Leo Carrillo State Park/Beach

Leo Carrillo State Park/Beach
Leo Carrillo State Park is one of many state parks located in the coastal section of the Santa Monica Mountains, one of the few transverse (east-west spanning) mountain ranges in the world.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area encompasses over 150,000 acres, 46 miles of California coastline, protects over 50 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, and offers a rich diversity of activities and curricula to fit almost any trip goals. This unit of the National Park Service is managed by 20 different agencies at every level including private, city, county, state and federal partners. There are 26 distinct natural communities including salt marshes, intertidal zones, oak woodlands, chaparral, grasslands and sandy beach. Leo Carrillo State Park/Beach is a tent based camping site steps from the beach. It is ideal for studying beach ecology (both sandy beach and rocky tide pools), riparian and chaparral all within a short distance. Natural features combined with a rich cultural history of the Chumash and Tongvan Native Americans and close proximity to the greater Los Angeles areas, make this location one of our most popular sites. We have the ability to run any program ranging from a relaxing retreat to a rigorous science camp and anything in between.

Educational Overview:

Curriculum Available: All curricula are compatible with the California State Science Standards.

  • Sense of Place:
    An introductory activity geared toward gaining an appreciation for not only the variety of landscapes California offers, but how our site fits into it both historically and in present day.
  • Geology:
    As one of the four transverse mountain ranges in the world, Santa Monica Mountains offers an opportunity to study the intricate geological past of Southern California.
  • Plant Communities/ID:
    Chaparral, Oak Woodland and Savannah grasslands make for a great discussion of ecology and biological connectedness. Coastal sections of this mountain range host two of the last remaining salt marshes in Southern California; an excellent opportunity to study a disappearing ecosystem.
  • Tide Pool Ecology:
    Look for sea stars and discuss the stressful conditions that intertidal organisms are perfectly adapted to live in.
  • Water Resources:
    Learn about pollution, sewage and water sources that affect not only a distinctive mountainous area, but the ocean environment that is right next door.
  • Human History:
    A storied past ranging from peaceful Native American Chumash and Tongvan peoples and the bright lights of Hollywood, to a protected area with the most exceptional set of management partners in the world.
  • Outdoor skills:
    How would you survive in the natural environment without the benefit of modern technology and its conveniences? Learn about edible plants, structure building, making fire and the like!
  • Evening Programs:
    Astronomy, Sensory Awareness and Campfire
  • Journaling:
    Journals that can be utilized for observational, subject and individually based journaling.
  • Group building:
    Activities facilitated by your naturalist to help your trail group grow as a functional unit.
  • Trust Initiatives:
    Trust building activities to support individual challenge activities.
Additional Options:
  • Scheduled Docent & Ranger Talks:
    Experience the visitor center (open on weekends or special appointment) and knowledgeable docents.
  • Beach Day:
    Water activities require hiring of a beach lifeguard selected by Naturalists at Large.
Site Facilities:

Group or Family tent camping sites with clean bathrooms and token showers. Naturalists at Large provides tents and prepares all food for tent based camp sites.

Activities Available:
  • Hiking:
    Explore the trails around Leo Carrillo through chaparral and coastal scrub with beautiful vistas of the California coastline. Bluff hikes are also available as you hike along the coast.
  • Tide pooling:
    Discover sea stars, crabs and urchins in tide pools that are always a hit with students and faculty alike.