Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort
If you love camping, Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort in Santa Barbara is a spot you must visit. It offers anything you can imagine when thinking about camping: staying in cabins, cottages, tents, or RVs with your pets, horse camping in an authentic Western village, sleeping next to campfires in Tipis, or covered wagons.
Adding to this experience are dozens of activities you can enjoy on the 310 acres / 125 hectares of ranch area.
A General Overview
Rancho Oso RV & Camping is a resort in Santa Barbara, Califonia. Resting between the Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez River, on an area of 310 acres / 125 hectares, the camp offers various things, from history and photography to hiking and horseback riding.
Camping is available in RVs, the Rancho Oso cabins, which come in several styles, including authentic Western ones or authentic Western wagons.
The camp is not just pet-friendly but also offers lodging for your horse, with large pastures and covered corals at your disposal.
At the camp, you can join in various activities, like recreational events and entertainment, or use the time to relax, whether by sitting back or taking in the scenery during hiking.
When sightseeing, the Western village, with its wagons, stables, adobe, and unique amenities, is a must. You will feel as if you were suddenly transported to a different period in time.
The Resort’s History
The Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort has a rich and interesting history. The entire region of Santa Barbara County, where the ranch is currently located, was once the home of the Chumash Native American tribe.
Exceeding the number of 20,000, the Chumash lived in villages across the region, with the vicinity of the coast providing fish as sustenance during summer months in addition to the rich hunting grounds on land and the foraging in the forest.
The Rancho Oso area of land was home to a sizeable Chumash settlement, with several ceremonial and burial grounds from this period still on the property and available for visits.
Many of the Chumash succumbed to syphilis and smallpox brought by Spanish missionaries, which led to the land falling under the ownership of the Mexican government.
Mexican Governor Pio Pico sold 48,728 acres/ 19,719 hectares of the land, including Rancho Oso, to Jose Dominguez in 1845. The area was named Rancho Los Prietas y Nagalayegua, and Dominguez constructed the first building on the site (nowadays, this is the office building).
The property changed hands several times, with nobody bothering to confirm the property’s title with the land commissions. This lack of documentation led to settlers occupying the grounds in 1866 and refusing to relocate despite current owner Thomas Scott’s efforts. The quicksilver fever drew the attention away from the dispute, though, with the settlers remaining on the premises.
Ownership changed hands several times through the years, and the land eventually returned to the ownership of the US government in the late 1800s.
Several decades later, the next owner of note was Edward W. Alexender, who bought 310 acres / 125 hectares of the land, which is the exact size and location of the property we know today as the Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort. He called it the EW Ranch back then and was the first to use it as a bed and breakfast.
Santa Barabara was the center of the movie industry in the early 1900s, so many of the world’s most famous actors stayed at the ranch. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were known as regulars at the ranch.
The EW Ranch became the TP Ranch after Alexander died, and Paul Dalzell bought the ranch. He brought an award-winning strain of Morgan horses to the ranch, thus establishing the horse camping tradition.
After Dalzell, a man called General Jacob McGavock Dickinson bought the ranch, introducing even more horses, this time Arabian, to the property, which he named The Traveler’s Rest Ranch.
Eventually, the ranch changed hands again in 1949, with the new owner, M. K. Duryea, giving the Ranch its current name, Bear Ranch (Rancho Oso).
On a surface area of 310 acres / 125 hectares, in the warm California climate, the history-rich western-style Rancho Oso Ranch and Resort offers many different activities.
On-site outdoor options include hiking nature trails, horseback riding, mini golf, basketball, pickleball, volleyball, or swimming in the pool.
More leisurely amenities include:
- Resting in the clubhouse or lounge.
- Having a picnic.
- Grilling a BBQ.
- Unwinding in the spa area.
Those that find themselves between looking for a competitive activity and relaxing at the same time can enjoy a game of pool or billiards in the game room.
There is WI-Fi all over the campground, with satellite TVs in the cabins, cottages, and indoor common areas.
There are several playgrounds for kids and a dog park for pets/service animals.
The Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort store offers a great selection of souvenirs to aid in your memorable stay.
Available Accommodation Options
Camping options at the Rancho Oso RV and Camping Resort include accommodation in cabins and cottages, RV camping, or horse camping.
The cottages include a full-compliments kitchen with a coffee maker, pots, microwave, and dishes. There are flat-screen TV, linens, and paper products. Six people can stay in a cottage, and there are distinct pet-friendly and those with no pets allowed.
