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  • Donna

Trip Report: Lake Cachuma Recreation Area

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Santa Barbara, CA


It was drizzling–then raining–as we set up camp, getting our new jack pads muddy for the first time. While the site was essentially exposed in an open stretch of field, there was enough space between neighbors to feel comfortable. Our site was level, had room for the R-dome, included a fire pit and picnic table, and had water/electric hookups.

We chose Lake Cachuma because it has cabins where my parents could stay. So we spent a few days traipsing back and forth between our Pod and Falcon cabin: breakfast and lunch at the cabin, kids’ nap time in the Pod, dinner at the cabin, bedtime in the Pod.


Lake Cachuma has a beautiful campground that’s pleasant to walk around. I had hoped to fish, but the low water level didn’t make it easy and our neighbors said it was too murky to catch anything. We hiked the Sweet Water Trail with my parents one morning; it was pretty easy to reach from our site. It was also a bit disappointing though, because the end of the trail is marked by two signs: one that says “Sweet Water” and another that says “Vista Point 1.5 miles.” The subtext is “You just walked 2.5 miles to see a wooden sign. You’ll have to walk another mile-and-a-half if you want to see something worthwhile.”

The Cachuma General Store is a cute place to pay way too much for beer ($12 for a 6-pack of Corona), and much to my mom’s chagrin, it did not sell pretzels of any kind. But we were able to fill up our gas tank when leaving on the 23rd and propane is available as well. Also, no one batted an eye when we drove around a mostly-empty parking lot for an hour after checking out to practice backing up with the trailer.

If you’re looking for a low-key environment with lots of amenities and empty campsites, you’ll like Lake Cachuma in February.

Total miles on our Pod: 636



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