Visit Us

Not all portions of the refuge are open to the public, however there are two main hiking areas that you can explore.

Oso Flaco Hike

From the intersection of Highway 1and Oso Flaco Lake Road, located 3 miles north of Guadalupe, proceed 3 miles west to the Oso Flaco Lake parking lot. This park and parking lot are owned and managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks). A fee for parking is charged. If a State Parks attendant is not present, be sure to use the self-pay parking envelopes at the entry kiosk. After paying for parking, hike 1 mile west across the Oso Flaco Lake trail and boardwalk to the beach. After reaching the beach, proceed south a quarter-mile to Oso Flaco Creek. If the stream crossing is shallow and safe, proceed 1 mile south along the beach to the northern Refuge boundary. This route requires a round trip hike of approximately 4.5 miles to reach the Refuge and return to the parking lot.

Rancho Guadalupe Hike

From the intersection of Highway 1 (Guadalupe Street) and Highway 166 (Main Street), at the south end of Guadalupe, drive 2.8 miles to the entrance gate of the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve parking lot. A voluntary donation for access to the park is requested at the entrance gate. From the entrance gate, drive 2.0 miles west to the paved parking lot, located at the beach. This park and parking lot are owned by the County of Santa Barbara Department of Parks and Recreation, and are managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management. From the parking lot, hike north along the beach about a half-mile to the Santa Maria River. If the river crossing is shallow and safe, hike about 1.5 miles north along the beach to the northern Refuge boundary. This route requires a round trip hike of approximately 4.0 miles to reach the Refuge and return to the parking lot.

Activities

Wildlife Observation

One of the best attributes of national wildlife refuges is the opportunity to view wildlife, especially endangered and threatened species. Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes NWR will allow you and your family to see over 100 coastal avian species such as the Western snowy plover, and over 200 plant species such as pink sand verbena.

Photography

The refuge offers stunning views of several habitat types from steep dune systems to freshwater ponds to beach. Be sure to bring your camera when you visit, and check which times of year are best for viewing wildflowers.

Surf Fishing

Occurs in State waters outside of the refuge boundaries, however anglers use refuge beach to access this area. More than 95% of catch is barred surf perch (Amphistichus argenteus). Please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website for licences. 

Hiking/Exploring

The refuge has a trail system planned with markers and interpretive panels. Try the Oso Flaco trail or the Rancho Guadalupe trail.

Interpretation

 

The local Dunes Center hosts a few family interpretive hikes, and special events planned throughout the year, in addition to interpretive panels found on the trail system. Natural history, endangered species, and insects are the usual topics. There are lectures and slideshows at the local Dunes Center also.

Trails

Oso Flaco Hike

From the intersection of Highway 1and Oso Flaco Lake Road, located 3 miles north of Guadalupe, proceed 3 miles west to the Oso Flaco Lake parking lot. This park and parking lot are owned and managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks). A fee for parking is charged. If a State Parks attendant is not present, be sure to use the self-pay parking envelopes at the entry kiosk. After paying for parking, hike 1 mile west across the Oso Flaco Lake trail and boardwalk to the beach. After reaching the beach, proceed south a quarter-mile to Oso Flaco Creek. If the stream crossing is shallow and safe, proceed 1 mile south along the beach to the northern Refuge boundary. This route requires a round trip hike of approximately 4.5 miles to reach the Refuge and return to the parking lot.

Rancho Guadalupe Hike

From the intersection of Highway 1 (Guadalupe Street) and Highway 166 (Main Street), at the south end of Guadalupe, drive 2.8 miles to the entrance gate of the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve parking lot. A voluntary donation for access to the park is requested at the entrance gate. From the entrance gate, drive 2.0 miles west to the paved parking lot, located at the beach. This park and parking lot are owned by the County of Santa Barbara Department of Parks and Recreation, and are managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management. From the parking lot, hike north along the beach about a half-mile to the Santa Maria River. If the river crossing is shallow and safe, hike about 1.5 miles north along the beach to the northern Refuge boundary. This route requires a round trip hike of approximately 4.0 miles to reach the Refuge and return to the parking lot.

Rules and Policies

There is very limited access allowed on the Refuge, for both the protection of sensitive wildlife and for public safety.

There is no hunting allowed on the Refuge, however there is hunting allowed during appropriate seasons on other nearby land. For any questions, please call the Refuge Manager at (805) 644-5185.

To find other hunting opportunities and information, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife hunting website HERE.

Locations

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge 2493 Ste A Portola Road Ventura, CA 93003