Southern California Waterfalls (Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara)
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Southern California Waterfalls may be one of the most surprising aspects about this part of California, which is better known for sunny weather, sandy beaches, cultural diversity, fine restaurants, Hollywood, and the list goes on and on. Being Los Angeles residents, Julie and I have been fortunate enough to experience these very things that make the City of Angels as dynamic and vibrant as it is. Obviously, it's quite easy to be occupied with anything but waterfalls, but believe it or not, it was the waterfalls that brought us closer to nature in our own backyard, and it even made us more aware of the many gems (both waterfalling and non-waterfalling) found in the Greater Los Angeles area.
In fact, most of the waterfalls that we've seen are reasonably within a day trip from where we live. We've been to many of these waterfalls as short half-day or full day trips on a Saturday or Sunday when we feel we needed some exercise or a break from our hectic big city lives. Really the only things holding us back from making these visits even more frequent would be the infamous LA traffic, the heat or amount of water, and the parking as most of the waterfalls are very popular attractions.
This section encompasses waterfalls found as far north as Santa Barbara County, as far south as San Diego County, and as far east as San Bernardino County. Even though we're covering a lot of real estate here, like I said earlier, you'll find that a vast majority of them can be seen in a day (if you're from or staying in Los Angeles). At most, we might have to spend one night outside of LA before going home to get to some of the more far out waterfalls in the region.
To make listing on this page a bit more manageable, we're breaking up the Southern California Waterfalls region into the following subregions - Inland Empire and Orange County
, San Diego
, San Gabriel Mountains
, Santa Barbara
, and Santa Monica Mountains
The Inland Empire and Orange County region covers a large chunk of real-estate east of the I-15 in the San Bernardino Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs, and the Santa Ana Mountains backing the OC itself as well as the southern parts of the Inland Empire. With the exception of the San Bernardino Mountains, the rest of this section tends to be feast or famine when it comes to precipitation. So visiting waterfalls like Tenaja Falls
and Tahquitz Falls
would require a bit of cooperation from Winter rains or snows in order for these waterfalls to perform.
The San Diego region consists of the waterfalls that we've managed to find in the Greater San Diego County and the mountains backing it. Since this part of the state tends to be very dry, all the waterfalls that we're aware of in this area would require well-timed visits after a wet Winter or immediately after a storm. Still, we've managed to visit some of the state's more dramatic waterfalls here, such as Cedar Creek Falls
The San Gabriel Mountains area perhaps encompasses the majority of the more dependable waterfalls as far as we're concerned given the extensive drainages and tendency for this part of the Southland to see more rain and snow than other parts of the basin. Even in times of drought, we've found ourselves re-visiting year-round waterfalls like Eaton Canyon Falls
and Sturtevant Falls
among others. However, deeper into the extensive mountain chain within the Angeles National Forest, we were pleasantly surprised by how wild and remote some of the scenery and waterfalls were despite being so close to the city (e.g. Cooper Canyon Falls
comes to mind). This area also benefits from waterfalls that could be timed for snowmelt, especially since we can see from the LA Basin whether the mountains here have snow or not. So we've managed to time visits to places like San Antonio Falls
, as a result. We're grouping the waterfalls in this region geographically as being between the I-5 to the west and the I-15 to the east.
The Santa Barbara region covers the vicinity of the city of Santa Barbara as well as some of the surrounding lands in the Los Padres National Forest. We've also included in this region Solvang to the west as well as Ojai to the east. Many of the waterfalls that we've seen here tend to require timing as the mountains here seem to experience less precipitation than in other mountains of Southern California. Among some of the notable waterfalls we've seen here include Tangerine Falls
and Rose Valley Falls
Finally, the Santa Monica Mountains covers most of the waterfalls that Julie and I have seen west of the Greater Los Angeles Area. This includes the mountains backing Malibu on the coastal side and Thousand Oaks on the inland side. Among some of the waterfalls that we've here include Paradise Falls
and Escondido Falls
. Like with the waterfalls around Santa Barbara County, the majority of waterfalls here are also reliant on the temperamental precipitation totals in the Winter months. So we don't get out to these waterfalls as often as we'd like to with a few exceptions.
Julie and I (as well as many members of our family) have seen so many waterfalls locally that we were able to compile a Top 10 Best Southern California Waterfalls list
. We're always keen to update it with more local waterfalling excursions. This list is by no means etched in stone.
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To get a glimpse of what each waterfall looks like, check out the table below. Click on the waterfalls to read more about them.
Have comments (or would like to read other people's comments) about the waterfalls in this region? Click here
Or have comments (or would like to read other people's comments) about a particular waterfall in this region? Click here
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