Top Ten Los Angeles Adventures

Mono Campground, Los Padres National Forest

A funny thing happens when you tell most Southern Californians that they have to drive 12 miles on an unpaved road to get somewhere: They don't go. Even if you promise them that what they'll find at the end of those 12 miles is a campground that's well worth the trip, most of them won't risk stressing the untested suspension on their shiny SUVs.

Let their folly be your gain. What you'll find at Mono Campground in Los Padres National Forest is a grassy meadow with a touch of chaparral and just enough oaks to shade you from the intense sun. Best of all, you'll wander down Mono Creek to one of the finest swimming holes in the Upper Santa Ynez River Valley. And you probably won't have to share it with anyone.

After a while, the happy tedium of hours spent reading and swimming and lounging and splashing may tempt you to take a hike. You can wander up the creek or follow a trail into the hills. Then reward yourself by taking the mile-long stroll northeast of the campground for a relaxing soak in Little Caliente Hot Springs.


Directions: Take Highway 101 north to Los Olivos, go north on Highway 154, and drive eight miles to East Camino Cielo. Turn right and drive 18 miles to Camuesa Road. Take this dirt road for 5 miles to Juncal Campground. Turn left and drive 7 more bumpy miles to Mono Campground.

Travel Time: Approximately 3 hours

Information: 805-967-3481

Reservations: No

Fee: Adventure Pass required for parking; no camping fee

Open: Year-round



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