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“Quiet in off-season”
Review of El Capitan Canyon

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El Capitan Canyon
Reviewed 12 November 2011

We spent three nights at El Capitan over Christmas. It's north of Santa Barbara; not so far at all that you can't buzz there if you need civilization. The check-in was pleasant and someone actually had us follow-him up to our cabin and he helped us get situated as it was dark and rainy when we arrived. The cabin had a deck, a small kitchenette with a couple of chairs and a fireplace. There was a bedroom with a king bed and a bath on the lower level and then a loft with mattresses above. There were four adults and one 1-year old. It was definitely cramped for our size group. I stayed in the loft with my 6'4" husband which was interesting. There is no TV but we were aware of that. We had Christmas dinner back in Santa Barbara. We also had a meal at the store on-site. It was fine and, again, the staff was pleasant. One night we ordered the meal you cook yourself on a grill. That was an adventure in the dark. There's not a ton to do in the winter. The office did recommend a place to go horse-back riding and that was a really great time. If you don't mind a low-key, off-season vacation 2-3 nights here was very relaxing. Bring books and magazines to read!

Room Tip: I'm not sure I would have enjoyed staying in one of the tents
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  • Stayed: December 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank OakParker98
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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184 - 190 of 304 reviews

Reviewed 19 October 2011

We've stayed here 3 times now (each time with a group). I think whether you like this place will depend on whether you like glamping. You are three basic choices (we've stayed in each): a private cabin (it's basically like a nice hotel room with private bath but no television...the beds are comfy), a safari tent (the beds are better than the shared cabins, and come with cleaning service, but some of the tents are older and have mildew or are stained and they can get cold even with the portable heater they give you) and a shared cabin (beds are hard, bunkbeds, hard to sleep with all those people in a room, even if they are friends and family). With the exception of the private cabins, you'll be walking to the bathroom house which is a pain in the middle of the night in the dark, but then that's the camping part of the experience. You get a wilderness-lite experience (by the beach just a few miles north of Santa Barbara is a remote canyon with some little critters such as owls and skunks) yet still have access to the camp store complete with a prepackaged bbq and fire pit package and restaurant service. There's even a walk to the llamas/goats that little ones will enjoy on the weekend.

However, the big drawback is the price for what you get. The weekend we went, the private cabin was $500+ for 2 nights. That's a trip to disneyland right there for something which clearly isn't a 4 star hotel. Even the tents topped off at $250+ for 2 nights. In my opinion there wasn't much of a value there. And the experience is neither a hotel experience nor real camping. But it was fun going with our groups-- campfires ever night, a nearby beach and everyone in the group got to choose their particular experience. There's a heated swimming pool and a playard for the kids (agree with the tip...if you have kids stay near the yard, otherwise stay away). I don't think I would go back, however, just on our own. Overall, if you like the glamping experience, you might like this place. If you are looking for a hotel experience this will disappoint because of the price and accommodations are not up to hotel standards. If you are looking for true camping, you won't like it because this is clearly camping-lite. I also give it a 2 because of the price value for what you get.

Stayed: October 2011, travelled with friends
12  Thank gretayesinia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 September 2011

Let me make a disclaimer- this is not hotel-like Ritz Carleton accommadations This is an elevated camp experience. The kind of camping that your parents probably sent you to with the hopes that you would this experience would supersede your spoiled suburban tendencies to watch tv and lay about the house.

It is great for families with young children and those of us with bad backs and not all the will to pack for a camping excursion. Lots of kids running around and biking down the hill to the store/ cafe. El Capitan beach is a 15-20 minute walk from the campgrounds as well. There is wi-fi for those who need to work or check in with the office as well. There is a good general store with hot meals and reasonable groceries including wine. They have Friday night activities for families as well. The cabins run a bit too expensive without a coupon.

Room Tip: If you are with kids stay near the pool/ playground. IF you do not have kids, ask to be far away fr...
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  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Vacannes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 August 2011

"Glam-ping" at El Capitan does not disappoint. We stayed in a Canyon Bunk cabin. Not as plush as the other types of cabins but it did the job. Warm cozy bunk bedding. Loft for the kids to play and sleep in. We loved every minute of our time there. Hikes in morning. Followed by trips to the beach. Bonfires every night. This is the way to camp! Can't wait for next summer.

Room Tip: Don't warm clothes and sturdy shoes. it chilly even on warn days. Save money, bring your own fir...
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  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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Thank flaura
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2011

There were over 70 family members at our reunion this past weekend. Every single person absolutely loved it here. El Capitan Canyon is very well managed, with a friendly, happy and helpful staff. The cabins are solid and roomier than expected, with very comfortable beds and cozy bedding. Housekeeping service comes by daily to tidy up and clean. The property is beautiful, there are activities, pool, playground, hiking trails, a beautiful beach across the street, and a market and deli on the property with exceptionally great food. We couldn't have been more pleased.

