Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve
The Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve is located at the northern edge of Santa Barbara County and is the southern end of an 18 mile complex of dunes that also includes the Oso Flaco Lake area and the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.
This is the place where Cecil B. DeMille filmed his 1923 version of the Ten Commandments. When he was done with filming he buried the sets to prevent them being re-used. There have been some successful attempts to locate and excavate these artifacts, yet many of the sets remain buried.
Some of these dunes reach over 500 feet high and are host to a number of interesting plant and animal species. The dunes are the preferred nesting environment for the Western Snowy Plover and the California Least Tern, both of which have done well with recent protections.
If you visit between March 1 and October 1, which is the nesting season, you’ll find numerous areas taped off to allow the birds undisturbed nesting.
For the same reason, no dogs are allowed on this beach, on leash or off.
Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Quick Facts
Address: 6350 W. Main Street (Clarence Minetti Memorial Road), Guadalupe (Main Street is the western extension of CA Highway 166 which can be accessed off the US Highway 101 in Santa Maria or from CA Highway 1 in Guadalupe)
Map: Google map to Guadalupe Dunes
Contact: County of Santa Barbara Parks Department, (805) 343-2354
GPS Coordinates: 34.9659 / -120.6502
Hours: 7:00 AM – Dusk
Activities: Beach access, bird and whale watching, fishing, hiking areas; picnics are permitted (no BBQs/cooking), interpretive kiosk and trailer. Seasonal restrictions during the bird nesting season (Mar 1 – Oct 1) apply and are posted onsite.
Accessibility: There are no trails in this park so wheelchair access is most likely limited to a beach wheelchair. You can see great expanses of the dunes from your car and there is level access onto the dunes. (source)
Interpretive Center: The center for the Dunes is not on site, but is located just a few miles back in Guadalupe.
Interpretive Center Address: 1055 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe, CA 93434 Google map
Interpretive Center Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Visiting the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve can either be a quick trip to view the dunes, or can be an adventurous hike down the beach.
Either way, it is worth the trip to take in this part of the largest dune complex in California.
Restaurants near the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes
After a day of hiking up and down the dunes you probably have worked up an appetite.
There are two highly-rated steak houses in the area:
Far Western Tavern
899 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe, CA
(805) 343-2211 · farwesterntavern.com
(Note: The Far Western is currently building a new site and will be relocating to Orcutt, just down Highway 1 from Guadalupe. Their site mentions “Spring 2012” as a completion date. A call is highly advised.)
Jocko’s Steak House
125 North Thompson Avenue, Nipomo, CA