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Point Conception

Coordinates: 34°26′53″N 120°28′17″W / 34.448113°N 120.471439°W / 34.448113; -120.471439
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34°26′53″N 120°28′17″W / 34.448113°N 120.471439°W / 34.448113; -120.471439

Point Conception and the Gaviota Coast from the air, looking SW. Lighthouse is visible in blowup (click) at top left center. To right (west) is Government Point, which partly encloses Cojo Bay. The Santa Ynez Mountains extend east (left) towards Santa Barbara.
Aerial photo of lighthouse, looking toward the northwest

Point Conception (Chumash: Humqaq) is a headland along the Gaviota Coast in southwestern Santa Barbara County, California, United States. It is the point where the Santa Barbara Channel meets the Pacific Ocean, and as the corner between the mostly north-south trending portion of coast to the north and the east-west trending part of the coast near Santa Barbara, it makes a natural division between Southern and Central California,[1] and is commonly used as such in regional weather forecasts.[2] The Point Conception Lighthouse is at its tip and the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve covers some of the surrounding land.


Point Conception was named Cabo de Galera ("Galley Cape") by Spanish maritime explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaíno sailed past again, renaming the protruding headland Punta de la Limpia Concepción[3] ("Point of the Immaculate Conception"). Vizcaíno's name stuck, and was later anglicized to today's version.

Chumash beliefs[edit]

The Chumash people of the region have traditionally known Point Conception as the "Western Gate", through which the souls of the dead could pass between the mortal world and the heavenly paradise of Similaqsa.[4]

It is called Humqaq ("The Raven Comes") in the Chumashan languages.[5]

In 1978, the Point Conception area was occupied "by Chumash and other Native Americans trying to save it from development by a liquefied natural gas company."[6]


  1. ^ Characteristic patterns of shelf circulation at the boundary between central and southern California
  2. ^ NWS Coastal Waters Forecast, accessed 3/18/2013.
  3. ^ Gudde, Erwin G. (1969). California Place Names. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 72. OCLC 47781.
  4. ^ Anderson, John. "KUTA TEACHINGS: Reincarnation theology of the Chumash Indians of California". Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  5. ^ Radic, Theo (2002). "The Chumash as the Keepers of the Western Gate". Syukhtun Editions. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  6. ^ Anderson, John. "Point Conception: The Chumash Western Gate". Retrieved 2013-05-07.

Further reading[edit]

  • Courtney Milne, Sacred Places in North America: A Journey into the Medicine Wheel (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1995).