El Capitan Canyon Resort...
camping in style!

Story & Photos by Ed Stone

Overview of the El Capitan Resort.

Recently, Jeff Brown was hiking the Bill Wallace Trail in the El Capitan Canyon Resort on the backside of the property.  He discovered something very unusual for this location…shark’s teeth.  Unusual?  Yes, these are six million year old teeth found some three miles from the Pacific Ocean and found some 200 feet above sea level.  Knowing the value of his find, Jeff wanted to make sure they were appreciated.  He gave them to the Chumash Indians who were the original settlers to the area.

For groups and families
El Capitan Canyon Resort is a very special get-away along the southern coast of California.  This is a resort setting for the person who appreciates the great outdoors.  Here is where both families and corporate executives find solace from the busy city and suburban life of Los Angeles, Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.  About 25 percent of the people coming to El Capitan are business groups from within a 250 mile radius.  Some groups will buyout the entire resort for team building weekends and business functions.

For families seeking a weekend get-away or a longer stay in the summer, here is the perfect place to enjoy an outing with lots of recreational options at reasonable prices.

Accommodations...Cabins or Safari Tents

Camping in the Canyon is not about pitching a tent in the dark, but enjoying nature comfortably.

For those groups, families, or executive visitors wanting the outdoor experience but not the hassle of packing a tent or all the shall we say, 'joy' of roughing it, El Capitan has made accomodations.  There are 100-luxury cedar cabins equipped with full bathrooms, linens, towels, kitchenettes, coffee pots, picnic tables, and even internet connections.  The deluxe cabins even sport an in-room Jacuzzi for soothing those aching muscles.

Camping in the Canyon is not about pitching a tent in the dark, but enjoying nature comfortably.  Among a grove of Oak and Sycamore trees, along El Capitan Creek, just across the way from the Pacific, you can pick from some 26 spacious 12' x 14' classic safari tents.  Built on raised wooden decks, that are furnished with comfortable queen beds and fluffy down comforters.  Close by each of the Safari tents are pristine bathroom facilities with showers. 

Firewood is available at the campground store and the outdoor fire pits are great for cooking a meal under the stars or as ambience to go with a bottle of wine and gazing into that special someone’s eyes.

This is a resort where guests can experience all the adventure and beauty nature has to offer in comfortable surroundings.

Lots of aminities for everyone

The El Capitan staff will assist you in planning a full array of day-trips from whale watching to wine tasting tours.

Throughout the year, groups and families come to enjoy this quiet location with its fabulous list of outdoor activities.  Exploring the beach, hiking the trails, biking, or lounging by the heated swimming pool (that's right, we said heated!) are just some of the treats El Cap has to offer.  Bikes are available at no charge on a first-come first-serve basis, ocean kayaking and surfing lessons can also be arranged.  The El Capitan staff will assist you in planning a full array of day-trips from whale watching to wine tasting tours.  For those looking for group activities, there’s yoga, story telling, botanical hikes and stargazing.
Horseback riding offers some of the most incredible views of this area.  The two-hour rides take guests through avocado groves, lemon orchards, past California Live Oaks and Sycamore trees all with the Santa Ynez Mountains as the backdrop.

Hiking at El Capitan Canyon Resort
There are 20 miles of hiking trails and five different trails on the El Capitan Resort property.  The Bill Wallace Trail Access Program is a partnership of California State Parks, El Capitan Canyon, Friends of Channel Coast State Park and Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. This initiative was developed to help promote public access to the 2,500-acre El Capitan Canyon backcountry.  Just maybe, you will find some six million year old shark teeth!

It is noteworthy that the educational programs, guided hikes and history, emphasizes this land as a sacred spot of the Chumash Indians.  The coastal Chumash were the original settlers and they are still very active in the area.

El Capitan Resort Canyon Environment & Philosophy Programs
When visiting this unique place, you will sense a total concern for the protection of the environment.  For instance, the watershed specific, “Native Vegetation Enhancement Project” creates or reestablishes the riparian buffer zone with native plant biodiversity.  The onsite nursery is maintained so plants can be grown from hand-collected seeds, cuttings and transplanted propagates of local canyon stock.

Even the heated swimming pool uses one of the most economical forms of energy available--solar.  El Capitan Canyon reduces its heating expense by an estimated 75% using free and renewable energy from the sun.  Solar energy is a clean, efficient form of energy.  It is safe for the environment, as well as safe for plants, animals and people.  Then there is the “Urban Timber Salvage and Recycle Program” which saves trees that could end up as firewood or in a chip yard.  When winter storms or old age brings an end to local or exotic flora, the fallen trees are transported to the El Capitan Canyon Workshop. There they take the shape of beautiful handmade picnic tables, posts, stairs, handrails, signs and even the interior material of the Canyon Market and Deli adding to its unique rustic and comfortable charm.

And, for the conservation of water, there is the “Collective Cooperation Water Conservation” that encourages El Capitan Canyon guests to participate in or to become conscious of water saving techniques, i.e., towel & linen washings are, per your request or every other day; limiting the use of Jacuzzis and showers per day; and, the use of drought tolerant native plants to beautify the landscape.

Lastly, the “Car Free Canyon” is a low impact environment enhancement program to encourage safety for pedestrians, wildlife, reduce noise and air pollution.  El Capitan Canyon offers a free shuttle service utilizing electric and gas vehicles, as well as complimentary bicycles for quick transportation throughout the canyon.

El Capitan State Park is nearby
El Capitan State Park is located just across Highway 101 from El Capitan Canyon.  This stretch represents the last 20 miles of undeveloped coastline in Southern California.  El Capitan Point is some of the best surfing in the area.

The El Capitan Resort property was settled originally by the Chumash Indians, then the Spanish occupied the land before giving it to the Catholic Church as a land grant.  Later, it was purchased for oil exploration and now a California entrepreneur, Roger Himovitz, owns it.  Most of the land around El Capitan is now in the Trust for Public Lands.

Just as Jeff Brown gave back to the Chumash Indians the six million year old shark’s teeth, the El Capitan Canyon Resort and its staff, is giving back to its guests a quiet, peaceful and calming experience.  Here you can enjoy an environmentally conscientious location with an outdoor experience unusual to find. 

For reservations and information, contact:

El Capitan Canyon Resort
11560 Calle Real
Santa Barbara CA 93117
Reservations: (866) 352-2729
Fax: (805) 968-6772
Website: http://www.elcapitancanyon.com
Email: info@elcapitancanyon.com

Driving Directions

Approaching El Capitan Canyon (Santa Barbara) from the south:
US Highway 101 north. Continue past Santa Barbara and Goleta. Exit El Capitan State Beach. Continue straight on frontage road, which is Calle Real. Entrance on right: El Capitan Canyon.

Approaching El Capitan Canyon (Santa Barbara) from the north:
US Highway 101 south. Continue past Buellton and Gaviota. Exit El Capitan State Beach. Turn left at stop sign (going under the freeway overpass, and heading towards the mountains). Turn left on Calle Real (frontage road). Entrance to Canyon on the right: El Capitan Canyon