Foxen Canyon

Foxen Canyon Road - A most beautiful back road drive in rural Santa Barbara County that combines the splendor of natural settings with history and wine tasting. A previous Photo of the Week selection.



Beautiful lupines line the road along Foxen Canyon
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The backroads of central California are among the most beautiful of all the scenic drives in the state. Foxen Road ranks high among these and is a favorite for many.

The cities that anchor this road are Santa Maria at its northwestern end and Los Olivos at it southeastern terminus.

Between them are over 30 miles of varied and gorgeous scenery, historical sites and a wealth of wineries and tasting rooms.

Satellite view of the Foxen Canyon area
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Foxen Canyon Road in Santa Barbara County


Foxen Canyon Road Quick Facts:

Location: Santa Barbara County

Northern end: Accessible via Betteravia Road exit off Highway 101. Betteravia becomes Foxen at Philbic Road. Coordinates here: 34.92343, -120.37404

Southern end: Foxen meets Highway 154 (San Marcos Pass Road) in Los Olivos. Coordinates here: 34.66806, -120.12293

Condition: Paved and well maintained county road. On some older maps it will be labelled as California Highway 176, but is no longer used for this road.

Considerations: No gas stations along this road; be sure to read my tips for driving back roads.

Information about Foxen Road wineries: Foxen Canyon Wine Trail site


An elevated view of the Santa Maria River valley and crops
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Our imaginary journey along Foxen Road will start at the northern end near Santa Maria.

You will be passing through flat fields which lend themselves to row crop agriculture such as the photo above.

You will pass through some quaint small towns which grew up around and still support that farming such as Garey and Sisquoc.

Both of these little towns have a general store, and while Sam Drucker may not be found here, someone of his type can be found behind the counter to help you find what you need.

Here is a video of the Sisquoc Store that the local news channel did a few years ago - it's on YouTube and opens in a new tab.

As you pass Sisquoc, you now begin to be in wine grape country as well as cattle country.

If you are touring wineries, your wine tasting along this road will begin or end here. But the scenery doesn't stop and there is always another vista to enjoy.

Vista of Foxen Canyon
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The lands here were originally Spanish or Mexican land grants. Explorers or soldiers were paid for their service to the government with large grants of land, sometimes totaling thousands of acres.

The name "Foxen" comes from William Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain. In 1831 he married the daughter of a grant holder and was himself given a neighboring grant of land, which is today the heart of the canyon that bears his name.

The Foxen family chapel now on the Rancho Sisquoc winery property
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Oaks on green hillsides in Foxen Canyon
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Santa Maria Valley wine trail sign
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Santa Maria Valley wine trail sign in the Foxen area

The Rancho Sisquoc tasting room
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Lupines closeup along Foxen Canyon
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We started this page with a great photo of lupines along this road. And now we will end with a closeup of those beautiful wildflowers.

Lupines are some of the prettiest of the Central California wildflowers and one of my favorites.

The winter of 2014 has finally provided some rain, and we may yet be graced with displays like this come Spring.


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Back Road Drives from Foxen Canyon

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Cambria winery tasting room on the Foxen wine trail
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