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
LocationSanta Barbara County, California
Nearest cityGoleta, California
Coordinates34°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
Area2,634 acres (10.66 km2)
Governing bodyCalifornia 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][2]


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 carrying crude oil ruptured. The spill went into a culvert that ran under US 101 and into the ocean. The spill spread over 7 miles (11 km) of coastline, including El Capitán and Refugio state beaches. Both parks were closed for much of the summer during the clean-up, including during the typically busy Memorial Day weekend. The pipeline which caused the disaster is no longer in service.[3]

In 2016, the park's water system was destroyed when the Sherpa Fire swept through a canyon near the main campgrounds. The park had already closed due to the smoke and fire danger.[4]


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. ^ Modugno, Tom (February 17, 2019). "Who Was El Capitan? | Edhat". www.edhat.com. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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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