Jalama Beach - Point Conception California
Jalama Beach is one of my favorite beaches in California. The coast in this part of the state can only be accessed via Jalama Beach (Santa Barbara) County Park. The park itself is very small. It is sandwiched between Vandenberg Airforce Base to the North and a large private ranch to the South. As a result, the coastline is undeveloped for tens of miles in both directions. It takes a little time and effort to get to the park so it's usually not super crowded. Walking a few miles along the beach in either direction is enough to get away from the people who are there. South of the park, beyond a popular surf break, the cliffs and rocks ooze thick black tar. This naturally occurring oil is more abundant here than any other place I've been. Sulfur yellow rocks are also common on this part of the beach. Several massive concrete walls were built along the beach South of the park in the distant past. These look like ancient fortifications but were actually built to prevent erosion and protect the railroad tracks above. There are some old tunnels and other structures related to this beach erosion project on the bluff above the ocean. The tracks above the beach are used by the Amtrack Coast Starlight which whizzes by occasionally. Heading South out of the park, access by foot is blocked by cliffs more or less directly beneath the Point Conception lighthouse. This is about 5 miles from the park. You can't see the lighthouse very well from the beach but the walk there, passing through several beautiful, empty coves is incredible. All of the land above the bluffs is private property and visitors to Jalama Beach Park are told that they will be charged with trespassing if they leave the beach.
The campground at Jalama Park is a little crowded (small sites) but nice. All the campsites are very close to the beach. There are also cabins for rent at the park. The park has a small store and restaurant in its center. Otherwise the closest shopping or services to the park are 35 miles of very winding road away in Lompoc. It's 15 miles from highway 1 to the park on Jalama road. There is a sign at the intersection of 1 and Jalama Rd. that warns that the campground is full (everytime I've seen it). Every time I've been, that has not been true. You can't make reservations for campsites nor is there anyway to find out if the campground is actually full other than going to look for yourself. You can make reservations for cabins. I think the sign might help keep the campground from filling up in which case I guess it's a good thing. There are many hotels in Lompoc if the campground is full. The closest other campground I know of is the really horrible one at Graviota State Park.