Once making it to the wind caves, the views are endless with beautiful green hills and views of Gaviota State Beach. If you have an imagination and enjoy rock hopping and cave exploring, this is your hike!

Caves and epic views...need I say more?! That's what you'll encounter on this short 2.5 mile out and back hike to the Gaviota Wind Caves in the San Ynez Mountains, West of Santa Barbara. The Gaviota Wind Caves are a sandstone formation located 1 mile from the Pacific Ocean. One good thing about this hike is it's right off the 101 freeway...and cost free! The bad thing about this hike is that you can see the highway from the Wind Caves. It personally didn't bother me, but I overheard another couple complaining about it as they bypassed me on the trail, so I figured I'd share it.

To get to the Wind Caves, take the Gaviota Beach Rd exit, and stay left. Then follow the road slightly to the right going uphill passing a pay booth. On your right you'll see a small parking area, which is where the start of the trail is. From here follow the paved road for the first half of the trail until it becomes a single track that climbs rapidly to a ridge running down from the caves. This part of the hike is definitely much more enjoyable and pleasant. After gaining the ridge, continue on the trail to the left toward the exposed pocked sandstone.

Once you arrive, step inside the opening to the lower set of caves and explore! A path around the lower set of caves leads you to the top of the upper wind caves, where there is an eye-shaped arched rock that can be seen from below. Climb around the wind-carved caves, have a seat and enjoy the fine view it has to offer. The Wind Caves are a great place to explore and enjoy views of the mountains and ocean. When you're finished rock scrambling and photographing, head back the same way you came.

Just a little recommendation: If you plan to do this hike later in the evening, wear sweats and/or a sweater, as the cool breeze really starts to kick in!

Dogs are not allowed on this hike. No fee or permit is required to hike to the Gaviota Wind Caves, so get out and enjoy! Happy Trails!

Thinking about camping in the area? Check out Camp at Gaviota State Park.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots/running shoes
  • Backpack
  • Water/snacks
  • Camera/tripod
  • Hat/sweater
  • Good vibes
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RT Distance 2.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 600 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Romantic
Scenic

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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