Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area -
Los Angeles County
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Los Angeles County,
California should seem out of place.
Located a short distance from
downtown Los Angeles and some of L.A.'s cities and communities such as Santa
Monica, Santa Monica Mountains NRA, is an amazing journey into a
Mediterranean ecosystem containing plants and wildlife in a semi-arid
climate near the Pacific Ocean. Santa Monica Mountains NRA runs nearly 50
miles distance from the Santa Monica Pier through Malibu and Point Mugu at
its western beach beginnings to the Hollywood Bowl. It contains
approximately 150,000 acres of land, plants, trees, animals, bugs, birds and
flowers in a wilderness setting.
Acting as a cooperative
partnership between federal, state & local park agencies and private
preserves, Santa Monica NRA is comprised of lands that include: Leo Carrillo
State Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Point Dume State Beach, Point Mugu
State Park, Topanga State Park and Will Rogers State Historic Park.
As you stand on Santa
Monica's Pacific Pier pleasure park with its Ferris Wheel and forever views,
to the south you see the hills of Rancho Palos Verdes and to the right in
closer view are the Santa Monica Mountains with their bluish cast. They rise
above Los Angeles, widen to meet the curve of Santa Monica Bay and reach
their peak facing the ocean. Seen throughout the Southern California seasons
in colors ranging from earthen tones of reddish-brown to blues and greens,
the mountains mostly contains broadleaf evergreens. Mixed with shrubs,
succulents and native plants, the warm Southern California climate in which
they are located provides a welcoming home to roughly 450 species of
vertebrate and 13 species of nesting raptors.
As you hike, bike, camp
and climb through the wilderness area in L.A.'s backyard, you may come
across a variety of wild animals such as bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes
and deer. Over 25 species of animal and invertebrates that call this
national recreation area home are listed as rare, threatened or endangered.
Once home to native
people such as the Chumash and Gabrielino/Tongva Indian tribes, the
mountains here and to the south in Rancho Palos Verdes provided the highest
vistas allowing tribes to communicate using smoke signals in a predecessor
to Morse code with its dots and dashes. Further south in Signal Hill, native
Americans sent smoke signals visible approximately 22 miles away in the
Catalina Islands. (Signal Hill once named the Bay of Smokes because of this
activity and today, you can visit a park atop Signal Hill to watch tall
sculptures release misty clouds that look like smoke, symbolizing the
region's early inhabitants.) Over 1000 archeological sites exist in the
Santa Monica National Recreation Area.
While earlier inhabitants
may have experienced their share of runaway fires, modern man is not immune
to nature's hand. Many fires have started in or near the Santa Monica SRA
and you'll see many caution signs when you visit, warning of fire danger
levels. Sometimes the simplest careless acts can create a disaster, burning
thousands of acres of dry forest land and even burning near by houses.
When you enter the parks in this system, the rules and regulations are
usually posted or rangers will be available to advise you.
Where to go: One place to begin your
visit to this wonderland of recreational opportunities is at the
National Park Visitor Center at 401 West Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks,
California. Call: (805) 370-2301 nps.gov
Where to stay: You
don't have to rough it when you visit the national
parks. Located next to swank Santa Monica with its
celebrities, and wealthy homes, museums and shops, some
of our Santa Monica favorite hotels include: Best
Western Gateway Hotel Santa Monica, 1920 Santa Monica
Blvd; Best Western Ocean View Hotel, 1447 Ocean Avenue
(this hotel is ocean close, and half the rooms overlook
the beach and Santa Monica Pier. It is one of the
affordable choices for beach access. Comfort Inn Santa
Monica, 2815 Santa Monica Blvd.
Holiday Inn Santa Monica Beach At The Pier 120 Colorado
Ave., Holiday Inn is a few blocks from the beach.
Casa Del Mar, 1910 Ocean Front Walk - like the names
says, you can walk on the ocean front near the ocean and
Santa Monica beaches.
Hotel Oceana 849 Ocean Avenue, is
across the street from the beach.
you need location, then this is a pretty good choice. Le
Merigot-A Jw Marriott Beach Hotel And Spa 1740 Ocean
Avenue, with great amenities and ocean views, plus this
nice hotel's strong point is the sense of community. Our
staff have tried it and found the people who work there
are absolutely beyond compare in their nice "can-do" and
Santa Monica Beach Hotel 1700 Ocean Ave. maintains the
boutique hotel branding Loews is known for. On my visit
the rooms were absolutely lovely, offering ocean views.
I had one small misunderstanding with the staff and was
unimpressed with how it was handled, but other than
that, I recommend the place.
Monica Beach Travelodge 1525 Ocean Avenue, is located
across the street from the beach. You save a few bucks
by staying there rather than on the ocean side of the
Shutters On The Beach, One Pico Boulevard is like it
says...on the beach. It's a great boutique property that
when you visit or wander by, people feel privileged.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel Santa Monica 101 Wilshire
Boulevard- this hotel offers five diamond quality. If
you can find it at a reasonable price, by all means book
it. The beach is just a block or two walk and the hotel
maintains its own aura of privacy.