SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- I've done it in a pop up. I've done it in
a tent. I've even done it au naturel; that is, on an island without
shelter or facilities.
In other words, I have camped.
So when I heard that El Capitan Canyon, just north of here,
calls itself "a luxury campground," I thought this was something I
needed to check out.
When I learned that El Capitan Canyon, at 11560 Calle Real,
opened the El Capitan Ranch earlier this year on the Gaviota Coast,
a half-mile from the campground, I thought, "Aha! A luxury
It is, if you happen to be a horse. According to a spokeswoman,
the ranch consists of stables and a guest riding area. Those of us
who sleep lying down do it at the campground.
But here's the beauty part: El Capitan Canyon can indeed be
called a luxury campground. Accommodations include 100 cedar cabins
and 26 classic safari tents built along a meandering creek a short
walk from the Pacific Ocean.
And for those to whom luxury is synonymous with spa, El Capitan
Canyon provides spa services in their cabin or safari tent. These
include massages with several therapeutic wellness treatments,
ranging from a traditional Swedish massage to a hot rock
But what El Capitan Canyon provides most of all is a sense of
adventure for people of all ages.
"El Capitan Canyon
appeals to a variety of demographics, as it offers a variety of
getaways: a romantic cabin for couples; a family stay in a bunk
cabin; or a safari tent for those former campers of an older
generation now seeking more comfort than pitching a tent," said
Terri Bowman, general manager of El Capitan Canyon. "The range of
activities is similar. Guests can be as active or as inactive as
they like because El Capitan Canyon offers everything from miles of
hiking trails and adventure activities to stargazing."
Although the Canyon staff is there to plan a full array of day
trips, including whale watching, ocean kayaking, surfing lessons
and wine tastings, horseback riding is the main attraction.
"With the opening of the El Capitan Canyon Ranch, I anticipate
an increase in family bookings," Bowman said. "Additionally, there
are very few places in California where both travelers and their
horses can be guests. The Canyon Ranch not only offers a multitude
of activities and amenities but has opened miles of riding trails
for horse enthusiasts and amateur riders to enjoy."
At El Capitan Canyon, you can bring your own (boarding a guest
horse costs $35 per night and includes feed), but owners get a
break on the organized trail rides (cost is $20 for any guided
A ride along the Gaviota Coast with its sweeping ocean views
costs $47 per person for two hours for those who didn't bring a
The two-hour Canyon lunch ride includes lunch at the ranch, and
the hour-and-a-half Canyon sunset ride winds down with a barbecue
dinner. Both rides are $72 per person.
El Capitan Canyon features the following packages that combine
adventure with relaxation:
• Trailer, Stay and Spa Package: Stay in a Canyon King or Canyon
Suite cabin for $335 per night plus tax, Sundays through Thursdays.
The package also includes boarding for one horse, one two-hour
trail ride and a 55-minute Canyon Massage.
• Ranch & Spa Package: Stay two nights in a Creekside Queen
cabin, enjoy a two-hour trail ride for two (approximately two
hours) and two 55-minute Canyon massages. The rate is $570 plus
tax, available Sundays through Thursdays.
• Ranch & Spa Weekend Package: A weekend version of the
Ranch & Spa package. Price is $730 plus tax.
Packages are not commissionable, but the room rate portions are,
at 10%. A stay in a Canyon King or Canyon Suite cabin costs $185
per night; two nights in a Creekside Queen cabin is $290. Both are
for weekday stays. A weekend in a Creekside Queen cabin costs $350.
All rates are valid through May 31.
For more information or to make reservations, call (866)
352-2729, fax (805) 968-6772, e-mail [email protected] or
To contact Destinations editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to