Highway 1: Part 2 (Ventura to Montana De Oro)

After leaving Ventura, Paige and I headed north on the “1” towards Santa Barbara. We had a leisurely paced drive ahead of us and planned to see a few sites along the way before arriving at our campsite in Montana De Oro State Park. After driving through the quaint main street we made our way to the historic Santa Barbara Mission. It was a quiet Labor Day morning, all the shops were closed on our drive in so we needed something to do. We walked around the site as the warm California sun broke through the cool of the morning.

Founded in 1786, the church was completed in 1820 and then destroyed by earthquake 100 years later. The present structure was resorted in 1927 and in 1953.

After grabbing a bite to eat at a delicious brunch spot called Dawn Patrol we headed further north through the Santa Barbara mountains and towards Santa Ynez. The Santa Clara wine country is lesser known than its Napa and Sonoma areas but said to be better in some capacities, so since we would be driving through it, wanted to make a point to stop. Our Channel Islands guide recommended a newly opened, hip wine tasting room and it sounded perfect for us. The vineyard was Alma Rosa and they are renown for their quality wines and sustainable practices. We stopped there to taste a portion of their assorted reds, rosés, and whites. I can’t call myself a wine aficionado but the wines we tasted were outstanding.

Alma Rosa Winery, tasting room in Buellton, California in the Santa Ynez Valley

After leaving we drove through San Luis Obispo and stopped briefly to gas up the whip and restock on food at a nearby Trader Joes. Our next pin drop would be at our campsite in Montana De Oro for the night.

I was not sure what to expect and had booked this spot a week or two prior to the trip. The government websites for state parks are generally pretty poorly designed and hard to navigate. Luckily I found Hip Camp which is a great resource for booking sites on both private and government land. Their goal is, as it states on their site, “committed to making getting outside fun and easy, as simple as selecting what, when and where you want your camping experience to be.” I highly recommend anyone planning to book a campsite in the U.S. I first came across their site in this great article from Outside Magazine, Seven Ideas Shaping the Future of Travel. Definitely worth the read and offers multiple resources for traveling.

Driving into Montana De Oro we were amazed with the landscape. The winding road made its way along high cliffs, up and down coastal dunes, and through eucalyptus forests before we arrived at the campground entrance. After selecting out site from the 15 or so available we made our way down to the beach. There was a large rock just off the beach that juts up right off the beach where the waves break and you can climb to the top. We limbered up the worn sandstone path to its hundred vertical foot peak (at most). The view was incredible. Looking out of the cove across the vast Pacific ocean was captivating.

After grabbing a bite to eat back at camp we grabbed a couple beers and headed back up to catch the sunset.

The night was cold and quiet, most of the campground didn’t stir after 9pm or so. It was a perfect opportunity to gaze up at some of the clearest views of our galaxy I’d ever seen.


The next morning we woke up and went for a walk along the nearby cliffs. The one-hundred-or-so foot rock walls overlooked the cove we watched the sunset the night before. Winding around the coast we rock-hopped our wave down the water and watches the waves crash into the jagged shoreline.

Pictured above are the highly-recommended, Under Armour Speed Fit boots. Throughout the trip Paige and myself put these lightweight hikers to the test.

Its amazing how memorizing it can be to stare at waves breaking against the rocks. I think we could have easily done this all day but after a couple hours of exploring we packed up the van and continued on.

Next Up: Part 3, Montana De Oro to Big Sur.


Originally published at Adam Johnson | Graphic Designer.