Photo: Natalie Menacho

On the homeward leg of our Southwest Trip we made a quick stop in the Santa Ynez Mountains, which were pretty pleasant. We didn’t have time to hit the trails but if you’re looking for an interesting road in that area, my maps (and Google) show about 10 miles of dirt that run along the spine of the mountains northwest of Santa Barbara. The road is called West Camino Cielo (Forest Route 5N12). There’s also Arroyo Burro Road (Forest Route 5N20) directly north of Santa Barbara and east of Hwy. 154.

Towards the end of Gibraltar Road, before the reservoir, there’s a nice little swimming hole. See map for location. We weren’t the first ones to discover it. It’s a popular spot in the summer so unfortunately you’ll have to watch out for glass and bottle caps.

Photo: Nik Schulz

Another nice find on this trip was the Cold Spring Tavern. It began life as a stage coach stop in 1861 and it still looks the part. In fact it’s one of the most authentic old restaurants I’ve ever seen. I wished we’d had time to sample the menu. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the latter of which features dishes like “Charbroiled Elk Steak” and “Wild Boar Tenderloin.” Sounds amazing.

Photos: Nik Schulz

After that we headed to Natalie’s parents’ olive orchard, Olivas de Oro, in Paso Robles where we helped wrangle some of the lambs that live on the ranch — it was my first time as a lamb wrangler. And from there we headed north, and home, to Sonoma County, happy with all we’d seen.


We camped at Paradise campground off of Paradise Road. I don’t know if it was paradise but it was pretty nice.

Trail Ratings:

We didn’t take any trails on this trip, but if you drive the roads I mentioned, let me know how they were.


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