Scenic Highways

Announcing California’s newest State Scenic Highway: Gaviota Coast State Scenic Highway

Gaviota Scenic Highway


Gaviota Coast State Scenic Highway, is California’s newest officially designated State Scenic Highway. Located in the County of Santa Barbara, this officially designated segment travels through one of the longest remaining rural coastlines in southern California, along 21 miles of Highway 101 from the City of Goleta’s western boundary, to Route 1 at Las Cruces.

The Gaviota Coast State Scenic Highway includes spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, grassy rolling hills, and the Santa Ynez Mountains.  The route also adjoins three stunning California State Parks: Gaviota and Refugio State Parks, and El Capitán State Beach.

Abundant in scenic beauty, the Gaviota Coast is also rich in natural and cultural resources. It harbors rich biodiversity, with numerous parallel watersheds draining to the ocean from the Santa Ynez Mountains. The scenic highway follows the same route used by Portola and Father Serra in their historic journey up the coast in 1769, and also by Juan Batista de Anza in Spain’s first attempt to find a route to populate California in 1774.

This designation was made possible by the County of Santa Barbara’s coastal visual policies, and California State Park’s natural and cultural preservation mandates, which have protected the scenic quality along the Gaviota Coast for decades. Official designation as a State Scenic Highway further affirms that the visual quality protection measures enacted and enforced by the County and State Parks will preserve the natural scenic beauty of this stunning coastline for generations to come. 

State Route 52 - A Newly Desiginated State Scenic Highway

Mountain Vireo
  Photo credit for least Bell's vireo: US Fish and Wildlife Service


State Scenic Highway: State Route (SR) 52 in San Diego, from post mile 9.5 near Santo Road runs from post mile 13.0 near Mast Boulevard. Adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP), SR 52 traverses an impressive open-space system that preserves San Diego’s diverse natural history.

Notable scenic features include: Mission Trails Summit which divides the coastal plain from inland valley, and Cowles Mountain, the highest point in the City of San Diego (1,592 feet).  From within MTRP, views on clear days extend from sea level to over 6,000 feet in Cuyamaca State Park and the Cleveland National Forest. Natural habitats include riparian woodlands, vernal pools, and coastal sage and chaparral at higher elevations. Sensitive habitats for the Endangered least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), and Threatened California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica) are found throughout MTRP.

Scenic Highway Routes

Scenic Hwy System
View a map, photos and descriptions of California's scenic highway routes

Scenic Highways Guidelines

A process for the designation of official scenic highways.

Scenic Highway Proposal and Corridor Protection Program Example

Gaviota Coast State Scenic Highway: Visual Assessment (VA) and Corridor Protection Program (CPP)

Scenic Highway System Lists

List of Eligible and Officially Designated State Scenic Highways

List of Officially Designated State Scenic Highways

List of Officially Designated County Scenic Highways*

*Obtaining state recognition as an officially designated County Scenic Highway requires following the same Scenic Highway Program process that applies to State Routes. See the Scenic Highway Guidelines for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions (and answers) about the Scenic Highway Program

Scenic Highway Coordinators

A list of people to contact for more information on scenic highways


Updated: Dec 16, 2016