El Capitan State Park

North of Santa Barbara there's a beautiful state park called El Capitan.  When I was in my twenties I hung out there a lot.  Once I had a family, we made frequent trips to El Capitan for camping.  The central coast of California is spectacularly beautiful and much less crowded than many other areas of the state.

Last Sunday I cruised into El Capitan.

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The park was deserted and I was the only person on the entire beach.

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The campgrounds at El Capitan are up on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  Can you imagine having your tent set up right here and waking up every morning to this view?

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It's my favorite camping spot in California.

One of the many things I love about El Capitan is the fact you can be hiking through wilderness one minute, round a corner in the path, and see breathtaking ocean views.

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This path leads to this beach:

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There's even a creek that runs through the campground and out to the ocean.

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I've had many picnics at El Capitan over the years.  My favorite picnic spot is right here.

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The views are spectacular in both directions.  It's an amazing little spot.  Also, there are great tide pools about five feet away.  I can amuse myself with tide pools for hours.

Dolphins love this stretch of coastline.  You can spot them playing offshore almost every morning and again in the late afternoon/early evening.  In the summer, they seem to delight in having you swim along with them.  I always get the feeling they're laughing at me.  (I'm sure they are!)

On Sunday, I sat alone on the beach just taking in the beauty around me.  I could not have asked for a nicer day.  All of a sudden a whale breached right in front of me!  I'm used to being by the ocean, but even so, it took my breath away.  I'm not a whale expert, but I believe it was a gray whale.  It surfaced a few times to blow water from its spout.  I tried to get a photo, but all I got was his back retreating.  (Look closely, it's the dark spot on the sea.)

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Gray whales feed close to shore.  They are generally about 50 feet in length.  If I'd been swimming and one approached me, I'm quite sure I'd have had heart failure on the spot. Seeing one from a safe distance, however, is majestic.

Right across from the sand is a meadow leading to the forest.

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Did I mention how beautiful it is at El Capitan?

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Breathtaking!  

Do you have a favorite state park or camping spot?

Β© Twenty Four At Heart

84 Responses to “El Capitan State Park”

  1. SSG

    Woah so beautiful. At home I have a secret place i like to go, with a lake and mountains and trees, but I can’t say here in case other people find it. I love sometimes going where nobody else is and just relaxing, watching the sea, listening to the wind, mmmm bliss.

  2. SSG

    Woah so beautiful. At home I have a secret place i like to go, with a lake and mountains and trees, but I can’t say here in case other people find it. I love sometimes going where nobody else is and just relaxing, watching the sea, listening to the wind, mmmm bliss.

  3. SSG

    Woah so beautiful. At home I have a secret place i like to go, with a lake and mountains and trees, but I can’t say here in case other people find it. I love sometimes going where nobody else is and just relaxing, watching the sea, listening to the wind, mmmm bliss.

  4. Jan

    *pouts* I want to swim with the dolphins…
    We camped at various state parks a great deal when I was growing up – Tyler State Park in Texas was usually the park of choice. Decent size lake where you can swim, canoe, kayak or rent a paddle boat, clean grounds, stuck right in the middle of the East Texas piney woods. Very, very nice.

  5. Jan

    *pouts* I want to swim with the dolphins…
    We camped at various state parks a great deal when I was growing up – Tyler State Park in Texas was usually the park of choice. Decent size lake where you can swim, canoe, kayak or rent a paddle boat, clean grounds, stuck right in the middle of the East Texas piney woods. Very, very nice.

  6. Jan

    *pouts* I want to swim with the dolphins…
    We camped at various state parks a great deal when I was growing up – Tyler State Park in Texas was usually the park of choice. Decent size lake where you can swim, canoe, kayak or rent a paddle boat, clean grounds, stuck right in the middle of the East Texas piney woods. Very, very nice.

