parks). All facilities for visitors have been inherited, donated, or constructed using operational funds.

Attractions - Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the region is a top tourist destination for national and international travelers. Environmental and cultural educational programs are provided to thousands of children and adults annually.

Features of the park include a variety of internationally recognized recreational and cultural attractions including a 500-mile trail system that provides panoramic views of the ocean, mountains, valleys, and islands. The park also contains two of the most well traveled scenic drives in the United States. One such trail is the historic Mulholland Scenic Corridor, a 55-mile scenic drive linking Griffith Park to Leo Carrillo State Park.

The National Park Service Visitor Center is a good place to get oriented to the region and plan your tour. Other information centers in the area include Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center, Malibu Creek State Park Visitor Center, Malibu Lagoon Museum, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Topanga State Park Nature Center, Sooky Goldman Nature Center and the Charmlee Nature Center. Because Los Angles has the nation's largest population of Native American Indians - over 150,000, the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center serves as a learning institution to preserve these diverse Southern California cultures.

The park is renowned for one of the greatest densities of archaeological sites (more than 1,000) found anywhere in the world. Two indigenous peoples have made their homes in the Santa Monica Mountains: the Chumash and the GabrieliƱo-Tongva. Over 1,000 archeological sites that derive from their past history are known in the mountains. Cultural resources of a more modern vein can be found in the mountains such as the Getty Center. There are other notable cultural resources within the park, including the Paramount Ranch, formerly owned by Paramount Pictures. Historians believe it is the best-preserved complex of structures associated with the "Golden Age of Hollywood"; some think it even merits designation as a World Heritage Site.

Facilities for hikers include over 580 miles of public trails within the park. These include the Backbone Trail that extends approximately 65 miles, linking major park areas. Trail riding is a popular way to explore the backcountry and the park's varied landscape. Horse rentals are available from privately owned stables. Call the visitor center for information on horse stables, trails, and regulations. Mountain bikes and horses are permitted only on designated trails and fire roads. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all trails and fire roads.

Visit Paramount Ranch, where you may see a filmmaking crew at work. Rangers give talks about the filmmaking history in the park and the Western Town set.

Camping is available by reservation at Point Mugu, Malibu Creek, and Leo Carrillo State Parks. Group camping is available at Circle X Range.

A free quarterly calendar, "Outdoors," describes activities, programs, and special events. It includes a map, directions, and phone numbers. Write to the park or get one at the visitor center.

Most facilities and services are accessible to visitors with disabilities. Call the park for further information.

Recreation - This site offers hiking, mountain bicycling, horseback riding, bird watching, whale watching, swimming, surfing, nature walks, and picnicking to be enjoyed year-round.

Climate - The Santa Monica Mountains have a true Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers (80 to 100 degrees F) and relatively cool, wet winters (40 to 70 degrees F). Nights can be cool any time of the year, so travelers should be prepared with layered clothing in every season. In the summer, the coastal side of the mountains is generally 10 - 15 degrees cooler than the inland side. In the winter this pattern is reversed with warmer temperatures along the coast.

Location - This recreation area lies northwest of Los Angeles along the California coast. State Highway 1 leads along the southern boundary of the area and Highway 101 provides access to the northern portion of the area.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Michoel Devaney (Los Angeles, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Usually arrive at Malibu Canyon State Park about 8:30 on Sunday morning. Have hiked several of the trails, but the trail I like goes to Century Lake. From there, I climb down into the canyon below the spillway. I especially enjoy bouldering or climbing the rocks and faces in that horseshoe-shaped canyon. Haven't seen a lot of wildlife. Lotta sign of owl regurgitations so must be rodents for their fare. Fauna is gorgeous. Then I climb around the "grotto" or "Rock Pool" at the other end of the canyon with the serious climbers. If you'd like to see some of my pictures of the scenes, go to http://www.webshots.com and enter "Malibu Creek." My shots have the signature of "cantorbob1." Enjoy! Michoel

More Information

Contact Information:
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 401 W Hillcrest Drive , Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360, Phone: 805-370-2301, Fax: 805-370-1850

Additional Information:
California National Forests & Parks - California's National Parks, Monuments and Forests cover lands from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Central Coast Region - The Central Coast Region covers a tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dramatic seascapes and coastal resorts, together with the pastoral atmosphere of its inland agricultural communities, make this region an idyllic destination.
Los Angeles Area - This city is the largest in the U.S. West and supports a plethora of cultural and natural resources within its limits. Wide beaches and urban parks as well as art, history and science museums grace the boulevards of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County - Los Angeles County stretches over 4,000 square miles, encompassing high deserts, sparkling beaches, snowy peaks, and meandering megalopolis.
Pasadena Area - Pasadena lies at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains at an elevation of 865 feet. It is located northeast of Los Angeles and immediately south of the Angeles National Forest.
Southern California -

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area - Official agency website


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