Travel in the Santa Lucias

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.” – Walt Whitman

To the casual observer, the Ventana Wilderness looks like nothing more than a bunch of drab, brush covered hills … and that’s exactly what the Ventana Wilderness is.

Very steep and rugged hills, to be sure, but this is no alpine paradise. There are no vast coniferous forests dotted with sparkling lakes or soaring walls of glacier-polished granite. This is not the Sierra Nevada, the Bugaboos or the Hindu Kush. The highest peaks top out at less than 6,000 ft.

But look more closely. Insanely steep ridges drop into narrow canyons and gorges. Streams descend waterfall by waterfall into deep, redwood lined valleys while, high above, fire scourged groves of pine, madroño and oak jut out like islands in a vast, shimmering sea of brush and sliding rock.

The rock is too rotten to tempt the climber. There’s rarely enough of a snowpack to tempt the skier. It’s a difficult and discouraging place to hunt or fish. Most of the trails are overgrown and hard to follow. It’s brutally hot in the summer and miserably cold in the winter.

And that’s only the beginning. For more discouraging information see our Warnings and Words to the Wise.

Still interested in visiting the Santa Lucias?

Well OK then. You’re on. To find out what Santa Lucia destinations are right for you, take our handy


1) My idea of a great wilderness experience is partying naked with as big a crowd as possible at a hot springs far enough away from civilization that no one has to worry about the cops.

Agree? Sykes Camp is your preferred destination.

Disagree? Continue quiz.

2) When traveling in the wilderness it’s important to bring a GPS unit (to keep from getting lost), a satellite phone (in case of emergency), a 4-season tent (because a storm can hit at any time of year), a water filter (because even the most pristine spring water might possibly be harboring giardia), long pants and sturdy boots (because wearing shorts and sneakers or sandals when snakes or ticks might be about is crazy), at least one friend (because traveling alone in the wilderness is stupid), and the biggest, heaviest and most detailed guidebook available (because the more data you have on hand, the better your chances of survival).

Agree? Pat SpringPine Valley, Pico Public Camp and Vicente Flat are your preferred destinations.

Disagree? Continue Quiz.

3) I go to the wilderness to escape from the pressures of life in the city and especially from the pressures created by having to deal with other people. For me, the wilderness is primarily a quiet place where I can be with myself for a while. I like to travel light and I like to travel alone. I don’t mind putting up with bad trails if it means I won’t be rubbing shoulders with other people.

Agree? South Fork CampLone Pine CampRattlesnake Camp are your preferred destinations.

Disagree? Continue Quiz.

4) My buddies and I go to the wilderness to ride our horses, shoot off our guns, get away from our wives, and most of all, to get really, really drunk.

Agree? Round RockBig Pines and Cold Springs are your preferred destinations.

Disagree? Continue Quiz.

5) I go to the wilderness because I want to spend time in a place that hasn’t been mediated for me by architects and urban planners. I want to see what direct experience of the natural world has to teach me. I want to feel myself slow to the natural pace of the landscape. I want to taste the ripe berries and drink the cold water straight from the spring. I don’t want my experience dictated by trailmakers. I want to find my own way. To travel through the landscape’s natural passages. I leave my electronics at home and am more likely to bring a field guide to plants or animals with me than a trail guide. If the weather is good, I sleep under the stars. If it’s bad, I look for natural shelter or rig up something simple with a tarp. I keep track of where I am by paying attention to where I’ve been and where I’m going. Other than some flattened grass and a few less berries and chanterelles, there’s little left behind to mark my passage.

Agree? The hidden inner heart of the Santa Lucias is your preferred destination.

Disagree? Go peruse the Ventana Wilderness Alliance website and make up your own mind about where to go.







One Response to Travel in the Santa Lucias

  1. JohnBurton says:

    LOL. This made me smile. Thanks :)

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