Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area: Nature Near LA

Santa Monica Mountains

National Recreation Area


Hidden in plain sight from Los Angeles, California, the Santa Monica Mountains offer easy access to surprisingly wild places. Experience the famous beaches of Malibu or explore more than 500 miles of trails. The park abounds with historical and cultural sites.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area

Explore the Park

For more than ten thousand years, the Chumash and Tongva people lived in the region that would become Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Located just outside Los Angeles, the area covers more than 153,000 acres of mountains, canyons, chaparral, and ocean surf, including 46 miles of California coastline. The area also features stunning mountains, with volcanic Sandstone Peak as its highest point, at 3,111 feet above sea level. The famous Backbone Trail offers a 67-mile hike along the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. Part of a Mediterranean ecosystem found in only five locations worldwide, the area is home to 450 vertebrate species and 380 species of bird. Santa Monica Mountains’ natural beauty has made it a popular location for filming movies and TV. Twenty thousand acres in the recreation area burned in the Woolsey Fire, in 2018, including a significant portion of Paramount Ranch.

Stories from Santa Monica Mountains

Survival and Dispersal of Bobcat Kittens in a Fragmented Urban Environment
Effects of Habitat Fragmentation on Reptiles and Amphibians in Coastal Sage Scrub and Grassland Communities
Effects of Competiton from Invasive Plants on the Endangered Plant Pentachaeta Lyonli
Since our founding in 1938

WNPA has provided more than

$136 million

in aid to our partner parks to fund educational programs, initiatives, and scientific research.

Kids in Parks

National parks are places where kids can dream up great adventures! Taking in amazing scenery. Testing out new skills. Exploring places kids may have only heard about. But most importantly, creating new memories with friends and family.

Our public lands are our public commons. They belong to all of us as part of our natural and cultural heritage. They remind us of a larger world that has existed long before the arrival of humans and will survive long after we are gone. –Terry Tempest Williams, Author & Conservationist

Shop Online

Bring the Parks Home

When you can’t get to a national park for a visit, experience it from the comfort of your home. WNPA’s online store is packed with ranger-approved park collectibles, books, toys, and clothing. Shop for a special item.