  7. Alan

    How funny is it that you live in such a beautiful area with amazing weather and you are surrounded by such shallow, awful people.
    Great pics 24! πŸ™‚

  8. Alan

    How funny is it that you live in such a beautiful area with amazing weather and you are surrounded by such shallow, awful people.
    Great pics 24! πŸ™‚

  9. Alan

    How funny is it that you live in such a beautiful area with amazing weather and you are surrounded by such shallow, awful people.
    Great pics 24! πŸ™‚

  10. Donna in VA

    Stunningly beautiful.
    I’m not a camper by any stretch of the imagination, but apparently it’s because I never camped in Southern CA. I could handle THAT.
    Gorgeous!
    I, too, have a spot I go to when I need quiet. It’s down in NC on this one spot on the beach. It’s my haven. I hope you’re feeling better now.

  11. Donna in VA

    Stunningly beautiful.
    I’m not a camper by any stretch of the imagination, but apparently it’s because I never camped in Southern CA. I could handle THAT.
    Gorgeous!
    I, too, have a spot I go to when I need quiet. It’s down in NC on this one spot on the beach. It’s my haven. I hope you’re feeling better now.

  12. Donna in VA

    Stunningly beautiful.
    I’m not a camper by any stretch of the imagination, but apparently it’s because I never camped in Southern CA. I could handle THAT.
    Gorgeous!
    I, too, have a spot I go to when I need quiet. It’s down in NC on this one spot on the beach. It’s my haven. I hope you’re feeling better now.

  13. Hallie

    I enjoy camping out at my local COACH store. Or the PRADA store if I’m in the city!!
    Hallie

  14. Hallie

    I enjoy camping out at my local COACH store. Or the PRADA store if I’m in the city!!
    Hallie

  15. Hallie

    I enjoy camping out at my local COACH store. Or the PRADA store if I’m in the city!!
    Hallie

  16. Margie

    Beautiful place. I’m so envious. Don’t camp anymore but have in places in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. Awesome. But no ocean.:( Thanks for sharing such awesome pictures.

  17. Margie

    Beautiful place. I’m so envious. Don’t camp anymore but have in places in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. Awesome. But no ocean.:( Thanks for sharing such awesome pictures.

  18. Margie

    Beautiful place. I’m so envious. Don’t camp anymore but have in places in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. Awesome. But no ocean.:( Thanks for sharing such awesome pictures.

  19. Elixa

    All of the world’s gold and money couldn’t make me go camping. It’s just not for me.
    I have been camping twice and I swear that the people and bugs at the campsite tried to kill me. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.
    But El Capitan looks beautiful. I would definitely picnic/ make out/ contemplate there.

  20. Elixa

    All of the world’s gold and money couldn’t make me go camping. It’s just not for me.
    I have been camping twice and I swear that the people and bugs at the campsite tried to kill me. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.
    But El Capitan looks beautiful. I would definitely picnic/ make out/ contemplate there.

  21. Elixa

    All of the world’s gold and money couldn’t make me go camping. It’s just not for me.
    I have been camping twice and I swear that the people and bugs at the campsite tried to kill me. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.
    But El Capitan looks beautiful. I would definitely picnic/ make out/ contemplate there.

  22. Linda

    ELPH is not a camper so it’s been some time since I’ve gone but my favorite place was Steamboat Lake, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Beautiful lake at 8,000 feet in full view of Hahn’s Peak. Stunning state park, lots of trails and wildlife. Came up on a badger once. That was a bit alarming! Had a bull elk investigate our campsite one night too. They are especially huge when you’re laying on the ground looking up at them!!

  23. Linda

    ELPH is not a camper so it’s been some time since I’ve gone but my favorite place was Steamboat Lake, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Beautiful lake at 8,000 feet in full view of Hahn’s Peak. Stunning state park, lots of trails and wildlife. Came up on a badger once. That was a bit alarming! Had a bull elk investigate our campsite one night too. They are especially huge when you’re laying on the ground looking up at them!!

  24. Linda

    ELPH is not a camper so it’s been some time since I’ve gone but my favorite place was Steamboat Lake, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Beautiful lake at 8,000 feet in full view of Hahn’s Peak. Stunning state park, lots of trails and wildlife. Came up on a badger once. That was a bit alarming! Had a bull elk investigate our campsite one night too. They are especially huge when you’re laying on the ground looking up at them!!

