Top Place: Southern Los Padres

A poppy field in the Snow Mountain and Berryessa area of California
Andrew Fulks
The southern Los Padres National Forest is an urban recreation escape, 100 miles from San Francisco. Its 100-mile expanse of land stretches between California’s Snow Mountain Wilderness and Lake Berryessa.

Experience the southern Los Padres National Forest

California's city dwellers visit Los Padres for its ample recreation opportunities, including hiking and swimming.

The most biodiverse region in California, the southern Los Padres National Forest is rich in wildlife and plant species.

What’s the one best thing about the southern Los Padres National Forest?

The unspoiled creeks and rivers are great for family-friendly fun like swimming and kayaking, but also are an important source of clean water for local communities.

What’s one activity the Southern Los Padres National Forest is known for?

Wildlife watching.

The Southern Los Padres National Forest provides shelter to 468 species of wildlife, including tule elk, pacific fishers, black bears and river otters.

Interested in wildlife watching? Get insider tips.

What’s one way The Wilderness Society is working to protect the southern Los Padres National Forest?

At The Wilderness Society, we would like to see the area’s patchwork of public and private lands unified under the best possible land protection plan. This would preserve recreation and wildlife habitat.

A Southern Los Padres National Forest federal designation and management plan would:

  • Provide extra protections for wilderness
  • Protect scenic rivers and creeks
  • Support wildlife habitat
  • Provide additional opportunities for recreation
  • Safeguard the area from irresponsible development

Learn more about our work in Berryessa and Snow Mountain.