Santa Monica Mountains
National Recreation Area
1978: National Recreation Area
About the SiteThe Santa Monica mountains border and define northern Los Angeles. They range around Santa Monica Bay, offering good views of both the ocean and the city. The Park's establishment date of 1978 is deceiving; conservation efforts were underway long before then. The NRA is actually a conglomeration of lands belonging to many different agencies, including state parks, preserves and private recreation sites, military land that's closed to the public, and private property. As a matter of fact, the city of Malibu is completely enclosed by parkland!
What You're Going to SeeWell, where are you going to go? Take the Pacific Coastal Highway and you'll see beaches, coves, inlets (and Malibu). Point your car through the mountains, and you'll findlone valley oaks accentuating grassy hillsides. This is technically a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, damp winters.
Personal ObservationsOnce again, my time in the Treasure was limited. But I can recommend without reservation the Visitors Center located in Thousand Oaks. Spacious, well-stocked (Monopoly - National Parks Edition), and with a great view across the 101 Highway to the mountains of the Treasure, it's also staffed with National Parks employees who are more than willing to answer questions from beginners and experts alike. I even got a free pin, and a free CD extolling the virtues of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Getting ThereFrom Los Angeles, get on Highway 101 and go north/west. The NRA borders Los Angeles and famous cities such as Beverly Hills, Belair, Brentwood, Encino, and Westlake Village. The Visitors Center is located in Thousand Oaks. To get there, take the Highway 23 North exit, turn left/west onto Hillcrest Drive. There's a well-marked sign at 401 W. Hillcrest.
Nearby AttractionsJust a few miles to the west you'll find Channel Islands National Park. Of course, along the coast is California Coastal National Monument.