  25. Kelly

    I think I should move to el capitan. Beautiful pictures. I could sit up on that bluff forever. Or at that picnic table. Or on that beach. Wow!!

  26. Kelly

    I think I should move to el capitan. Beautiful pictures. I could sit up on that bluff forever. Or at that picnic table. Or on that beach. Wow!!

  27. Kelly

    I think I should move to el capitan. Beautiful pictures. I could sit up on that bluff forever. Or at that picnic table. Or on that beach. Wow!!

  28. LPC

    My mother lives in Santa Barbara. That area is so wonderful. I love to take the trip down. The moment when you drive round a corner on 101 and finally see the ocean is so good for the heart. I hope you soaked up lots of fuel to continue the slog of PT, along with the sunshine.

  29. LPC

    My mother lives in Santa Barbara. That area is so wonderful. I love to take the trip down. The moment when you drive round a corner on 101 and finally see the ocean is so good for the heart. I hope you soaked up lots of fuel to continue the slog of PT, along with the sunshine.

  30. LPC

    My mother lives in Santa Barbara. That area is so wonderful. I love to take the trip down. The moment when you drive round a corner on 101 and finally see the ocean is so good for the heart. I hope you soaked up lots of fuel to continue the slog of PT, along with the sunshine.

  31. Deb

    Bee-yoo-tee-full!! Jealous. The whale – wow!!! What a thrill that must have been!

  32. Deb

    Bee-yoo-tee-full!! Jealous. The whale – wow!!! What a thrill that must have been!

  33. Deb

    Bee-yoo-tee-full!! Jealous. The whale – wow!!! What a thrill that must have been!

  34. Enchanted

    I am not a camper but if I was so inclined all I need to do is pitch a tent in my yard. I live way far into the country.

  35. Enchanted

    I am not a camper but if I was so inclined all I need to do is pitch a tent in my yard. I live way far into the country.

  36. Enchanted

    I am not a camper but if I was so inclined all I need to do is pitch a tent in my yard. I live way far into the country.

  37. Renee Couturier

    That is absolutely gorgeous!! My favorite camping/picnic place is in the good old NC mountain. There is a State Park at Hanging Rock that has a great lake for swimming and the scenery is amazing. You are truly blessed to be in such a beautiful area. If it weren’t for earthquakes, you would have it made.

  38. Renee Couturier

    That is absolutely gorgeous!! My favorite camping/picnic place is in the good old NC mountain. There is a State Park at Hanging Rock that has a great lake for swimming and the scenery is amazing. You are truly blessed to be in such a beautiful area. If it weren’t for earthquakes, you would have it made.

  39. Renee Couturier

    That is absolutely gorgeous!! My favorite camping/picnic place is in the good old NC mountain. There is a State Park at Hanging Rock that has a great lake for swimming and the scenery is amazing. You are truly blessed to be in such a beautiful area. If it weren’t for earthquakes, you would have it made.

  40. dadshouse

    I love El Cap! We used to camp there with the Boy Scouts when I was a kid. You’re right, it’s a great mix of hiking on trails, in woods, then views of the ocean and beach. We were lucky enough to sleep on the sand one night. Those silver fish in the waves reflected the moonlight, and the waves looked like they were all lit up. Beautiful.
    Thanks for the memories!!!

  41. dadshouse

    I love El Cap! We used to camp there with the Boy Scouts when I was a kid. You’re right, it’s a great mix of hiking on trails, in woods, then views of the ocean and beach. We were lucky enough to sleep on the sand one night. Those silver fish in the waves reflected the moonlight, and the waves looked like they were all lit up. Beautiful.
    Thanks for the memories!!!

  42. dadshouse

    I love El Cap! We used to camp there with the Boy Scouts when I was a kid. You’re right, it’s a great mix of hiking on trails, in woods, then views of the ocean and beach. We were lucky enough to sleep on the sand one night. Those silver fish in the waves reflected the moonlight, and the waves looked like they were all lit up. Beautiful.
    Thanks for the memories!!!

  43. Chris

    Oh it looks so peaceful! Thank you for sharing with us land locked people!!

  44. Chris

    Oh it looks so peaceful! Thank you for sharing with us land locked people!!

