Gaviota State Park, California: A Comprehensive Guide!

Gaviota State Park
Explore Gaviota State Park's beaches, trails, and hot springs in our ultimate guide for an unforgettable Californian adventure.

Pack your sense of adventure and your sunscreen, we’re heading to Gaviota State Park! This coastal haven in Santa Barbara County is more than just a beach spot; it’s a treasure trove of outdoor thrills.

Ready to soak up the sun on the sands, wander through winding trails, or discover secret hot springs? Our guide is your all-access pass to the park’s must-sees, from the Gaviota Wind Caves to the best hiking routes.

Whether you’re a seasoned trailblazer or just looking for a breath of fresh sea air, this park has something for everyone. Let’s hit the road and uncover all the tips and tricks for making your Gaviota getaway unforgettable!

Gaviota State Park is a popular destination for hiking, picnicking, and camping. The park also offers a variety of other activities, including fishing, bird watching, and stargazing.

Gaviota Beach stargazing 1

Hiking is a popular activity at Gaviota State Park. There are several trails of varying difficulty levels that wind through the park. Picnicking is another popular activity at the park. There are several picnic areas with tables and grills available for use. 

Camping is also available at Gaviota State Park. There are two campgrounds in the park, which offer a total of 100 campsites.

Fishing is allowed in certain areas of Gaviota State Park. Bird watching is also a popular pastime in the park. There are several species of birds that can be seen in the park, including hawks, eagles, and owls. 

Stargazing is also possible in the clear night skies above Gaviota State Park. 

The park also offers several educational opportunities for visitors. 

Guided nature walks and interpretive programs are available at the park, which provide a great way to learn more about the area’s natural history. The park also hosts several special events throughout the year, such as wildlife talks and birding festivals.

Gaviota State Park Beach & Campground

Gaviota State Park is one of California’s hidden gems, and its beach and campground are no exception. The beach at Gaviota State Park is a beautiful and secluded spot, perfect for a day of relaxation or exploring. 

Gaviota State Park Beach Campground

The campground at Gaviota State Park is also a great option for those looking to spend a night or two under the stars.

The campground has 39 single-family (mixed-used) campsites for tents, trailers and RVs. All are short walks to the ocean, beach and pier.  Access to the beach is via a trail under the iconic Southern Pacific railroad trestle that crosses Gaviota creek above the day-use parking lot.

The campground also has a camp store, drinking water, flush toilets and showers. Each campsite has a table, fire ring and grill. Firewood is also available for sale from the campground host.


Gaviota State Park Campground offers a range of amenities to enhance visitors’ camping and recreational experience. 

Gaviota State Park Beach Campground 2

Campers can take advantage of the camp store to purchase camping supplies and groceries or use the BBQ grills and fire pits to cook meals. The park also provides drinking water, picnic tables, and firewood for campers to use. 

For those with horses, there is an equestrian trail available. While cell service may be limited, visitors can make use of the pay phone available in the park. 

The park also offers recycling centers, restrooms with flush toilets, and showers for visitors’ convenience.


Gaviota State Park has something for everyone when it comes to outdoor recreation. The park’s beach offers a variety of activities, including beachcombing, swimming, body surfing, and surfing. 

kayaking Gaviota State Park Beach Campground 2

Visitors can also fish from the pier or creek, or kayak and boat in the ocean. 

For those who prefer to stay on land, the park has a range of hiking and nature trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. 

Visitors can also go biking or mountain biking, or explore the park’s wildlife by bird watching or wildlife viewing. 

For those who love adventure, scuba diving, snorkeling, and kite surfing are also available. 

In the evenings, visitors can enjoy stargazing or whale watching. With so many activities to choose from, visitors are sure to have a memorable experience at Gaviota State Park.

Wildlife and Plant Life in the Area

wildlife Gaviota State Park Beach Campground 2

Gaviota State Park is home to a variety of wildlife and plant life. The park’s diverse ecosystem includes coastal sagebrush, chaparral, grassland, and riparian habitats. 

These habitats support a variety of animals, including bobcats, deer, rabbits, squirrels, lizards, snakes, and birds.

The park’s coastal sagebrush habitat is home to the endangered California condor. The chaparral habitat is home to the threatened Santa Cruz Island fox. 

The grassland habitat supports a variety of wildlife, including deer, rabbits, squirrels, and lizards. The riparian habitat is home to a variety of birds, including the threatened California least tern.

Hiking Trails at Gaviota State Park

Gaviota State Park is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in California. The park offers a variety of trails for all levels of hikers, from easy trails that wind through the forest and along the beach, to more challenging hikes that take you up into the mountains.

Ortega Trail

Ortega Trail

The Ortega Trail is a moderate trail takes you through the forest, with many side trails to explore along the way. You’ll come across diverse wildlife and plenty of great views as you make your way up to a ridge that overlooks the Santa Ynez Valley.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, Gaviota State Park has something for everyone. With its varied terrain and stunning views, it’s easy to see why this state park is so beloved by outdoor enthusiasts.

Gaviota Peak Trail

Gaviota Peak Trail

The Gaviota Peak Trail is a more challenging hike that takes you up to the highest point in the park. You’ll pass through chaparral and oak woodlands, with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife along the way. 

From the top of Gaviota Peak, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the ocean and mountains.

