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Credit 1 Pam Starr
2 Alyn Robert Brereton
3 Julie MacKinnon
4 Linda Pittman
5 Parham Pourahmad
6 Larry Whiting
7 Randall Finley
Visitation: 70,000
Area: 600 Acres
Lat: 34.972327
Lon: 120.572269
Nearby Services
Gas-Guadalupe, CA, 5 MilesFood-Guadalupe, CA, 5 MilesLodging-Santa Maria, CA, 10-15 Miles
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Top Banner Photo Credits
Pam Starr
Alyn Robert Brereton
Julie MacKinnon
Linda Pittman
Parham Pourahmad
Larry Whiting
Randall Finley
Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve - Site # 293
Breathtaking habitats associated with the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, noted as the most unique and fragile ecosystem in the state
PremiumPremium - the most significant sites, worth visiting if you have limited time. Premium sites have high wildlife values year-round, staff on site, interpretive programs and/or displays, and well-developed facilities.

Background: An estimated 70,000 visitors enjoy the Preserve each year for passive recreation activities such as hiking, fishing, picnicking, and bird watching. It is one of the few publicly (and handicapped) accessible spots on the coast where visitors can experience the raw and surreal beauty of the ocean and dune environs. Area provides grazing for deer herds.
The preserve is designated by the Department of Interior as part of a National Natural Landmark and from the beach the rocks and islands that are part of the California Coastal National Monument can be observed.
Native american shell middens. The historic 'The Ten Commandments' film site (Cecil B. DeMille) is buried beneath the dunes.

The Habitat: Dune and beach habitats-70%
Scrub habitat-15%
Riparian/wetland/open water-15%

The Experience: The Preserve includes approximately 1.5 miles of beach along the Pacific Ocean, a section of the Santa Maria River estuary, and the breathtaking habitats associated with the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, noted by USFWS in the 1980s as the most unique and fragile ecosystem in the state (The Nature Conservancy, 1999). Multiple sensitive species make their home at the Preserve, including the federally endangered California least tern, brown pelican, la graciosa thistle, and state threatened western snowy plover.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: From car or walk along beach or through dunes (Oct-Feb.). Beach access is easy, dune access is easy-intermediate.

Viewing Tips: Nesting bird species include California least tern, western snowy plover. The Santa Maria River mouth is important birding location. Year round birding and wildlife associated with Guadalupe-Nipomo-Dunes and Santa Maria River (tracks, amphibians, mammals, birds. Beach use/hiking (March-Oct/weekends)
-surf perch fishing derbies (Summer-October)

Site Notes: The beautiful and surreal Guadalupe Dunes stretch more than a mile to meld into the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the few publicly accessible places on the central coast where you can walk and experience the stillness and majesty of the dunes and truly feel surrounded by nature. There is a verdant swath of riparian habitat along the nothern boundary of the preserve, which hosts a variety of bird species.

Nearby Viewing Sites: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS)
Oso Flaco Lake
Paradise Beach

Festivals & Events: 

Visitor Information: Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce Visitor - 800/331-3779, extension - http://www.santamaria.com
Viewing Site Hours of Operation are:
Staff On-site: Yes
Open: Everday
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Year Round: Yes
Seasonal: Only the beach and areas along the access road are open to the public March 1-Oct.1 due to endangered/threatened nesting birds. Temporary closures may occur due to sand removal from the access road, call 805-343-2354 to check status. In addition only the beach area and the access road are open due to nesting concerns for several listed species.

Road Information:   Paved. 
Road Hazards: Caution should be used due to farm equipment on the roads within the local communities and the roads are two lane. The road to the site is paved. Caution on speed due to blind curves and drifting sand on the road.
Rare road closures can occur due to storm and sand events.
 Number of Parking Spaces: 45
Parking Fee: Yes
Proximity to viewing area:1 foot
 Pull-Through Parking: No
Parking Danger: A $3.00 donation fee for entry is appreciated. Parking limited to designated lot (no off road parking). Watch for edestrians/bicyclists as road often one lane.

Special Tips: The Dunes Center is an excellent first stop.
The Dunes Center, 1055 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe, CA, 93434. (805)343-2455
Hours of Operation: Thursday-Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm.
Website: www.dunescenter.org

How to Get There: The town of Guadalupe is intersected by Hwy 1 and 166. Take Hwy 166 5 miles to the west. It terminates at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve.
From the north on Highway 110 exit onto Highway 1 south, you will travel through Guadalupe where the Dunes Visitor Center is located. Passing through Guadalupe you will reach the Dune Preserve Road south of town turn right for approximately 5 miles to the kiosk entry.

Contact Information
Managing Agency: Santa Barbara County Parks/Center for Natural La
Agency Site URL: https://www.countyofsb.org/parks/day-use/rancho-guadalupe-dunes.sbc
Physical Address:6999 West Main Street
Santa Barbara County, CA 93434
Agency 2:PO Box 97
Guadalupe, CA 93434
Manager Phone:805-431-1389/805-701-4517 Contact Us:by Email
Site Phone:805-343-2354
County: Santa Barbara
Addition Website: