|San Rafael Wilderness|
|Location||Santa Barbara County, California, United States|
|Nearest city||Santa Barbara, California|
|Area||197,380 acres (799 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
The San Rafael Wilderness is a wilderness area in the mountains of north central Santa Barbara County, California, United States. It is north of the city of Santa Barbara and east of Santa Maria within the Los Padres National Forest. Formed in 1968, it was the first wilderness area to be created from a previously designated Primitive Area after the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. It also includes the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary, created in 1937, which is the oldest designated sanctuary for the large endangered birds.
Most of the wilderness lies between the crests of two parallel mountain ranges, the San Rafael Mountains and Sierra Madre Mountains, and includes the drainages of two watercourses: the Sisquoc River and Manzana Creek. Both flow to the northwest, eventually joining together and draining into the ocean near Santa Maria. Elevations within the wilderness vary from 1,166 feet (355 m) at the confluence of Manzana Creek and the Sisquoc River on the western boundary, to over 6,800 feet (2,100 m) at Big Pine Mountain, the highest point in Santa Barbara County. Dividing the drainages of the Manzana and Sisquoc is a ridge known as Hurricane Deck, a rugged 15-mile (24 km) slab of upthrust sandstone with a trail snaking along the top.
Rock formations in the wilderness are predominantly sedimentary, and are of Miocene and Cretaceous age. Both the Nacimiento and Big Pine Faults run through the wilderness, roughly parallelling the Sierra Madre and San Rafael Mountain crests respectively. Hurricane Deck is a single block of Miocene-age sedimentary rock. Immediately south of the wilderness, opposite the Big Pine and Camuesa Faults, is a large region of the Franciscan Formation. Mercury was formerly mined in this area, and abandoned mines along with tailings piles can be found.
The climate of the wilderness is Mediterranean, although the distance from the coast allows for cooler winters and hotter summers than are found in the coastal strip. Snow is common on the higher peaks in the winter, although it rarely lingers except on north-facing slopes. Rain is extremely rare in the summer, and dry lightning from the occasional thunderstorms can start fires.
The typical vegetation in the wilderness is chaparral and oak woodland, although there are stands of pine and fir at higher elevations and on north-facing slopes, as well as riparian forests in the streams. The river valleys open out in a few places to allow for meadows and grasslands; these are the locations that were settled in the 19th century. 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary, in the southeastern part of the wilderness, was chosen for its inaccessible terrain, which includes rock ledges favored by condors for nesting sites. Public entry is prohibited in the Sanctuary.Wildlife that may be encountered in the wilderness includes coyotes, black bears, and mountain lions. The California condor can occasionally be seen, since the endangered bird was released back into the wild in 1992. The
The region has been continuously inhabited by humans for over 10,000 years. Rock art by the resident Chumash Indians is scattered across the region; locations of rock paintings are generally not made public for fear of vandalism.
In the 1880s, a group of about 200 faith healers, led by Hiram Preserved Wheat (1822–1903), settled along the Sisquoc River in about 20 separate homesteads. The ruins of their habitations, including the "Manzana Schoolhouse," can be seen to the present day. At the time, they were mistakenly called "Mormons," and the error has been preserved in the name of one campsite along the Sisquoc River in the central part of the wilderness. They built the schoolhouse in 1893, but by 1902 it was closed, and most of the group had left.After the faith healers had left, another settler, Charles Dabney, built a cabin for himself and his family in 1914; it can be seen on a terrace above Manzana Creek.
The wilderness is often closed to entry during fire season, the exact dates of which vary but usually include the late summer and early fall. Most of the wilderness was burned in the 1966 Wellman Fire, and during July, August, and September 2007, the western, southern, and eastern parts of the wilderness were burned for the first time in 41 years (for the western portion) and for more than 100 years (for the remainder), in the Zaca Fire.
At its creation in 1968 the San Rafael Wilderness consisted of only 149,170 acres (604 km2). Originally it was the San Rafael Primitive Area. Due to a disagreement between the Forest Service, US Congress and conservationists over 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) of natural grass openings called portreros, which contained pictographs from the Chumash Indians, it took a long time for the wilderness designation. In 1992, after the passage of the Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act, Congress added an additional 48,210 acres (195 km2) adjacent to the original area on the northwest. The wilderness is also adjacent to the Dick Smith Wilderness to the east; this protected area was created in 1984.
The Angeles National Forest (ANF) of the U.S. Forest Service is located in the San Gabriel Mountains and Sierra Pelona Mountains, primarily within Los Angeles County in southern California. The ANF manages a majority of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The San Rafael Mountains are a mountain range in central Santa Barbara County, California, U.S., separating the drainages of the Santa Ynez River and the Santa Maria River. They are part of the Transverse Ranges system of Southern California which in turn are part of the Pacific Coast Ranges system of western North America.
The Sierra Madre is a mountain range primarily in northern Santa Barbara County and extending into northwestern Ventura County in Southern California, western United States. It is a range of the Inner South Coast Ranges group, and is the southernmost reach of the California Coast Ranges, which are themselves part of the Pacific Coast Ranges of western North America.
Los Padres National Forest is a United States national forest in southern and central California. Administered by the United States Forest Service, Los Padres includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey, extending inland. Elevations range from sea level to 8,847 feet (2,697 m).
