Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

RV Rental Dates


Consider exploring the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, an ideal destination for an outdoor vacation. The area’s heritage is closely tied to the indigenous Chumash and Tongva peoples who inhabited these lands for thousands of years, leaving behind a legacy of ancient settlements, artifacts, and sacred sites. Today, the park preserves and honors its cultural heritage, offering visitors an opportunity to connect with the past and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s native history. This park provides easy access to renowned attractions like Malibu’s stunning beaches, historic ranches featured in past films, and centers displaying Native American artifacts and history. Nestled in the state’s second-largest metropolitan region, it houses numerous parks and camping facilities, including Griffith Park, the National Forest, and Whitestone National Park.

In 2018, the Woolsey Fire struck the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, becoming the largest recorded fire in the region, devastating up to 40 percent of the area. Although the park is recovering, some sections remain closed.

The climate in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is Mediterranean, characterized by mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Visitors can expect pleasant temperatures during the spring and fall, making these seasons ideal for outdoor activities. However, during the summer, temperatures can soar, and wildfires are a concern due to the region’s arid conditions.

For RV renters planning to visit the park, it is essential to take precautions for a safe and enjoyable trip. Be sure to check for park alerts and fire danger warnings before heading out. Stay informed about closures and road conditions, especially if certain sections of the park are still recovering from the Woolsey Fire. Always carry sufficient water and supplies, as some areas within the park may be remote and lack facilities.

RV renters at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area can indulge in a plethora of outdoor activities. The park offers excellent opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and wildflower viewing. The vast network of trails caters to all skill levels, ensuring a memorable experience for every adventurer.

The park offers several RV-friendly campgrounds, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature and spend more time exploring. Some campgrounds may have amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings, while others may offer more basic facilities. It is advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure a spot.

Park Alerts (2)

The presence of multiple beehives in the area has been causing disruptions to visitor use and park services, leading to several reported bee stings, particularly at the junction of the main trail and TRW Overlook Trail. To address this issue, a bee specialist will be removing the hives. The closure will remain in effect until further notice.

A trailhead improvement project is scheduled from September 19, 2022, until summer 2023, affecting the entire vicinity around the regular Cheeseboro parking lot. During this period, the regular parking lot will be closed, but an alternate temporary parking lot is available off Chesebro Road. Fortunately, access to the trails will still be possible. All visitors are requested to observe and follow posted signs and directions during this time.

RV Rentals in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


Visitors can access Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by driving. The route to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area from Malibu, CA spans 10 miles. Different entrances can be reached via CA-1 S, Kanan Dume Road, and Latigo Canyon Rd. To commence your journey, turn right onto CA-1 S. Then, take another right onto Kanan Dume Road. When you come across the sign for Latigo Canyon Rd, bear right once more. Finally, make a right onto Upper Ramirez Mtwy, where you will find the park on the right side of the road. There are restrictions on rig sizes.Detours are clearly marked, but it is advisable to allocate extra time to avoid arriving late.

Parking options for RVs are available at the park entrance and designated areas. Overnight parking outside of designated campsites is generally not permitted. Camping with an RV in the park and exploring using alternative transportation methods is recommended.

There is no public transportation, such as shuttle buses or walking paths, available for getting around Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Campgrounds and parking areas in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

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Season-specific experiences in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Private Campgrounds

There are privately-owned campgrounds located in the vicinity of the national recreation area. These campgrounds may offer RV-friendly sites with various amenities such as hookups, showers, and recreational facilities. RV renters can inquire about availability and make reservations at these private campgrounds to secure a camping spot. An example is the Circle X Ranch Group Campground. This camping facility is available year-round, specifically for tent camping, and does not allow RVs. To secure a spot, reservations are recommended, with the sites accommodating groups of 10 people or more. The campground can host a total of 10 to 75 people. On-site amenities comprise drinking water from a pump and pit toilets. Families are welcome to bring their dogs along to the campsite, but it is essential to keep them leashed during their stay.

