Updated March 2023

Camping in the Santa Ynez Mountains is enjoyable if you love the outdoors and Santa Barbara. Located off of Highway 154 is the Rancho Oso Guest Ranch & Resort. This is a wonderful destination for those who want to put a tent together or go “glamping.”

Try, try, again.

Call it living on the edge for me, but I recently decided I would give camping another shot. I camped as a child but my experience consisted of 100 degree weather, a lake to jump into to escape the heat, and driving to the flush toilets if there were any. I actually loved going to the lakes in the summer but mustering up the courage to use an outhouse has never been in my genetic make up. Once I grew up, if lodging didn’t include plumbing, it didn’t include me.

Santa Barbara County

Lake Cachuma

I’ve loved Santa Barbara County for years and recently took the time to explore it in-depth. Wine tasting, the Danish town of Solvang, golfing, and views of Lake Cachuma, are all in the vicinity or a short distance from Rancho Oso. Though Santa Barbara is best known as America’s Riviera, there is more to discover. Santa Barbara County is a layered destination where inland has as many gifts to offer as the coast.

Gal Pal Getaway

My friend and I found camping accommodations fit for a princess (or at least for a couple of women who need showers and flush toilets.) Rancho Oso is camping at its best, with the benefits of resort living. I was set to go back to my roots and sleep on the biggest rock I could find to bury deep into my spine, but to my pleasant surprise, this resort offers different styles of accommodations.

Accommodations

If you like tent camping, you can pitch a tent in a cool, shaded area, about a short walk away from the resort facilities. For those driving with their home, they have full RV hookups, making it possible to get cable TV while getting away from it all. In my opinion, that is progress in camping!

If you want a modest roof over your head, they have precious little cabins, located next to the horse stables. As a horse lover, this was heaven for me. No in-room facilities, but the main bathrooms and showers were about 20 feet away. See? My camping game is moving up in the world!

Our cabin had a perfect view of the horses and the beautiful Santa Ynez mountains behind us, equipped with a mini-refrigerator, coffee-maker, and small writing desk. Each cabin has its own porch for lounging and a BBQ grill. This tiny cabin had a bunk-bed and double bed, making it possible to sleep three or four people. It would be a tight fit but possible. For bigger parties, there are cottages equipped with full kitchens and full bathroom facilities.

How could I forget the covered wagons? They have covered wagons to sleep in. They provide army cots to use with your own sleeping bag. The wagons circle the fire pit making it perfect for families or larger parties to have a full camping experience.

Covered wagons to sleep in

Grub

There are plenty of BBQ grills and pits to be found, making it economical to bring your own food and cook to your little heart’s content. There is also a store on site. Additionally, The Paradise Store up the road serves up great sandwiches, BBQ, fries, etc. The night we were there, they had a really good live band playing and the locals were shooting the breeze with other travelers.

Now, That’s What I call Pet-Friendly

If you have a horse, you can bring them with you and board them in a fantastic boarding area. Talk about pet-friendly! Thankfully, bringing your dog is allowed though they stress keeping your animals inside at night due to possible dangers with the local wildlife. (Camping, remember?) Call ahead for designated pet-friendly accommodations.

Horseback Riding

view of back of horses head

This is some of the most beautiful country to enjoy horseback riding. Fortunately, the area typically enjoys a mild climate all-year. I advise you to sign up for the earliest ride possible. The mornings in the Santa Ynez mountains are gorgeous.

carla with horse

The resort offers an incredible amount of activities and amenities. Included are:

  • On-site store
  • Pool/Hot tub
  • Dog Park
  • Pickleball Court
  • Miniature golf
  • Laundry facilities
  • Playground
  • Clubhouse/Lounge

The list goes on.

Rancho Oso is a great, economical getaway that anyone would enjoy. It has something for everyone and is as picturesque as it is entertaining and relaxing. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in one of the most beautiful parts of California. Put camping in the Santa Ynez mountains on your camping hit list!