Save Santa Paula Canyon!


Photo by Flickr user KnaPix


Located in Ventura County between the towns of Ojai and Santa Paula, Santa Paula Canyon is a spectacular natural area that has been degraded from neglect and disuse over the years. But we’re working to change that. We’re working to Save Santa Paula Canyon.

Santa Paula Canyon supports a broad diversity of ecosystems which provide habitat for several rare and imperiled wildlife. The canyon is close to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary and condors are frequently seen soaring overhead. In addition, Santa Paula Creek provides critical habitat for endangered steelhead and is a top priority of fisheries biologists seeking to restore historic steelhead runs in our region.

The trail that runs along the length of the canyon is one of the most traveled trails in the forest, with as many as 100,000 visitors each year. This trail winds its way through dense riparian cover and up into the chaparral for breathtaking views of the Topatopa Mountains. It serves as a gateway to the Sespe Wilderness, hosts three backcountry campsites, and leads to some of the best swimming holes and waterfalls in the national forest, including the Punch Bowl.

The mouth of the canyon is also part of the original Chumash village of Sisa, the largest of the inland village sites and considered by archaeologists to be of the “highest significance” in understanding the entire Chumash economic sphere and social network.

Santa Paula Canyon is worth protecting. Its spectacular recreational opportunities, critical wildlife habitat, cultural significance, and pristine water supplies are a benefit to our entire community, and are irreplaceable. Read below to learn about the challenges facing the canyon, what we think needs to be done, and what you can do to help.






An oil company is seeking to drill 19 new oil wells at the mouth of Santa Paula Canyon, nearly doubling the industrial facilities here and adding more pollution and visual blight.

The company is relying on a 37-year-old environmental document to conclude that the wells will have no significant impact.

Click here to learn more


santa paula canyon graffiti

Graffiti from disrespectful trail users marks many of the canyon walls in Santa Paula Canyon, permanently vandalizing the natural landscape.

Not only is this an eyesore to hikers, the toxic paints can also wash into the creek, harming the plants and animals that rely on it and polluting the water for downstream users. Related drug and gang activity threatens the safety of all visitors.

Click here to learn more



Unfortunately, some hikers don’t pack out their trash. This careless behavior leads to huge buildups of rubbish and pollution in an otherwise pristine canyon. Trash cans and proper signage encouraging “leave no trace” ethics are absent from the trailhead.

This accumulation of trash poses significant threats to the health of condors, steelhead, and all wildlife in the canyon.

Click here to learn more



We’re monitoring the existing oil facility, reporting violations, and ensuring proper regulatory oversight. In addition, we’re attending hearings, enforcing environmental laws, and promoting best management practices to ensure that the oil industry fulfills its obligations to protect the environment.


Forest rangers and sheriff deputies are stretched thin, but their presence is critical to restore the canyon as a safe and clean place to visit. By educating the public and actively enforcing laws against littering and graffiti, they command respect. We’re working to increase law enforcement so that it’s a safe place for all to enjoy.


Increased signage, interpretive displays, and trail maintenance would make the canyon easier to navigate and safer to explore for everyone. It would also decrease the number of people wandering off trail, getting lost, trampling habitat, or finding new places to tag with graffiti. Join us – there’s work to do!


Los Padres ForestWatch is poised and ready to take volunteers into the canyon to do what we can to clean it up. It’s amazing how much difference a small group of volunteers, armed with trash bags and gloves, can accomplish in just a few hours. Join our team of dedicated and hardworking volunteers by clicking here!


We’re doing everything we can to protect Santa Paula Canyon for current and future generations. But we need your help! Click below to learn more about the ways you can get involved in protecting this precious landscape for the benefit of us all.

Join our Crowdrise Campaign!
With our most recent appeal to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors denied, we have filed a lawsuit against Ventura County. In order to support our lawsuit through the legal battle, we have until December 31st to raise $30,000 and we need your help. Help Save Santa Paula Canyon by joining our Crowdrise campaign!


Join our team of hardworking and dedicated volunteers! Sign up for our monthly volunteer newsletter to stay informed about upcoming volunteer projects in the forest and get out there to help restore Santa Paula Canyon and the rest of Los Padres National Forest! Click here!



A wide variety of agencies, organizations, and non-profit organizations throughout the community have a stake in protecting Santa Paula Canyon. By working together, we can make a difference, ensuring the protection of this important resource.

Save Santa Paula Canyon