Los Prietos Campground – Mountains Near Santa Barbara

Campsite:  LOS PRIETOS CAMPGROUND

Geographic Location:  SANTA BARBARA MOUNTAINS

Type of Campground: US FOREST SERVICE

Experience Level: GOOD FOR BEGINNERS AND FAMILIES

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(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(4) SURE – PETS ARE WELCOME AND THERE WERE LOTS OF DOGS WHILE WE STAYED HERE. THERE ARE NEARBY POOLS IN THE RIVER THAT YOUR DOG CAN PLAY IN, JUST BE CAREFUL ABOUT THEM RUNNING THROUGH POISON OAK.

Family Friendly:(4) THIS PART OF THE SANTA YNEZ MOUNTAINS IS SORT OF PLAYGROUND FOR KIDS AND KIDS AT HEART. THE CAMPGROUND DIDN’T HAVE ANY ACTIVITIES BUT IT IS NEARBY A RIVER TO SWIM IN, LAKE CACHUMA ISN’T FAR, AND WE DISCOVERED SOME ROCK CLIMBING SPOTS THAT ARE AWESOME FOR EXPERIENCED CLIMBERS AND FOR THOSE JUST WANTING TO SCRAMBLE OVER SOME BOULDERS.

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Lots of fun boulders to climb at nearby Lizard’s Mouth (made famous by the movie ‘Alpha Dog’)

Cleanliness: (4) IT WAS STILL EARLY IN THE SEASON, SO WE CAN’T SAY IF ITS ALWAYS LIKE THIS, BUT IT WAS IMPRESSIVELY CLEAN. OUR FIRE PIT HAD BEEN FRESHLY CLEANED OUT AND OUR PICNIC TABLE WAS CLEAN.

Noise Level: (4) ASIDE FROM ALL OF THE DOGS BARKING AT EACH OTHER, WE FOUND THIS CAMPGROUND TO BE PEACEFUL. I THINK SOME OTHER LOCAL CAMPGROUNDS DRAW MORE OF THE COLLEGE PARTY CROWD THAN THIS ONE (I’M LOOKING AT YOU EL CAPITAN).

Restrooms: (3.5) THE RESTROOMS WERE CLEAN AND THEY HAVE FLUSH TOILETS, BUT THERE ARE NO EXTRA AMENITIES HERE. NO SINKS OR MIRRORS IN THE RESTROOMS. THESE LOOK LIKE THEY WERE ONCE VAULT TOILETS THAT WERE UPGRADED TO FLUSH TOILETS.

Campsite Space: (4.5) WE WERE IMPRESSED WITH HOW NICE AND BIG OUR SITE WAS, ESPECIALLY FOR BEING ON THE INSIDE OF THE LOOP. WE NOTICED MANY OF THE SITES HERE WERE SPACIOUS AND FELT MORE SECLUDED THAN OTHER CAMPGROUNDS. WE EVEN HAD A FUN BOULDER IN OUR SITE TO CLIMB ON.

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The view from our car. We had so much space!

Shade/Sun: (4.5) AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE PICTURE ABOVE, THIS CAMPGROUND HAS TONS OF SHADE FROM ALL OF THE BEAUTIFUL OAK TREES. THAT BEING SAID, WE WERE ALSO HERE IN SPRING, AND BY SUMMER THIS CAMPGROUND MAY STILL BE HOT.

Ground: (4) DIRT – PRETTY FLAT. WE DID NOT HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING A PLACE FOR OUR TENT.

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (4) IT WASN’T OVERWHELMING. THERE WERE SOME BUGS, MOSTLY FOUND UNDER OUR TENT WHEN WE WENT TO PACK UP. THERE WERE A FEW MOSQUITOES BUT IT WASN’T TOO BAD. IF YOU COME IN SPRING BE AWARE THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF BEES ON NEARBY HIKES WITH WILDFLOWERS.ALSO FUN, THERE ARE WILD TURKEYS ROAMING THROUGH THE CAMPGROUND!!!!!! ALSO BE WARNED, THERE ARE COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF POISON OAK ON THE TRAILS NEARBY.

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Leaves of 3 – let it be

Amenities:

  • FLUSH TOILETS
  • BBQ AT EACH SITE
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • CONCRETE PICNIC TABLES
  • WATER SPIGOT
  • WILDFLOWERS GALORE NEARBY IN SPRING!
  • GREAT NEARBY HIKING INCLUDING SWIM AREAS

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Comments from the “Chix”

campin chix logo

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OK so I have to admit, we have been avoiding camping in the Santa Ynez mountains for as long as we have been camping. Why? Um…we don’t know, the beach just always sounded more appealing on hot summer weekends. BUT OUR MINDS WERE BLOWN! This campground was probably one of our all time favorites! We went in Spring before it got hot and crowded, and while the wildflowers were in bloom. The campground had so much space and nice shade and the surrounds were just breathtakingly beautiful! This made for the perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of LA.
Pros: The beauty, I can’t say enough about it. We really enjoyed how much there was to do out here. The campground was clean and nice and shady, but the nearby hiking is what had us hooked, that and the oak trees. In the pictures above you can see the flowers from the incredible Aliso Canyon Loop trail. This was one of the coolest hike we have ever done; there wasn’t a single other person on the trail and we were walking through flowers taller than us. But, there were also about 100,000 bees joining us (no stings though!). Also, Red Rock, further down the road, is gorgeous and you can swim, just wear sandals cuz its rocky. Also, we heard it can be a hot spot for rowdy teens, but we didn’t see any.
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Red Rock swimming area
Cons: I hear it can get hot during summer. The other big con would be that no fires are allowed during fire season, so check before you go. But, this is the best place to go in Spring, really! Oh I guess the other con is no sinks in the bathroom.
Tips: Bring some hiking clothes/shoes because you will want to go exploring! Come in Spring during the wildflower blooms and before the fire season starts.
Nearby attractions to check out:
~Aliso Canyon loop trail: very close to the campground and the best place to see the wildflowers.
~Red Rock: further down the road, and requires crossing water, but beautiful and a nice place to cool off in the water. Watch for poison oak.
~Lizard’s mouth: Rock climbing and boulder hopping. This was so much fun. This is on your way back towards Santa Barbara. Park near the gun range.
~Lake Cachuma: We didn’t go, but the lake offers recreational activities and is about a 20 minutes drive from the campground.
 More fun photos from this trip!

Link to reserve your spot at Los Prietos Campground

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