Each Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort cottage has a queen bed, a set of single bunks, a dinette, and a sofa. Cottages have private decks, a table and chairs, and an outdoor gas BBQ grill.
The pet-friendly cottages charge an extra fee for pets.
There are TT and Western cabins available and Rancho Oso.
TT cabins can fit 4 or 5 people and are pet-friendly. The Western cabins accommodate up to four people, with no pets allowed.
- TT cabins have a gallery kitchen with all modern conveniences available (refrigerator, electric stove (without an oven), microwave, coffee maker, toaster, and assorted dishes and silverware. There is a gas BBQ grill on the outside.
- Four-person cabins feature a bedroom with a queen bed and a full sleeping sofa.
- Five-person cabins come with a double bed, a single bed, and a living room futon.
Pets are welcome in TT cabins for an additional fee.
The Western cabins fit four people, with a double bed and bunk bed available for sleeping. There is a small refrigerator and a coffee maker. Pets are not allowed.
There are covered western-style wagons also available for camping, with or without including horses in the experience.
The wagons encircle a fire pit and offer four army cots to sleep in. The fire pit has a BBQ area to prepare food and campfire activities.
Each wagon has electricity. You can’t take pets inside the wagons.
The teepees have four army cots for sleeping. They rest on wooden porches, with wooden tables and benches in the front and a BBQ grill. There is no electricity in them, and no pets can enter. The pleasant Rancho Oso weather makes this a very attractive option.
Activities in and Around Rancho Oso
The activities center offers various individual, couple, or family activities. There is a very rich children’s activities program with dedicated advisors who will help keep your kids happy and occupied while you do some exploring of your own.
Horseback riding is one very popular activity, given the abundance of long horse trails. You could bring your horse or get one from the campground’s stables. You can also pick to take part in guided horse riding tours.
Horse camping is one of the unique options, with the Rancho Oso resort providing everything you need (wagon or Tipi) for authentic Western-style horse camping.
Within a short distance of the resort, many different activities are available. The terrain offers many rock faces for people of all levels of experience in rock climbing.
Surfing is also available with the only coast 30 minutes away.
For those that enjoy RVing, with all associated activities, the RV park offers everything you might need,
The ranch offers monthly horse boarding. Shared spacious pastures, private paddocks, or covered pens are available for your horse’s stay.
Clean water is available 24/7, with generous high-quality hay feedings twice daily. Trained and experienced staff looking after the horses’ needs around the clock, including a 24-hour gated security entrance.
Everyone bringing their horse can access a huge arena and round pen.
Other Info on the Resort
The address is 3750 Paradise Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.
Horse camping in the Western village is a unique amenity of the Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort.
The Western Village offers five cabins, ten wagons, five RV water, electric areas, and thirty corrals. You can enjoy miles of horse trails in the Los Padres National Forest and can enjoy the Santa Ynez Valley sunrises in a unique and authentic setting every morning.
The campsite check-in is at noon. Check-out is at 11 a.m while the rental check-in is at 4 p.m. Rental check-out is at 11 a.m.
You will need to show a valid ID at check-in. You may also need to display insurance and an RV registration certificate.
All guests aged 17 years and under at the time of check-in are considered children.
The cancelation policy is as follows:
- You can cancel an RV campsite reservation up to 2 days before arrival. This applies to daily and weekly reservations.
- Canceling rental accommodations seven days before your arrival date entitles a full refund for daily and weekly reservations.
- In cases of long-term reservations (28 days or longer), you can cancel with a full refund up o 60 days before your arrival date.
Any cancellations past the required notice period trigger a forfeit of your deposit up to one night’s rack rate.
The base rate for camping with your tent includes one vehicle. You can add a second for a fee of approximately $20.
The base rate for RV sites includes one RV (motorhome, car/truck pulling trailer, or 5th wheel). Adding a second is possible for a fee of around $10.
A one-mile paved entry road gets narrow and winding in certain areas. Please make sure you use caution and adjust your speed when using it.
A detailed Rancho Oso campground map is available at the reception cabin.
All in all, the Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort Santa Barbara, CA experience is something you will want to repeat repeatedly, and it will be different every time you do it. You can opt for so many different experiences between a cottage stay, the RV campsite, or the WEstern horse camping experience that you won’t be able to do them all in one visit.
As for the activities available in and around the Rancho Oso camping ground, let’s say that you will not find a minute of your stay boring.