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US map | California | Santa Barbara | Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

(805) 688-5246
2275 Highway 154
Santa Barbara, CA
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Average rating: 3 out of 5 (3 reviews)

 Anonymous post on Sunday, October 09, 2011
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Came here with a large group of people (I'd say about 50-ish), and had a GREAT time camping!

Plenty of space to run/walk around, and convenient bathroom locations.. our site even had a huge lamp to use at night! No need for dinky portable lamps. This campground gets pretty busy, so bring your own toilet paper and towels 'cause the bathrooms run out quickly! Showers cost 50 cents every 3 minutes, so either bring lots of change, shower super quickly, or deal with being dirty for a couple days.

It would be fantastic if we could actually swim in the big ol' lake (they don't allow swimming), but we found the watering hole alternative super fun (go down the 154 and make a left onto Paradise Rd). Perfect for cooling off and wading, on a SUPER hot Summer day.

I may just be back for another visit.. although this experience would have been even better if we could actually swim in the lake!

 Anonymous post on Wednesday, August 31, 2011
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I believe every experience is what you make of it; Cachuma lake camping being no exception.

This is a great place for 1st time campers who want to test their camping skills in a nice safe location before venturing out into the real outdoors.

Keep in mind it you are an experienced camper who loves the solitude and serenity of a quiet camping experience in the heart of nature then this might not be the best place for you.

I would recommend doing a bit of research since some of the campsites are considerably more secluded than others. Or maybe I should say some are less crowded than others.

My personal recommendation are sites in the Barona Butte area (sites 307,309,311, 313,315,316 318). These sites are a few bucks more but they are well worth it since they offer larger more spacious areas, beautiful lakeside views, and easy access to some prime fishing locations.

These sites also offer easy access to the Oak Canyon Trail(10min walk) that can be taken in order to reach the beginning of the Sweetwater Trail (one of the nicer more scenic and secluded trails in the park).

Another must do is the boat rental near the dock area. The prices are reasonable and the views from the middle of the lake are amazing. Unfortunately there is no swimming in this lake.

Over all I've had great experiences coming to Lake Cachumaa. I've introduced the area to a few of my friends and I believe it is the perfect campgrounds for the non-camper to get into camping.

 Anonymous post on Tuesday, August 23, 2011
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Where should I start?... Bear with me, this is going to be a long one. First time visitors, pay attention.

Came here with a group of 32 for an August weekend getaway that we had planned for months. Because most popular parks/campgrounds have been booked all summer, this was one of the better choices due to its first come, first serve policy. The challenge was to get here early enough before everyone else in order to guarantee the spots. Well, we did just that. We got here at 6:30 a.m. (30 minutes before the park opens) on Friday and the lady at the entrance booth told us to drive around, scope out the place and find our sites.

Easy enough, right? Wrong! The entrance lady, being smart and experience as she is *sarcasm*, did not instruct us to not lay grounds (set up our gear) when we find the sites. Common sense says that in order to secure the sites and signal other campers that these sites are taken is to set up grounds. After setting up, we went back to the front to register the sites only to find out that someone who is familiar with the campground and who came after 6:30 has booked the same sites we had chosen. Because this was our first time here, we felt that the instructions should have been properly articulated. But because the entrance attendant failed to do so, we ended up presenting our case to management to what was going to be a long weekend battle. At the time of arrival, we were given a print out -- with time stamped at 6:30 am -- of available sites, the sites we chose were on this print out. If we took the technicality of the policy, we were on the right side of the argument. Anyway, after much deliberation with management, they ruled it out as a miscommunication and allowed us to keep the sites. Fast forward to the night (same day), the manager who took care of the issue in the morning neglected to inform the night shift rangers and workers about it. As a result, we were harassed again because the other party who had booked the sites came back and took the issue to the night staffs. This was at around 8 pm when the sun was almost completely settled. We were asked to leave the sites because they did not belong to us and was instructed to look for available sites. Does any worker in this place have the brain capacity of even the most primative homo sapien? Really? Do you really want us to pack and unpack elsewhere while it's dark.

Once again, we presented our case all over and provided proof and receipt that the situation has been addressed with the day manager. Fair enough. We were left alone for the rest of the night only so that the same damn ranger can come back in the morning and harass us by telling us that we can't park our cars in a site they were not designated. Come on, seriously???

To prevent further commotion, we obeyed all park rules, including additional instructions from the rangers. Even then, on our last night, the same ranger comes back and tells us to go to sleep (it was 1 am) or we will be cited. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

If only the entrance/registration had instructions posted on signs or on handouts for first-time visitors, issues such as these would be minimized.

Overall, the campground is nice, flat and the lake is near by (walking distance). Restrooms and showers are not too far and can be reach by foot. The lake didn't have any fishes or maybe they too wanted to give us a fawking hard time. The weather was not too bad during the day but at night, it gets cold. There is a convenient shop/store and gas station within the campgrounds so that's a plus.

I would go back here and give it a second try but only because of the campground itself and now that I have a fairly good understanding of the policy. Until then, this place gets 2 stars because of the disappointing customer service.

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All single family campsites are first-come first-served. More than 400 campsites, 100 with full electrical, water and sewer hookups, and 30 with electrical and water hookups, can accommodate any size RV. Each campsite contains a picnic table and fire ring, with showers, restrooms and water nearby. An RV dump station is also available. View Detailed Camping Maps.

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