El Capitán Entrance Improvements Project

Latest update: 5/11/2022 08:22 am. 

California State Parks acquired the land that now encompasses El Capitán State Beach between 1953 and 1967; and the State Parks Commission classified El Capitán State Beach in June of 1962.

The park and campground developments remain in the original 1978 configuration, thus the park suffers from outdated and inadequate facilities.

The El Capitán Entrance Improvements Project will adapt to park access patterns by widening the entrance road to reduce wait times and increase public safety, replacing an existing culvert with a more effective bridge and removing a fish barrier, and replacing two separate antiquated park entry buildings with one functional park entry kiosk. Additionally, to safely accommodate the pedestrian traffic now accessing the State Park entry, an improved ADA trail will provide an enhanced park experience.

September 2021 was the expected project start date; unfortunately, COVID has delayed a number of planning processes. The project is slated to begin August 1, 2022.

The construction phase of the project is planned to take a minimum of nine months, during this time there will be pedestrian access to the beach; however camping will not be available.

Project Goals

  • Remove fish barrier along El Capitán Creek
  • Improve public safety
  • Improve accessibility and coastal access
  • Improve stormwater quality per Santa Barbara
    Project Clean Water guidelines
  • Adapt to current and future access needs at
    El Capitán State Beach

Project Components

  • Widen road by 4 feet or greater along entire length
  • Rehabilitate existing pavement with a mill & overlay
  • Construct new bridge to replace existing culvert (fish barrier)
  • Increase capacity of existing secondary, high flow channel culvert with an additional culvert
  • Rehabilitate trail and construct sustainable, accessible trail in its place
  • Construct accessible entrance kiosk
  • Stormwater treatment and BMPs per Project Clean Water guidelines


Camping will close August 2022. Please visit www.reservecalifornia.com to acquire reservations. 

Pedestrian access for day use will be available throughout the project. Expect that the location and route may be fluid to avoid construction areas. Please visit the El Capitán State Beach Facebook and Channel Coast District Instagram pages for the most recent updates on access.

If you have any questions please contact the Channel Coast District at ChannelCoastInfo@Parks.Ca.Gov

  • Native American consultation (2017-present)
  • State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) 
    • Section 106 consultation completed
    • Public Resources Code (PRC) Sections 5024 and 5024.5 review and concurrence issued
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 404 Nationwide Permit (NWP) 14 
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) - Biological Opinion (BO) issued
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) - Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) Concurrence Letter issued
    • Approved jurisdictional determination (AJD) issued
    • NWP 14 and reverification of permit issued
  • Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) 401 Water Quality Certification  (WQC)
    • Permit issued
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) 1602 Lake and Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement
    • Draft agreement received
  • Coastal Development Permit (CDP) through Local Coastal Program (LCP) - County of Santa Barbara
    • In progress

Project documents can be found on the Santa Barbara County Planning & Development website.



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