Goleta Hot Springs

Goleta Hot Springs

The Goleta Hot Springs Trail is a more difficult hike that takes you to a set of natural hot springs. This is the perfect spot for soaking up some of nature’s healing waters and enjoying the tranquil atmosphere. 

It is important to keep in mind though, that some areas may be closed due to safety or environmental concerns. Be sure to check with park rangers before heading out on this trail.

Campbell Trail

Campbell Trail

The Campbell Trail is a moderate trail that takes you through a variety of habitats, including chaparral and riparian woodlands. This trail is well-marked and offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, as well as stunning views of the coastline.

Gaviota Wind Caves

Gaviota Wind Caves

The Gaviota Wind Caves Trail is a moderate hike that takes you to a set of mysterious caves. These caves were formed by wind and water erosion, and are believed to be thousands of years old. 

The trail offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery, as well as breathtaking views of the ocean along the way. 

No matter what kind of hike you’re looking for, Gaviota State Park has something for everyone. With its beautiful views and diverse terrain, it’s easy to see why this state park is a popular destination for hikers.

Detailed Maps of the Area

gaviota map

Gaviota State Park is a hidden gem located in California’s Central Coast region. The park offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as a variety of hiking trails, campgrounds, and beaches.

Detailed maps of the area are available online and at the park ranger station. These maps show the different hiking trails, campgrounds, and beaches in the park. They also list the amenities that are available at each location.

Local Attractions

Gaviota State Park is home to a number of local attractions that are sure to keep you entertained during your visit. The park’s main attraction is its beautiful beaches, which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and simply taking in stunning views. Other popular activities at Gaviota State Park include hiking, picnicking, fishing, and bird watching.

Gaviota tunnel

The park is also home to a number of historical landmarks, such as the Gaviota Pier (built-in 1866) and the Gaviota Train Tunnel (built-in 1873). These landmarks offer a glimpse into the history of the area and are definitely worth checking out.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or an adventurous hike, Gaviota State Park has something for everyone. So make sure to add it to your list of must-visit California destinations!

Gaviota Northbound Rest Area

The Gaviota Northbound Rest Area is a great place to stop and take in the stunning views of California’s central coast. This rest area is located on Highway 101, just north of Gaviota State Park. There are picnic tables, bathrooms, and plenty of space to stretch your legs. This is a perfect spot to enjoy a packed lunch or snacks while enjoying the incredible views.

Gaviota Southbound Rest Area

The Gaviota Southbound Rest Area is located just off the 101 freeway, south of Buellton. This rest area is a great place to take a break from driving and enjoy the beautiful views of the Santa Ynez Valley. There are picnic tables and restrooms available, as well as a small hiking trail that leads down to a creek.

Tips for Visiting Gaviota State Park

If you’re looking for a beautiful and secluded state park to explore in California, look no further than Gaviota State Park. This hidden gem is located just north of Santa Barbara and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Here are some tips for making the most of your visit to Gaviota State Park:

1. Arrive early or stay late to avoid crowds. This state park is popular with locals, so it can get busy on weekends and holidays. If you want to enjoy the peace and quiet of this natural paradise, aim to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon/evening.

2. Bring your own food and drinks. There are no food concessions at Gaviota State Park, so make sure to pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water.

3. Hike the Gaviota Peak Trail. This moderate 3-mile hike leads to stunning panoramic views from the 2,450-foot summit of Gaviota Peak. It’s well worth the effort!

4. Take a dip in Beggar’s Canyon Creek. This refreshing creek runs through the state park and is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Just be sure to pack appropriate footwear so you don’t slip on the rocks.

5. Stargaze at nightfall. One of the best things about visiting Gaviota State Park is being able to escape the light pollution of cities and experience some truly incredible star -filled nights!

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to make the most of your visit to Gaviota State Park and create lasting memories. Have fun!

Gaviota Beach

Gaviota Beach is a beautiful, secluded beach located in Gaviota State Park. This beach is known for its dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and stunning views. Visitors can find a number of hiking trails leading down to the beach, where they can enjoy picnicking, swimming, fishing, and surfing. 

Gaviota Beach

Gaviota Beach is located just off Highway 101 and is accessible from the park’s main entrance. Visitors should note that there are no lifeguards on duty, but they can easily access the beach during low tide when the water is calmest.

The beach has a few amenities available, such as public restrooms and picnic tables. There is also a small, seasonal snack bar that serves burgers, hot dogs, and other snacks. Parking at Gaviota Beach costs $5 per vehicle for up to 8 people. 

Gaviota Beach is a must-see destination for visitors looking for an idyllic getaway by the sea. With its gorgeous views, secluded setting and convenient amenities, this beach is sure to provide an unforgettable experience!

How to get to Gaviota State Park from Los Angeles

gaviota map from LA

Gaviota State Park is located just off Highway 101, about an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles. To get there, take 101 North until you reach exit 140 for Gaviota State Park. From there, follow the signs to the park entrance. Once you’re in the park, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore, as well as a beach where you can relax and take in the stunning views.

You pass through the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta on your way to Gaviota State Park. There is also the option of taking a scenic coastal drive along Highway 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway for an even more memorable journey.

The distance is approximately 130 miles, depending on the route you take.


Exploring Gaviota State Park, a short drive from LA is a great way to experience the best of California’s natural beauty. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or an adventure-filled trip, this hidden gem will not disappoint. There are plenty of activities and attractions to keep visitors busy, so take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore all that this lovely state park has to offer!

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