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RV Campground

Rancho Oso in Los Padres National Forest

sunny 68 °F

I decided to try taking a day off between excursions to slow down the trip for Mom, somehow I managed to keep just as busy as when we're out sightseeing? First, here is a view of the Rancho Oso campground from the road in:


Inside the campground, the first thing on the left is the horse barn:


The campground itself has a lot of horses and you can take various trail rides (for a fee of course). Other people also bring or board their horses up here, I guess there aren't a lot of places to ride in Santa Barbara.

We had our own RV to stay in but you can also rent trailers or cabins to stay here. In addition to the regular campground style cabins, this place has a few old west style cabins, covered wagons, and a teepee that people rent for their stay:


The campground has a number of facilities, including a Rock House that was built in the late 1800's or early 1900's when the ranch was a popular retreat for silent movies stars and other such folks.


Unfortunately, the lodge has not been restored to it's original splendor and in some ways looks like a typical (cheap) RV campground building, but there are enough traces of it's past to get an idea what it might have been like in the past. This is the main room showing a nice mural (this may have been painted later, I don't know):


Also around the large, stone fireplace mantel is a mural painted by Edward Borein, a famous western style artist who lived in Santa Barbara from 1921 until 1941. Part of the mural is covered in Plexiglass to protect it, so I could only photograph a small portion...


So, since this was our "day off", I decided to drive back up the road a bit to investigate something we'd encountered as we drove into the area. As we were coming down from the San Marcos pass, we suddenly found ourselves driving over a very long bridge over a deep canyon. This seemed longer and higher then most bridges so I asked Mom to write down the sign "Cold Spring Arch Bridge". I googled it at the lodge that night and found it was one of the longest steel arch bridges in the world (at least when it was built in the 1960's, not sure anymore). Of course, I had to go check something like that out so thought I'd just sneak off while Mom was resting in the campground. However Mom decided to join my in my little excursion so off we headed to find "Old Stagecoach Road" (from which I'd heard were the best views of the bridge). Turns out this really was an old stagecoach road!


Then, just past this sign - the Cold Spring Arch Bridge itself!


Again, I'd heard enough about this area by now I also had to drive up the road a little further where the stagecoach line (Wells Fargo I guess, based on the sign!) had built a relay station. It served customers meals and refreshments as well as being a place to rest the horses from the long, difficult journey. When it was no longer needed for the stagecoaches, it became a tavern and has remained in business ever since. They were just opening for lunch when we got there (about 11) and I couldn't let an opportunity like this go by. Mom was reluctant to get out of the car, but once she found a nice table across from the fireplace, she was right at home. She also enjoyed trying to identify all the odd ranch/stagecoach type stuff around the walls.


(Kinda makes me wonder if this was the inspirition for the Cracker Barrel chain?)

After eating way too much (and it was good), we headed back to the campground. While Mom took a nap, I thought I'd take the dog for a walk then work on the blog. However as I headed up a dirt path across from the RV (there are a LOT of horse trails around the campground), it kept going and stayed nice and easy to follow, so we just kept going. After a half mile or so, we came out just above the horse corrals, which would have been fine - but there was a sign at the fork in the road - "Waterfall Trail". The camp brochure mentioned that they had a waterfall trail, so I was kind of curious. It was getting late, but I figured we still had at least an hour or so of good light, so Grizzly and I headed up the trail. About 1/4 mile up the trail was a giant cistern, maybe 60' across. This is clearly the main water supply for the camp and turns out is spring fed! After the cistern, the trail changed from a nice, dirt road to something else indeed. Calling it a 'trail' is misleading, very rugged, lots of places where you need to cross the stream by picking out rocks (and hoping they are stable).


Grizzly was a much better hiker then I was, but we made our way pretty good. I finally encountered a series of very small waterfalls (maybe 1' high?), so began to wonder if the trail was so named because it followed a brook by small cascades of water?


But finally, we came to a very interesting waterfall, maybe 15' high. It didn't 'fall' so much as cascaded down the face of a large, flat rock. I'd never seen a waterfall quite like this. It was lovely.


I was pretty proud of myself for finding the waterfall! It was getting darker however, so we headed back to camp at this point and I did go work on the blog. Later I found out that there was another waterfall beyond this one that was about 30' tall, we hadn't gone quite far enough. Oh well, maybe next trip?

During our stay at Rancho Oso, we had seen quite a bit of wildlife (including birds). I may be the most boring person on earth, but I love taking pictures of the different kinds of plants and animals I encounter - so, to avoid putting you to sleep, have saved these for last.

One of the prettiest birds here was an Acorn Woodpecker. It took me several trys and a couple of days to get a good shot of one:


I also had trouble getting a good shot of a scrub jay, but this should do:


We encountered California Quail several times, they weren't too hard to photograph:


There were also quite a few wild turkeys here. A couple of them came down the hill every morning around 8, picking up bugs as they worked their way through the oaks behind the cabins. These two were over by the barn, so may have become domesticated - but they look exactly the same so I'm not sure.


Also the entire campground was covered with ground squirrels. They looked like squirrels, but acted just like prairie dogs, so they must be related. The ranger thinks they are ruining the park and there are so many tunnel's under the barn that one day it just may collapse. He's probably right and they are pests, but they are so cute I couldn't help taking pictures of them:


There are lots of doves, crows, hawks, vultures and sparrows but I thought I'd spare you having to look at those. We also other animals which I wasn't able to get pictures of (or good ones), including deer and humming birds. Then just as I was leaving the campground this morning (4/14) in the dry creek bed to my left was a large cat. It was about the size of a bobcat or slightly larger, but tawny. It definitely was NOT a house cat - my guess is that it was a young cougar. They do have cougars up here but this one was too small to be an adult, so who knows. Of course I was driving the RV and it ran off way too fast to even reach for my camera, but was exciting never the less.

Finally, one of the evenings even Mom got into the act and decided to see what was at the end of the fence up the hill from us. Proof that she still has a bit of curiousity left in her!


Posted by jl98584 20:43 Archived in USA Tagged rv rancho campground oso

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