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Ventana Wilderness: Wikis


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Ventana Wilderness
IUCN Category Ib (Wilderness Area)
Location Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California, USA
Nearest city Monterey, CA
Coordinates 36°15′0″N 121°40′0″W / 36.25°N 121.666667°W / 36.25; -121.666667Coordinates: 36°15′0″N 121°40′0″W / 36.25°N 121.666667°W / 36.25; -121.666667
Area 240,026 acres (971 km2)
Established 1969
Governing body U.S. Forest Service / Bureau of Land Management

The Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest is a Federally designated wilderness area located in the Santa Lucia Mountains along the Central Coast of California. This wilderness was established in 1969 when the Ventana Wilderness Act abolished the 55,800-acre (226 km2) Ventana Primitive Area and replaced it with the 98,000-acre (400 km2) Ventana Wilderness. In 1978, the Endangered American Wilderness Act added 61,000 acres (250 km2), increasing the total wilderness area to about 159,000 acres (640 km2). The California Wilderness Act of 1984 added about 2,750 acres (11 km2). In 1992, the Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act created the approximately 14,500-acre (59 km2) Silver Peak Wilderness and added about 38,800 acres (157 km2) to the Ventana Wilderness.

The bill also designated the Big Sur River as a wild and scenic river. Most recently, the Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002 expanded the wilderness for the fifth time, adding nearly 35,000 acres (140 km2), increasing the total acreage of the wilderness to its present size of 240,026 acres (971 km2).[1] A very small part of it, 736 acres, is located on Bureau of Land Management territory.


Name origin

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (white form) at the University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley, California

The Ventana Wilderness is named for the unique notch called "The Window" on a ridge near Ventana Double Cone. According to local legend, this notch was once a natural stone arch.[2]


The topography of the Ventana Wilderness is characterized by steep-sided, sharp-crested ridges separating V-shaped youthful valleys. Most streams fall rapidly through narrow, vertical-walled canyons over bedrock or a veneer of boulders. Waterfalls, deep pools and thermal springs are found along major streams. Elevations range from 600 feet (180 m), where the Big Sur River leaves the Wilderness, to about 5,750 feet (1,750 m) at the wilderness boundary near Junipero Serra Peak.


Marked vegetation changes occur within the Wilderness, attributable to dramatic climatic and topographic variations coupled with an extensive fire history. Much of the Ventana is covered by dense communities of chaparral, a group of fire-prone plant species, consisting largely of chamise and various species of manzanita and ceanothus. Other plant communities found in area include oak woodland (Coast Live Oak, Valley Oak, etc.) and pine woodlands (Coulter Pine and Knobcone Pine). Deep narrow canyons cut by the fast moving Big Sur and Little Sur rivers support stands of coastal redwood (some old growth), Big Leaf Maple, and Sycamore. Small scattered stands of the rare, endemic Bristlecone Fir may be found on rocky slopes and canyon bottoms. Mountain lion, bear, deer, fox and coyotes range the wilderness, as does the California condor, reintroduced to the region by the Ventana Wildlife Society.

Trails and human use

There is an extensive network of trails and several trailheads that provide access into the Wilderness. The Pine Ridge trailhead at Big Sur Station near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is by far the most popular starting point. Other trailheads include Bottchers Gap, Los Padres Dam, China Camp, and Arroyo Seco. Much of the area is very rugged and trails within the Wilderness are frequently overgrown and challenging to follow. Off-trail travel can be extremely difficult due to the steep, unstable terrain, and dense vegetation, like Madrone, manzanita, and Ceanothus. As is the case in most designated Wilderness areas, motorized equipment and mechanized transport are not allowed. Hunting of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) or European boar, which were introduced into the Carmel Valley area in 1927,[3] is permitted by license.


See also

External links

  • Ventana Wilderness Alliance — Dedicated to the protection, preservation, enhancement and restoration of the wilderness qualities and biodiversity of the public lands within California's northern Santa Lucia Mountains.


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