California Mountains


Santa Ynez Mountains, California Transverse Ranges

Santa Ynez mountains in the Tranverse Ranges of Southern to Central Coast are some of California's youngest mountain ranges (about five million years old,) and most relaxing to enjoy as you travel Central Coast California's scenic highways. Shown in the picture are the mountains near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County.

Santa Ynez mountains include tucked away roads with estates such as Neverland Ranch, the former home of Michael Jackson.

As you leave the Los Angeles basin on Interstate 101, and head north into Ventura, you'll notice the city is flanked by a range of mountains that continue northward through Santa Barbara. Known as Santa Ynez Mountains, this range extends into Ventura, though mostly found in Santa Barbara County.

Entirely east-west trending mountains, they become apparent at the canyon of the Ventura River, and as they extend north through Ojai in Ventura County. They extend north through Santa Barbara, then west, paralleling the coast. Before reaching Lompoc the mountain range diverges into two low ranges, separated by Jalama Creek, which then vanish into the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Ynez River flows just north of the mountains, paralleling them for most of their length.

Summits in the Santa Ynez range don't generally exceed 5,000 feet elevation.

Divide Peak, 4707'
La Cumbre Peak 3985'
Santa Ynez Peak, 4298'

Santa Ynez Mountain Passes -Gaviota Pass - travelers easily see the pass on Interstate 101 at the Gaviota rest stop and Gaviota Tunnel. This is the western portion of the range and is considered the gentler method, traveling I-101 through the Gaviota Pass. Less steep inclines, more highway lanes, and not as susceptible to fog, this is the preferred route for most travelers.

San Marcos Pass is a steep, windy path on SR154. There are rock slides on occasion, windy roads, and slow driving behind trucks. Fog also creates challenging road conditions. The drive is incredibly scenic but not for everyone. San Marcos Pass - travelers on SR154 northeast of the city of Santa Barbara drive through this pass which includes a drive over the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge near the summit.

Things to see:

Chumash Indians created rock art paintings seen at Painted Cave State Historic Park. Large portions of the mountain range are located in the Los Padres National Forest. The walls of a small cave carved from sandstone boulders contain some of the finest remaining rock art created by Chumash Native Americans. A steep path leads to the cave entrance, which is protected by heavy iron grillwork. Anthropologists estimate that the paintings date to the 1600's and earlier. The cave is three miles south of San Marcos Pass. Take Highway 154 from Santa Barbara and turn right on Painted Cave Road. The cave is located on the left about two miles up a steep, narrow road. Parking is limited to two or three cars. RVs and trailers should not attempt the road.

Cachuma Lake: Flanked by the picturesque Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains, Cachuma Lake features camping facilities, boating, fishing, and nature watching boat tours.

Tranverse Ranges are mountains in Southern California with east-west trending. These Transverse Ranges include a series of east–west trending mountain ranges that extend from Point Conception at the western tip of Santa Barbara County, eastward (and a bit south) to the east end of the San Jacinto Mountains in western Riverside County. The Santa Ynez Mountains make up the westernmost ranges, extending from Point Conception to the Ventura River just west-northwest of Ojai, in Ventura County.


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