DarkSky Sites

This is one of your Clubs dark sky observations sites, located off of West Camino Cielo. This place can only be used by our Club Members, as we have special permission from the owners of the land.

 The Gun Club is located at an elevation of roughly 3000 feet.  It is removed enough from Santa Barbara that much of the sky glow is eliminated.  There are several concrete pads and picnic tables which make for a nice area to setup.  Most of set up all the way in the back.

To get to the Gun Club, take Highway 154 north over San Marcos Pass. Get off at West Camino Cielo. The exit is a left-hand turn, almost at the top of the Pass.
Proceed about five miles until the pavement runs out. The road is very twisty and often only one lane wide, so this 4.2 mile distance takes about 15 minutes or so.

 



This is the best Dark sky you can get to around here in an less than 1 1/2 Hour drive from Santa Barbara and from Goleta its about 1 1/4 hour to get to the site.  There are 4 site's you can go to. Here I will give directions to the 2 sites that I think are best.

Directions to Figueroa:
1. Take the 101 North. Exit at the 154 turn-off to Los Olivos. It’s about 8 miles past Buellton.
1a. From Santa Barbara. take San Marcos Pass (154) to Los Olivos. Turn Right on Figueroa Mountain Road. 
1a. SKIP TO Step #3
2. Go east on the 154 towards Los Olivos and turn Left (north) at Figueroa Mountain Road.
3. Stay on Figueroa Mountain Road at 11.8 miles you will come to the Ranger Station.
    Continue past the Figueroa Ranger Station. You will see the station down to your right.
5. At about .7miles  further you will see a dirt road on the left with a metal road gate. This goes to Catway. Continue on the paved road.
6. Site # 1 The Lookout 
Take the next dirt road to your left 1.1miles past the Ranger Station. If you stay on the pavement and you come to Figueroa Mt. Campground, you've gone 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile to far. Double back.
7. Follow the dirt road for about two miles. At the Pino Alto turnoff take the right fork. Take the next fork to the right as well. If you find yourself going downhill you are on the wrong road. Follow the signs to the fire lookout. This is the spot.

8. SITE #2 The Saddle do not take the dirt road on step #6 Continue on the paved road past Figueroa Mt. Campground It will take you about another 6 to 10 min's to get to the RED MOUND on the right. 9. At about 4 Miles you will come up on a Big Area of Red Dirt (RED MOUND) on your right side. Your almost there. Some times you might see some of the Vandenberg members at this spot.
10.Drive 0.7 miles past the next open gate. The road is kind of narrow in spots and winds through a lot trees, then starts down a little hill. You will see a small turnout on the left that is where we set up.

 
NOAA Forecast for Figueroa Mountain


Mount Pinos is one of the darkest spots you can get to with-in a 2 hr drive from Santa Barbara. During the summer months and in to late fall you will find quite a large crowd with lots of telescopes. Also I have taking a lot of images from this site, but it is starting to show a lot of sky glow compared to 20 years ago when I first started going to Mt Pinos

Driving Directions for the Santa Barbara Area.
Take US-101 South 29 miles to CA-126 E/State Route 126 (signs for Santa Clarita)
Drive 44 Miles to I-5 N take the ramp to Sacramento.
Drive 33 miles to exit 205 for Frazier Mountain Park Rd.
Turn left under the freeway and Continue up Cuddy Valley Rd for 14.6 Miles.
Cuddy Valley Rd turns slightly left and becomes Mt Pinos Rd.
Continue for about 9 Miles to the Mt Pinos Parking lot.

NOAA Forecast for Mount Pinos


I use the Lake for both Outreach events during the Summer and for our Astronomy Clubs Annual AU Campout at the end of summer. Our Outreach events are at the Dakota Plains area and out campouts are at Mohawk Shores. I have done some Imaging here but there is a lot of Sky Glow from Santa Barbara. If you happen to get a think Fog bank over Santa Barbara then its a great place to image.

NOAA Forecast for Lake Cachuma

 


Also the site for Calstar

The overflow area at the lake is a great place for observing. it gets very dark with a fantastic horizon. I have taken some fantastic images here and meet some very nice Astronomers at Calstar. The Overflow area is the best place to setup. The Sky's here can be very dark. This year because of the lake being drained for the Dam repair. It is only $10.00 a night to camp there. You also need to make sure that you bring lots of water. During the Summer Months it can get over 100 Degrees here.

Driving Directions from Santa Barbara area.
Take US 101 North towards Paso Robles to the CA-46 W. About 118 miles
The turn Left under the Freeway on to 24th St. Continue for about 1 mile.
Slight Right on to Nacimiento Lake Dr/Paso Robles Rd Drive for 7.5 miles
Turn right onto Godfrey Rd/ Naciminteo Lake Dr. Drive for 9.3 Miles
Turn Left onto Interlake Rd. Drive for 7.7 Miles
Turn right onto San Antonio Rd. Drive for 3.0 Miles. On this road you will come up on the Lake Entrance.
This is where you will pay your park fee.
Continue straight onto Lynch Rd and drive about 1 Mile
Turn Right on to a Dirt Road. This is the Area you want to be.

NOAA Forecast for Lake San Antonio



Grandview Campground is one of the darkest spots you can get to in California. Located about  a 5hr drive from Santa Barbara. During the late spring in to the summer months and early fall. It can get quite hot there, but it is so well worth the drive. Being 50 + miles from any small town and at almost 8,000 ft. I can and does get very dark. I have been to this site about 4 times over the last couple of years. I have only had the weather shoot me down once during the Monsoonal Season. Was quite the Lighting Storm and worth the trip just for that.

Driving Directions from the Santa Barbara Area.
Take US-101 South 29 miles to CA-126 E/State Route 126 (signs for Santa Clarita)
Drive 44 Miles to I-5 N take the ramp to Los Angeles, Ca.
Drive about 9 miles South on the I5, take exit CA-14N. Stay on the 14N for 120 miles to the 395 North.
Drive the 395 North for 107 miles to the CA-168 East. It's just past Big Pine, Ca Turn Right and continue 13 miles. Carful on the rest of the trip it's quite a Road
with a lot of sharp turns.
Turn Left on to White Mountain Rd, continue for 5.3 miles to the entrance to the campground.


NOAA Forecast for the Grandview Campground