Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Rugged, picturesque, and filled with trails, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) brings together adventurers from all over Southern and Central California.  Throughout the National Recreation Area there are beautiful views of stunning and colorful rock formations, as well as the ocean, together with exciting hiking, rock climbing and other activities.

As shown on the map, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area consists of many distinct areas (sometimes referred to as habitat protecting “mosaic pieces”), which are nestled between state parks (Topanga, Malibu and Point Mugu State Parks) and private property. The SMMNRA has various canyons and crests that can be accessed from numerous trailheads, cultural resources, and a wide variety of plant and animal species, including mountain lions, bobcats, merlins and more than 450 other vertebrate species.

Although significantly impacted by the Woolsey Fire, SMMNRA is showing substantial regeneration, and remains an exceptional place to visit.



Between Pacific Coast Highway and Highway 101 north of Santa Monica, Visitor Center at 26876 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas

Managed By

National Park Service

Distance from UCSB

Approximately 70 miles, depending on where visiting

How To Get There

Drive, Bike, Bus (depending on entrance point)

Things To Do

Biking (mountain), Birdwatching, Hiking, Historic/Cultural Interest, Horse Back Riding, Other Recreational Activities (Rock Climbing); Picnicking, Relaxing, Running (trail), Viewing, Walking, Watchable Wildlife.

Fun Facts

There are significant archeological Chumash and Tongva resources in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA, numbering over 1,000 sites, including outstanding pictographs. More recent historical sites are also contained within the NRA, including the Western Town at Paramount Ranch, which is on the National Historic Register.

Other Information

Admission to the National Recreation Area is free.

There is a comprehensive Butterfly Field Guide; Bird checklist;   and All Species checklist. For more information about the mammals of SMNRA, click here.

Favorite Hikes: Solstice Canyon; Mishe Mokwa/Split Rock/Tri-Peaks/Sandstone Peak loop with spurs; and for a very strenuous 65 mile one-way hike, there is the Backbone Trail.

Best Time To Visit

Fall, Winter, Spring

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