Credit: Los Padres National Forest

The far reaches of Paradise Road and its campgrounds off Highway 154 northwest of Santa Barbara are still inaccessible after the road past the first river crossing was gouged out and undermined by the storms in January. Nonetheless, 600 cars attempted to find parking in the popular day hiking and camping area last Saturday, said Andrew Madsen, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service.

“We only have so many available parking spots,” Madsen said, “and people need to get a parking tag for where they’re going. At the Snyder Trail, for instance, you’ll get a red tag; there are only 18 parking spots there. Each area has a different-colored tag.”

The kiosk that customarily stands at the first ford by Lower Oso is being moved to the Fremont Campground on Paradise Road, which is closer to the beginning of the state forest lands. There residents in Paradise Canyon are being asked to leave visitors’ names with the rangers, as well as at the front desk of the Santa Barbara Ranger Station.

The hundreds of visitors and their cars blocked driveways last weekend, Madsen said. The kiosk staff will turn cars away once the available parking hits its maximum capacity.

“The river rose all the way up to White Rock and gouged a big hole through it,” Madsen said in describing the ongoing repair work, “and we’re still working to clean up Red Rock.”

Forest officials are concerned about any fire or rescue that might be necessary if many hike or ride bikes across the broken road. “There’s no access for the fire department if there’s a fire,” Madsen said, “or for a rescue, if one is needed.”


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