One of California’s biggest draws is the exquisite scenery of its state parks, national forests, and other related natural sites. But with storm surges that have dumped a year’s worth of water on drought-stricken land in a matter of weeks in some places, several outdoor recreation areas remain closed.
Especially hard hit was the Los Padres National Forest, which is nearly 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Santa Barbara by car.
Damage there was so severe that a 60-day closure was ordered for four ranger districts (Monterey, St. Lucia, Santa Barbara, and Ojai). The Mt. Pinos district was not in the order.h
The order was issued on January 13 due to “extreme winter weather events in early January that caused flooding, debris flows, bridge, highway and trail failures.”
On Tuesday, a tweet posted by the Padres showed some of the damage that was still being assessed.
There may be a 60-day postponement of the decision.
The closure order said it would be “replaced or canceled when conditions and recreational access improve.” The Padres received more than 100% of its annual precipitation along with damage from high winds earlier this month, the forest’s website said.
On top of that, stretches of roads are compromised to get to the national forest.
California’s state park system was also hit hard by the flooding, with some of its sites closed.
Twenty-one state parks, beaches, preserves, and related sites were fully closed as of 6:45 p.m. PST on January 24, and 40 other locations were partially closed.
Damage and closures have been widespread.
Some of the closures included El Capitan State Beach in Santa Barbara County and Limekiln State Park in Monterey County, about 165 miles (265 kilometers) away on a partially closed highway.
Click here for the latest updates from the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
It’s not just recent winter storms that have closed off natural areas. Others are closed for more normal seasonal weather, past weather events, or both.
In Death Valley National Park, an access road to a trailhead is partially closed due to snow. And “many other trails remain closed due to damage and debris from the major flooding this summer,” according to park management.
Meanwhile, Devils Postpile National Monument, near Yosemite National Park in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is closed for the long winter season and only open during the summer months.
Speaking of Yosemite, you’ll need a reservation to drive to the park on February 10-12, February 17-19, or February 24-26 due to the popular “Firefall” event at Horsetail Fall.
With so many partial and full closures, you should check the status of any state or national parks before committing to travel plans.
Top Image: Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California. Photo via Adobe Stock.