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Gaviota State Park
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Gaviota State Park © Lisa Rupe
Gaviota State Park California Coast © Lisa Rupe
Gaviota State Park.
Gaviota State Park © Lisa Rupe
Gaviota State Park © Lisa Rupe
Gaviota State Park © Lisa Rupe
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#10 Refugio Beach Rd.
Goleta, California   93117

Phone: 805-968-1033
Reservations: 805-968-1771
Email: park email button icon
Gaviota State Park takes its name from the Spanish word for seagull, given to the area by soldiers of the Portola Expedition who supposedly killed a seagull while camping here in 1769. Marked by a tall Southern Pacific railroad trestle that crosses Gaviota Creek high above the day-use parking lot, the park is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, surf fishing and camping, despite high winds that often blow through the area. A pier on the west end of the beach is used by anglers, and scuba divers and surfers use a boat hoist on the pier to access the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Visitors can explore the rugged upland portions of the park from a trailhead in the parking area. Ambitious hikers can climb to Gaviota Peak that offers a spectacular view of the coast and the Channel Islands.

History of the Area
Located in Santa Barbara County, California, the park was established in 1953. It spans over 2,800 acres of land and sea. Known for its diverse ecosystem including chaparral-covered hillsides and rugged coastline.

The Chumash people were early inhabitants before Spanish explorers arrived during the late-18th century. The name "Gaviota" means seagull in Spanish which is abundant along this part of coast.

In the mid-19th century it became a stopover point on El Camino Real connecting missions across Alta California region.

During World War II, military used parts as training grounds; remnants can still be seen today such as concrete structures or bunkers.

Today it's popular among hikers due to extensive trail network offering panoramic views from Pacific Ocean to Channel Islands National Park.

- Gaviota State Park Campground: Offers 39 campsites for tents, trailers and RVs with picnic tables and fire rings.
- Group Camping Site: Accommodates up to 50 people; ideal for large gatherings or events.
- Hike & Bike Sites: Available on a first-come-first-served basis; suitable for cyclists or hikers passing through the park.
- Primitive Camping Areas: For those seeking solitude in nature without amenities like restrooms or water supply.

Gaviota State Park is located near Goleta, Lompoc and Goleta

Beach-to-Backcountry, Overlook, Hollister Trails To Gaviota Pass Overlook is 5 miles round trip with 700-foot elevation gain;loop via Overlook and Hollister Trails is 8.5 miles round tripwith 800-foot elevation gain

It would be unfair to say no one stops in Gaviota Pass. The pass hosts a Caltrans rest area, site of the only public restrooms along a 250 mile length of Highway 101 between Los Angeles and the hamlet of Bradley north of San Luis Obispo.

Most motorists who stop, and the multitudes who do not, remain oblivious to the area?s historical importance and natural attractions. Too bad, because Gaviota Pass and its pathways are too good to pass up.

Most of the pass?the green scene on either side of Highway 101?is the rolling backcountry of 2,775-acre Gaviota State Park. Park trails meander across oak-dotted potreros and travel ridgetops that afford hikers grand vistas of Gaviota Pass and the wide blue Pacific.

Surely the most memorable view of the pass, to moviegoers anyway, occurs in The Graduate when lost soul Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) drives a beautiful new Alfa Romeo through the mist and into the Gaviota Tunnel.

Explorer Gaspar de Portola led his party through the pass in 1769. Expedition diarist, Father Juan Crespi dubbed the coastline here San Luis in honor of the King of France. However, Portola?s soldiers figured that La Gaviota, Spanish for seagull, was more appropriate.

Gaviota earned its small place in California history as a place to avoid. During the short Mexican-American War, General John C. Fremont and his 700 men were marching south toward Santa Barbara when they learned that the Mexican californio troops awaited in ambush at Gaviota Pass. American forces were led through nearby San Marcos Pass by rancher Benjamin Foxen on Christmas eve 1846. Thus, the Americans occupied Santa Barbara without bloodshed on Christmas day.

Gaviota State Park offers hiking on both sides of the pass. Eastside trail attractions include a hot springs and connections to Los Padres National Forest footpaths. On the west side of the pass, the park?s trail network honeycombs a delightful backcountry and offers the hiker a number of loops of varying distances and difficulties.

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Area Campgrounds
Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground
180 Avenue of the Flags
Buellton, CA
Ocean Mesa Campground
100 El Capitan Terrace Lane
Santa Barbara, CA
Nearby Hotels

The park is located 33 miles west of Santa Barbara on U.S. 101.

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California State Parks