  45. Chris

    Oh it looks so peaceful! Thank you for sharing with us land locked people!!

  46. sometimessophia

    Beautiful, gorgeous photos… El Capitan is spectacular. No wonder you gravitate there time and time again. A favorite spot? Almost any beach will do, although I’m partial to Crane’s Beach in Ipswich, MA. Mountain tops are a close second.

  47. sometimessophia

    Beautiful, gorgeous photos… El Capitan is spectacular. No wonder you gravitate there time and time again. A favorite spot? Almost any beach will do, although I’m partial to Crane’s Beach in Ipswich, MA. Mountain tops are a close second.

  48. sometimessophia

    Beautiful, gorgeous photos… El Capitan is spectacular. No wonder you gravitate there time and time again. A favorite spot? Almost any beach will do, although I’m partial to Crane’s Beach in Ipswich, MA. Mountain tops are a close second.

  49. Mad Woman

    Those are some beautiful pictures!! I’m envious!
    I don’t really have a favourite spot here, but once we move I’ll share some of mine from NZ.

  50. Mad Woman

    Those are some beautiful pictures!! I’m envious!
    I don’t really have a favourite spot here, but once we move I’ll share some of mine from NZ.

  51. Mad Woman

    Those are some beautiful pictures!! I’m envious!
    I don’t really have a favourite spot here, but once we move I’ll share some of mine from NZ.

  52. Lori

    Beautiful! I cannot imagine taking all of this in…and in such peace and quiet…now that is priceless.

  53. Lori

    Beautiful! I cannot imagine taking all of this in…and in such peace and quiet…now that is priceless.

  54. Lori

    Beautiful! I cannot imagine taking all of this in…and in such peace and quiet…now that is priceless.

  55. Lump

    ok, so I am NOT going to tell you that I’m SO FUCKING JEALOUS of where you live. nope, not going to do it.

  56. Lump

    ok, so I am NOT going to tell you that I’m SO FUCKING JEALOUS of where you live. nope, not going to do it.

  57. Lump

    ok, so I am NOT going to tell you that I’m SO FUCKING JEALOUS of where you live. nope, not going to do it.

  58. Pseudo

    I have been missing California a lot lately as our mornings here have a slight haze and when I drive to work it reminds me of Oxnard’s agricultural fields. Now, with your post, I actually ache for California.
    I grew up in Ventura County and we used to go to El Capitan. It was the first place I was allowed (senior year) to go with my first serious boyfriend. I’ve got some found memories of those bluffs at night….
    You take glorious photos 24

  59. Pseudo

    I have been missing California a lot lately as our mornings here have a slight haze and when I drive to work it reminds me of Oxnard’s agricultural fields. Now, with your post, I actually ache for California.
    I grew up in Ventura County and we used to go to El Capitan. It was the first place I was allowed (senior year) to go with my first serious boyfriend. I’ve got some found memories of those bluffs at night….
    You take glorious photos 24

  60. Pseudo

    I have been missing California a lot lately as our mornings here have a slight haze and when I drive to work it reminds me of Oxnard’s agricultural fields. Now, with your post, I actually ache for California.
    I grew up in Ventura County and we used to go to El Capitan. It was the first place I was allowed (senior year) to go with my first serious boyfriend. I’ve got some found memories of those bluffs at night….
    You take glorious photos 24

  61. Suz Broughton

    This is one of my favorite spots too. Though I don’t camp, i used to live in sB and would go here for the day sometimes. Really remarkable!

  62. Suz Broughton

    This is one of my favorite spots too. Though I don’t camp, i used to live in sB and would go here for the day sometimes. Really remarkable!

  63. Suz Broughton

    This is one of my favorite spots too. Though I don’t camp, i used to live in sB and would go here for the day sometimes. Really remarkable!

  64. shaunna

    i think i may drive up to el capitan on friday. i have to go to santa barbara anyway. πŸ™‚

  65. shaunna

    i think i may drive up to el capitan on friday. i have to go to santa barbara anyway. πŸ™‚

  66. shaunna

    i think i may drive up to el capitan on friday. i have to go to santa barbara anyway. πŸ™‚

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