• Stars appear behind a dramatic landscape of rocky mountains, rolling hills, and fields of grass

    Santa Monica Mountains

    National Recreation Area California

Natural Features & Ecosystems

A view of the Santa Monica Mountains from one of California's most famous beaches, Zuma.

The Santa Monica Mountains rise above Los Angeles, widen to meet the curve of Santa Monica bay, and reach their highest peaks facing the open ocean. The land is beautiful and diverse. The rugged coastline offers narrow sandy beaches and rocky shores. Dense chaparral and fragrant sages cover the canyon walls. Inland, lone valley oaks accentuate the grassy hillsides.

Born from the collision and sliding of the Earth's crustal plates, the mountains are home to some of the most unique and rare natural features and ecosystems in the United States.

 
View across Circle X Ranch from the Sandstone Peak Trail.

Part of the Transverse Ranges that stretch from the Mojave Desert to the Channel Islands, these mountains are some 46 miles long and eight miles wide. Volcanic Sandstone Peak, at 3,111 feet above sea level is the highest point in the park!

Explore the pages above and learn how an area home to millions of people and visited by millions more makes this shining star of Southern California so special.

Did You Know?

Yellow Star thistle from texasinvasives.org

Invasive plant seeds and fruits can stick to you boots, shoelaces, backpacks and even pets! Check your gear! Make sure you’re not introducing harmful invasive species like the Yellow Star thistle to the Park, or into your back yard. More...