Season-specific experiences in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Rock Climbing

The area offers excellent opportunities for rock climbing, with popular spots like Stoney Point Park for bouldering and top-rope climbing. Echo Cliffs is another favorite destination with trad and sport climbing routes. Climbers of all levels can enjoy the unique rock formations and beautiful views.

Mountain Climbing

While the mountains may not be as towering as others, climbers can still challenge themselves with the ascent of Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the range. The hike along the Mishe Mokwa Trail provides rewarding experiences and stunning landscapes. Safety precautions and checking weather conditions are essential for a successful climb.

Paramount Ranch

During winter, RV campers can step back in time at Paramount Ranch, a historic movie set with a Wild West theme. The well-preserved buildings and rustic scenery create a fascinating atmosphere for photography and exploration. It is situated in Agoura Hills, CA.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

Fall is a perfect time for cycling and mountain biking in the Santa Monica Mountains. Cyclists can enjoy scenic road routes like Mulholland Highway and Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Mountain bikers can explore thrilling trails at Point Mugu State Park and Malibu Creek State Park, offering stunning views and challenging terrain.


Fall is an ideal season for hiking with cooler temperatures and vibrant fall colors. Hikers can ascend Sandstone Peak via the Mishe Mokwa Trail for breathtaking views. The Solstice Canyon Trail leads to a serene waterfall, while the Paramount Ranch Loop Trail provides a glimpse into history. Zuma Ridge Trail offers ocean vistas, and Satwiwa Loop Trail combines culture and nature. Visitors should adhere to safety guidelines while enjoying the diverse landscapes and fall beauty.

Cultural Events and Festivals

Cultural events and festivals provide visitors with opportunities to connect with the region’s rich history and diverse heritage. The Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center hosts various programs, including interpretive talks, storytelling, and traditional dance performances, offering insights into Native American cultures. The Native American Festival at Rancho Sierra Vista showcases crafts, music, and dance, while “Culture Days” at King Gillette Ranch feature live music, art exhibits, and historic tours. Outdoor workshops and demonstrations highlight traditional crafts and wildlife tracking. Visitors should check the park’s official website or visitor centers for up-to-date event information to enjoy these enriching experiences while surrounded by the area’s stunning natural landscapes.

Malibu Beach Adventure

During the summer, RV campers can indulge in a Malibu Beach Adventure, as the beautiful Malibu beaches are only a short drive away. Visitors can choose from a variety of beaches, many of which offer lifeguard services and concession stands. Whether surfing the waves or sunbathing with a book, the sandy shores provide a perfect setting for relaxation and fun. Bring along your surfboard to catch a wave or recline along the shore to work on your suntan while devouring the latest bestseller. Some beaches allow leashed dogs to join their owners, making it a pet-friendly experience.

Picnicking with Scenic Views

The summer season is perfect for picnicking in the park’s picturesque surroundings. RV campers can choose from multiple national parks and natural preserves within the area, finding ideal spots to spread out picnic blankets or use available picnic tables. With the Santa Monica Mountains as a backdrop, families can savor delicious meals while capturing picture-perfect views with their cameras.

Horseback Riding

Spring is an excellent time for horseback riding in the Santa Monica Mountains. RV campers can explore the diverse terrain with its vast network of trail systems. By grabbing a trail map from the visitor’s center, riders can chart their course for a relaxing day out in the backcountry. The beauty of the region offers breathtaking views, making frequent stops a must to capture stunning landscapes.

Wildflower Hikes

Spring brings vibrant wildflowers to the Santa Monica Mountains, creating a colorful spectacle for hikers. RV campers can embark on wildflower hikes along trails like the Mishe Mokwa Trail and Backbone Trail, where the blooming flora adds an extra touch of beauty to the landscape. This season provides ample opportunities for nature photography and enjoying the scenery.

Culture Days at King Gillette Ranch

Located in Calabasas, California, King Gillette Ranch occasionally hosts “Culture Days,” celebrating the area’s cultural diversity and historical significance. RV campers can participate in activities like live music performances, art exhibitions, guided tours of historic buildings, and cultural demonstrations. This event offers a unique way to engage with the park’s heritage while enjoying its scenic setting.