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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a great weekend getaway for nature lovers, offering an array of trails, scenic overlooks, and sunny beaches for exploring. Visitors can find a secluded mountain retreat with natural features such as coastal sage scrub and mixed chaparral, as well as some of the highest points in the Santa Monica Mountains. At the Ranger Contact Station, guests can get free maps and information about park led activities.


Are you searching for a weekend getaway with mountain overlooks and sunny, sandy beaches?

Your vacation destination may be a short drive from Los Angeles, California! Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area offers many opportunities to shake off the stresses of city life and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.


Travel one of the many trails that wind through this rare coastal Mediterranean ecosystem. The plants you see here, such as coastal sage scrub and mixed chaparral, are adapted to hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Keep an eye out for red shank chaparral, a tree-like shrub with reddish-brown bark, clusters of thread-like leaves, and small bunches of white flowers in July and August.

From the dry, rocky slopes near Sandstone Peak to the lush fern-studded Grotto, Circle X Ranch provides a wide variety of recreational possibilities. Linger here for a while, and experience the ambiance of this secluded mountain retreat.


Located below the Ranger Contact Station at Cirlce X Ranch. Check-in here with park staff before heading down to your campsite.

Natural Features

Tucked in the canyons above Malibu and nestled below majestic Boney Mountain, you will find Circle X Ranch. This former Boy Scout camp offers many opportunities for exploration and adventure. Journey to Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, and see several of the Channel Islands on a clear day. Enjoy a visit to the Grotto or a creekside picnic. Reserve the Group Camp and listen to coyote songs at night.

Nearby Attractions

Enjoy a visit to the Grotto or a picnic at the trailhead next to the campground. Grotto Trail 3.5 miles round trip, moderate to strenuous; no bikes, no horses. This trail traverses hillsides and leads down to the West Fork of the Arroyo Sequit. The trail is downhill from the Ranger Station, which means an uphill return. The Grotto area is rugged terrain; be careful and wear appropriate hiking attire. The last 1/8 mile is through an unimproved streambed and dogs are not allowed. The Ranger Contact Station can provide you with free hiking maps of Circle X Ranch. A publication of park-led activites for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is also available. Vists to nearby Malibu and the Pacific Ocean are just a short drive way.
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Campground Matrix

Set alerts at more campgrounds to increase your odds of getting a place to stay! Below is a list of the closest campgrounds supported on Campflare. Or, view all campgrounds in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Nearby Campgrounds Distance Notification Rate
Canyon Campground (Sites 25-77, 134-139)
Leo Carrillo State Park
3.9mi 86%
Canyon Campground (Sites 1-24, 78-133)
Leo Carrillo State Park
4.3mi 86%
Point Mugu State Park
5.1mi 91%
Headquaters Hookup (Sites 2-15)
Salton Sea State Recreation Area
5.1mi 75%
Thornhill Broome
Point Mugu State Park
5.7mi 92%
La Jolla Group
Point Mugu State Park
5.8mi 89%
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