Mount Pinos is a mountain located in the Los Padres National Forest on the boundary between Ventura and Kern counties in California. The summit, at 8,847 feet (2,697 m), is the highest point in Ventura County. The mountain is the highest point of the Transverse Ranges west of Tejon Pass, as well as the southernmost point of the Salinian Block.
The Topatopa Mountains are a mountain range in Ventura County, California, north of Ojai, Santa Paula, and Fillmore. They are part of the Transverse Ranges of Southern California.
Sespe Creek is a stream, some 61 miles (98 km) long, in Ventura County, southern California, in the Western United States. The creek starts at Potrero Seco in the eastern Sierra Madre Mountains, and is formed by more than thirty tributary streams of the Sierra Madre and Topatopa Mountains, before it empties into the Santa Clara River in Fillmore.
The Cuyama River is a 118-mile-long (190 km) river in southern San Luis Obispo County, northern Santa Barbara County, and northern Ventura County, in the U.S. state of California. It joins the Sisquoc River forming the Santa Maria River. The river's name comes from an Indian village named for the Chumash word kuyam, meaning "clam" or "freshwater mollusk".
The Sisquoc River is a westward flowing river in northeastern Santa Barbara County, California. It is a tributary of the Santa Maria River, which is formed when the Sisquoc River meets the Cuyama River at the Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County border just north of Garey. The river is 57.4 miles (92.4 km) long and originates on the north slopes of Big Pine Mountain, at approximately 6,320 feet (1,930 m). Big Pine Mountain is part of the San Rafael Mountains, which are part of the Transverse Ranges.
The Chumash Wilderness is a 38,150 acres (15,440 ha) wilderness area within the southern Los Padres National Forest. It is located in the Transverse Ranges, in northern Ventura County and southwestern Kern County in California.
The Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest is a federally designated wilderness area located in the Santa Lucia Range along the Central Coast of California. This wilderness was established in 1969 when the Ventana Wilderness Act redesignated the 55,800-acre (22,600 ha) Ventana Primitive Area as the Ventana Wilderness and added land, totalling 98,000 acres (40,000 ha). In 1978, the Endangered American Wilderness Act added 61,000 acres (25,000 ha), increasing the total wilderness area to about 159,000 acres (64,000 ha). The California Wilderness Act of 1984 added about 2,750 acres (1,113 ha). The Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act of 1992 created the approximately 14,500-acre (5,900 ha) Silver Peak Wilderness and added about 38,800 acres (15,700 ha) to the Ventana Wilderness in addition to designating the Big Sur River as a Wild and Scenic River. The Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002 expanded the wilderness for the fifth time, adding nearly 35,000 acres (14,000 ha), increasing the total acreage of the wilderness to its present size of 240,026 acres (97,135 ha).
The Dick Smith Wilderness is a wilderness area in the mountains of eastern Santa Barbara County, California, United States, with a portion in Ventura County. It is completely contained within the Los Padres National Forest, and is northeast of the city of Santa Barbara and north of the city of Ojai. It is most easily accessible from two trailheads off State Route 33, which runs north from Ojai. It is adjacent to the large San Rafael Wilderness on the west and the Matilija Wilderness on the south. Across Highway 33 to the east, and also in the Los Padres National Forest, is the large Sespe Wilderness.
The Silver Peak Wilderness is located in the southwestern corner of Monterey County in the Santa Lucia Mountains along the Central Coast of California. It southern boundary largely follows the Monterey County/San Luis Obispo County line. Its eastern boundary is defined by Ft. Hunter Liggett, while on the west it follows closely along Highway 1 and the Big Sur coastline. It is one of ten wilderness areas within the Los Padres National Forest and managed by the US Forest Service.
The Garcia Wilderness is a 14,100-acre (57 km2) wilderness area within the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo County, California.
Hurricane Deck is a short mountain range in Santa Barbara County, California in the Los Padres National Forest. The range lies entirely in the San Rafael Wilderness and separates the drainages of the main stem of the Sisquoc River from its tributary, Manzana Creek. It is the northernmost subrange of the San Rafael Mountains; to the north lies the Sierra Madre Mountains.
The Sespe Wilderness is a 219,700-acre (88,900 ha) wilderness area in the eastern Topatopa Mountains and southern Sierra Pelona Mountains, within the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF), in Ventura County, Southern California. The wilderness area is primarily located within the Ojai and Mt. Pinos ranger districts of the LPNF.
Sisquoc Falls is a large plunge type waterfall located in the San Rafael Mountains of Santa Barbara County, California, about 65 miles (105 km) east of Santa Maria. It is located in the backcountry of the San Rafael Wilderness on Falls Canyon Creek, a tributary of the Sisquoc River.
The Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act of 1992 is a Federal law that established five new designated Wilderness Areas and three new designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and Angeles National Forest in California. The law was sponsored by California Republican and Ventura County native Robert J. Lagomarsino while he represented California's 19th District in the United States House of Representatives. The legislation was cosponsored by Democratic and Republican representatives from districts representing the entirety of the Los Padres National Forest.
The Matilija Wilderness is a 29,207-acre (11,820 ha) wilderness area in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, Southern California. It is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, being situated within the Ojai Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest. It is located adjacent to the Dick Smith Wilderness to the northwest and the Sespe Wilderness to the northeast, although it is much smaller than either one. The Matilija Wilderness was established in 1992 in part to protect California condor habitat.
Sespe Hot Springs are a system of thermal springs and seeps that form a hot spring creek in the mountains near the Sespe Condor Sanctuary near Ojai, California.