Adventure at Arroyo Seco

San Francisco Arroyo Seco Campground

Added by Cole Anastassiou

Epic cliff divingRelaxing and fun place to just chill by the riverAmazing (and exhausting) adventure upriver that entails hiking, swimming, scrambling, and boulderingGreat swimming holesRiverside backcountry camping opportunities

This off-the-beaten-trail adventure has a little bit of everything for everyone, and is as challenging as you make it. Many just make it about a mile down to the river for a leisurely day of relaxing, swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a few cold beverages. Others embark on a 7+ mile adventure up the river, which entails hiking, swimming, scrambling, and even some optional bouldering and cliff diving.

The best spots on the river are the colloquially referred to as the "Amphitheater" and "Narrows." The Amphitheater is about 2 miles from the parking lot and is a very deep swimming hole surrounded by steep cliffs (where many cliff dive from).

To reach Arroyo Seco from the San Francisco Bay Area, head south on Highway 101 and take the Arroyo Seco Road exit (just south of Soledad). Follow Arroyo Seco Road for about 35 minutes to reach the Arroyo Seco Gorge Parking Lot. Depending on the season, you will have to pay a $10 vehicle entry fee either at a National Forest ranger booth on the way or at the parking lot.

Pack List

Everything that you bring to Arroyo Seco will get wet. If there is anything that you want to keep dry, you must keep it in a dry bag.

Furthermore, the River Gods demand tribute, usually in the form of car keys, flip-flops, and sunglasses. As such, it's highly recommended that you don't bring anything that you don't want to lose. If you insist on bringing a camera, I recommend a GoPro or similar waterproof camera that is secured to your person.

The only essential items to bring to Arroyo Seco is a bathing suit. The water is relatively warm in the summer, but a wetsuit is highly recommended in the winter, as the water gets quite chilly.

Other optional items:

  • Towel
  • Dry bag
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray (the bugs are more prevalent in the summer)
  • Cold beverages
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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

Share

Activities:

Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Swimming

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Rating:

Features:

Adult Beverages
Cliff Jumping
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
River
Scenic
Swimming Hole
Waterfall

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

10 months ago

Summer Soltice

Epic.

10 months ago

about 1 year ago

Group site is perfect

Stayed at the group site a few times now. Each time for a camping bachelor mini party, and never got complaints about being loud. The gorge is a must. Jumping off the cliff was a great way to cool off on a hot day.

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Killer Off The Beaten Path Campground

Definitely recommend this spot. It's not the easiest place to get to from SF but so worth it. The camp hosts are awesome and even let us gather food for our fire instead of carrying it in. The hikes to the river gorge are incredible also the swinging bridge is so cool. If you have a dirt bike you can make it all the way to the coast though it's about 20+ miles.

about 1 year ago

about 2 years ago

Amazing day trip.

about 2 years ago

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Peters Creek and Long Ridge

San Francisco / Long Ridge Open Space Preserve Trailhead

From the parking lot, take the connector trail towards the Peters Creek Trail for 0.4 miles. As you descend into a small valley, notice the sound of running water that appears.

Brennan McDonald
23 Saves

Hike the Tabor Nature Trail

San Francisco / Taber Nature Trail, Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area

Signs at the trail head for the Tabor Trail state it is 1.1 miles long. That is much shorter than the actual 1.8 miles my GPS put it at. The trail sign also claims it is wheelchair accessible.

John Maurizi
2 Saves

Hike through the Founder's Grove in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

San Francisco / Founders Grove Nature Trail

The Founder's Grove is easily accessed from Highway 101 in northern California. The grove is also on the Avenue of the Giants Scenic Highway.

Jake Young
24 Saves