Room Tip: Their website has a map of the layout which could be very helpful in choosing the area or cabin/tent...
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  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank Karen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2011

This is an Oasis just north of Santa Barbara which features all of the amenities of a nice hotel, yet in wooden floor tents and small cottages. Close to the beach, very secluded and well managed, this is a perfect getaway from the Los Angeles hustle and bussle. The Canyon Concerts performances are wonderful. Reserve a spot at the nearby Circle Bar B Theater (well in advance) for a wonderful BBQ dinner and hilarious performances.
Great hiking trails and easy walk to the beach.

Room Tip: Try to get the Safari Cabin for a great experience!
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  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank CAPTAINCUISINE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 August 2011

Camping can be so much work. Not at El Capitan Cyn. Glamorous camping is defined at El Capitan Canyon. We stayed in safari tent #183. It was just installed a few months prior and looked practically brand new. This raised 12'x14' tent was the last tent in our section and not having a neighbor on the end made it feel very open. I would request for #183 again in the future. It was nicely appointed with two queen beds, a storage trunk for personal items, side table w/lamp, another desk/table, alarm clock radio, two handmade, rustic armchairs, ceiling light fixture, circulating fan, and space heater. They even provided towels and toiletries. There is room to store ice chests or other camping supplies, but at El Cap, you can basically show up with nothing more than a toothbrush and a fresh set of clothes, and everything else can be purchased there! Things are reasonably priced, too. There are bathhouses located throughout and they are the cleanest I've seen in any campground. I even used their showers, which I was unsure about before I got there. Very clean all around. After unloading, we went to the market to purchase 6 loads of wood and 2 bags of ice for our 4-day/3-night stay. To our surprise, El Cap will deliver your purchases directly to your tent/cabin if desired! What service! The next morning, we went our for a light hike and when we returned, our beds were made! Even though this is standard procedure, not knowing it made this unexpected service a delightful surprise. Yes, you can order food in advance from the market/cafe, and that too, can be delivered right to your door. We used the space heater twice, as it was quite chilly even on summer nights. Everyone slept very well. The tent had 4 large zip around windows for air flow. Zip them up at dusk or it will get very cold in your tent quickly on a cold night. The entrance had an inner screen and an outer canvas door that zips securely all the way down and across the bottom to prevent critters from entering. Use these zippers as skunks, squirrels or other critters will definitely enter and invade your space if you don't. We saw a fox the first night, 2 sets of quail families scurrying about, a roadrunner, a deer family, and we heard frogs croaking from the creek. A skunk walked right under our tent one night, while another skunk snuck right by me in the dark and scared the bejeezus out of me. We also heard a great horned owl hooting very late at night that echoed throughout the canyon. We were lead on short hike to the llama farm by the owner of El Capitan Cyn. He provided a brief overview of the canyon's history and informed us that the appearance of poison oak was redish-brown this time of year, not green as one might expect. We were allowed to enter the gated area to feed the goats, sheep and llamas. The wildlife provided tons of great memories. They made for entertaining stories to tell our friends, family and anyone who would listen to us when we returned home. The car free canyon made it very safe for everyone to ride bikes around. You can borrow their bikes for 2 hrs., free of charge. We also drove under the freeway to El Capitan St. beach. There is a $10 fee to enter and there is a small snack shack. Warning - this beach does have tar naturally seeping through the sand so expect some to stick to your feet/clothes. Take a short walk south on the beach and the same creek from El Capitan Cyn. empties into the ocean here. This is where my son and a group of friendly families were delightfully entertained with searching for and playing with tadpoles and frogs. In addition, there are tidepools with barnacles, mussels, urchins, and sea anenomes in the same area. Stick your finger in one of those, at your own risk, and they quickly close up! You'd miss these discoveries of you don't wander away from your towel much. Our trip was constantly filled with life's simple pleasures such as these. Can't say enough about this glamping experience. I won't go camping any other way and annual summer trips to El Capitan is definitely in our future. SIDENOTE: Since they don't allow dogs, my friend had her dog stay at Sam's Doggie Dude Ranch 2 miles away. It's like a B&B for dogs (a bed and biscuit). It's no small kennel facility, as the owner/operator Susie takes all the doggies for a daily ranch exercise on several hundred acres of open space w/your approval. With an ocean view, it's like glamping for your dogs! They'll enjoy it as much as you will.

Room Tip: If you are interested in a quieter part of the canyon, cabins 247-252 & tents 176-183 are past t...
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  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled with family
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5  Thank ddbirdLA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Capitan Canyon

Address: 11560 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93117-9789
Region: United States > California > Santa Barbara
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 17 Speciality Lodging in Santa Barbara
Price Range: £43 - £101 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 126
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Also Known As:
El Capitan Canyon Hotel Santa Barbara
El Capitan Canyon Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara El Capitan Canyon Hotel

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