El Capitán State Beach

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El Capitán State Beach
El Capitán State Beach beachview.jpg
El Capitán State Beach looking east
Map showing the location of El Capitán State Beach
Map showing the location of El Capitán State Beach
Map showing the location of El Capitán State Beach
Map showing the location of El Capitán State Beach
Location Santa Barbara County, California
Nearest city Goleta, California
Coordinates 34°27′38″N 120°1′27″W / 34.46056°N 120.02417°W / 34.46056; -120.02417Coordinates: 34°27′38″N 120°1′27″W / 34.46056°N 120.02417°W / 34.46056; -120.02417
Area 2,634 acres (10.66 km2)
Established 1953
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

El Capitán State Beach (meaning "the captain" in Spanish) is a protected beach in the state park system of California. It is located about 20 miles (32 km) west of downtown Santa Barbara. The beach is named after José Francisco Ortega, who retired from the Spanish Army in 1795 with the rank of captain and received the Rancho Nuestra Señora del Refugio as a land grant.[1]


El Capitán has a day-use beach as well as a campground with 131 sites — 6 of which are RV only — and 5 group sites. There are tide pools on the beach and sycamore and oak trees in the campground area. Monarch butterflies congregate at El Capitán in autumn to breed.[1]


The Refugio oil spill occurred just north of nearby Refugio State Beach in 2015 when a pipeline ruptured. The spill went into a culvert that ran under the U.S. 101 and into the ocean. The spill spread over 7-mile of coastline (11 km) including this park and Refugio State Beach. The parks were closed for much of the summer during the clean-up including the typically busy Memorial Day Weekend.[2] The water system was destroyed in 2016 when the Sherpa Fire swept through a canyon near the main campgrounds. The park had already closed due to the smoke and fire danger.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "El Capitán Beach Trail". California State Parks. Archived from the original on 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  2. ^ Panzar, Javier; Reyes, Emily Alpert; Mozingo, Joe (May 23, 2015). "Santa Barbara County oil cleanup continues; pipeline may be dug up soon". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Serna, Joseph; Fernandez, Alexia (June 17, 2016). "Santa Barbara County declares state of emergency after wildfire grows to 4,000 acres overnight". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 

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