The Santa Barbara Backcountry in Spring

Santa Barbara Backcountry MeetUp Recap

Vineyards and mustard blooms make a photogenic combination

Some were scared off by the possibility of rain. Some people just aren’t into camping (something I struggle to comprehend). And I’m sure many others thought I was exaggerating just how spectacular the Santa Barbara backcountry looks at this time of year. Fair enough, but the brave souls who made it to our MeetUp group’s Santa Barbara Backcountry & Night Photography event last weekend were rewarded with a lush landscape in its absolute prime.

I’m giving up trying to describe in words how picturesque this area is in early Spring.  I’m just not that good of a writer. So here are the pictures.

The Area
The area in question is essentially the Santa Ynez valley and its surroundings. If you’ve ever visited Santa Barbara’s wine country, you’ve been here. The main thoroughfare is Hwy 154 which branches off Hwy 101 in Santa Barbara before rejoining the 101 about 35 miles northwest. Cachuma Lake County Park, where our group stayed, is smack in the middle of the valley and makes a great base of operations. There are a handful of cabins and yurts in addition to hundreds of campsites at the lake. Make reservations, especially if you want a cabin or yurt. Many other lodging options from motels, B&B’s, and even a Vegas-style casino/hotel are available in nearby towns of Santa Ynez, Solvang, Buellton, and Los Olivos.

Now, that's a photographer!

Go Now
You still have about a month of prime conditions left. But at some point in April, depending on how much more rain the valley receives, those emerald hills will become beige and brown. It’s still beautiful but nobody will mistake your photos for Ireland.

Photography Guide
This visit inspired me to put together a Santa Barbara Backcountry Photo Guide. It will include maps, photo locations, places to stay, and other points of interest to photographers. It will be available as a free download here on the website. It’s still a week or two away from completion but if you want to be notified when it is available, just sign up to receive updates.