Horse Ranch & Camping Resort In Santa Barbara: Rancho Oso
Updated: Mar 16
Nestled in the mountains 30 minutes from Santa Barbara is Thousand Trails RV & Camping Resort, Rancho Oso. It is a 310 acre Horse Ranch & Camping Resort with a Western theme. We had the pleasure of visiting for the first time and were fascinated with this unique campground. They have plenty of accommodations to choose from that are accessible to everyones budget. You can choose to do traditional tent camping, RV, or even cabins! They even have some really fun options that really play into the Western theme. It's a horse ranch so as expected there's plenty of horses to see but get this...there's even horseback riding available for guest of all ages. Barn full of animals? They have that too! If you are looking for a unique and fun outdoor experience the whole family can enjoy, you definitely need to continue reading for easy planning and tips.
Where you are laying your head at the end of a fun outdoor adventure is a make it or break it for many. Some want the full camping experience and some, like myself, must have a full bathroom. Luckily Rancho Oso has it ALL. They can accommodate all kinds of campers/glampers.
There are plenty of rentals to choose from but we went with the Cottage that accommodates up to six people. There are plenty of cabins to choose from that sleep 4, 5, or 6 guest. Although we are only a family of 3, we went with the cottage that sleeps 6 because we wanted the extra space and absolutely had to have a full restroom with shower and kitchen. I'll share some pictures of our cottage down below.
If having these extra accommodations is not particularly a must for you, I'll share other really fun and even more affordable options down below.
The covered wagon sleeps 4 and encircles a fire pit and BBQ area with plenty of room for individual food preparation and campfire activities. Each has electricity and 4 army cots. Bedding not included. Restrooms/showers facility nearby. See a virtual inside tour here
This unique rental sleeps 4 people on army cots. Convenient restrooms and hot showers are situated nearby. Outside, a BBQ grill adds to the appeal of outdoor living. Electricity and linen not provided. See a virtual tour here
These cabins sleep up to 4 people and include a double bed and a bunk bed. All beds are made up with sheets, blankets, pillows and spreads. Towels are not included. Restrooms and hot showers are less than 60' from the cabin. Get a virtual tour here
To book your cabins, RV or Tent site, as well as get prices, follow this link https://thousandtrails.com/california/rancho-oso-rv-camping-resort/
The activities are endless and so much fun. Of course Rancho Oso has your typical camping experiences like the ability to grill and build a campfire but they also have so much more. There's tons of fun activities that really separate it from the rest. If a Ranch style experience is what you are looking for, this is it! I'll start by sharing all the fun activities we did during our weekend stay and then mention others that are available and will definitely be doing next time we visit.
This was the most exciting part for my family, in specific my 10 year old daughter. She's an animal lover and had always wanted to ride a horse so we immediately knew this was a must when we booked our stay. The staff at the stables were very friendly and informative. They have 2 different options to choose from.
One hour ride: This is for ages 8 and older and is $65/person. They take you along a horse trail.
20 minute hand led ride: This is suited for ages 5 and up and is $20/person.
We went with option number 2 since it was her first time on a horse and she was the only one riding. The staff was very nice and made her feel very comfortable. While riding she even got to learn all about her horse. It was a great first experience and I got to walk next to her to document it all. Make sure you make reservations ahead of time as slots book up very quickly. You can call to make a reservation here (805) 683-5110
This was another big highlight during our stay and one we all enjoyed very much. We got to visit pigs, chickens, peacocks, a mule, goats, horses and even a mini horse...he's just the cutest thing ever. We took tons of pictures and thanks to the staff learned all about these little critters. We were also able to safely pet some with the staff nearby. The barn is open from 9am-3pm so give yourself at least a full hour to enjoy these lovely animals and learn all about them.
What kiddo doesn't see a playground and immediately want to run to it right? Well this was the perfect spot to get some of those wiggles out before visiting the animals.
Of course campfires are available but only in designated areas. At check in you will be given a form to fill out if you are planning to use one. This is simply to read and state you understand all the fire safety rules. On arrival you will get a map where you will be able to see the designated areas.
Hiking and Trails
There are plenty of trails for all to explore. We went down Arroyo Burro Rd to explore and came across some wetlands. The backdrop of the mountains behind the wetlands was absolutely breathtaking. The kiddos got spoons and had the best time digging for "fossils". The Waterfall Trail seems to be very popular but that's one we will have to do on our next visit.
This room is perfect if you are wanting to have some indoor fun. In here we found board games and even showed our kiddos how to play a game of pool. This is also where you will find WIFI. More on that in a bit.
Outdoor pools are available but the weather was too cold for some pool fun this time around. Summer time, this will be perfect.
There's a general store on site which was very convenient, specially when the next city down is about a 30 minute drive. Keep in mind the store is open from 9:30 -4:30 and closed from 1-2pm for lunch break. There's also a Restaurant on site, however that was closed during our visit, which we were told was due to lack of employees. There is a daily recreation schedule you will receive on arrival that outlines activities for the day. There's things like guided nature hikes, music by the pool, and more. Sport courts are available and equipment can be found at the general store.
Important Key Points To Remember
•No WIFI available except for inside the Recreational Room and even then don't count on it for more than sending an email. It's ok, disconnect from the world.
• General Store closes at 4:30pm so get everything you need before then.
•Horseback riding reservations fill up fast. So do them as soon as you book your stay.
• Dress in layers. Fall and winter time gets very chilly in the mornings and at night
•Bring comfy shoes and clothes you have no problem getting dirty/dusty.
•Closest city to purchase food besides the general store inside the campsite is a 30 minute scenic drive, so come prepared.
•Pets are allowed only in certain rentals so be mindful of that before booking.
• Expect to see and hear these wild turkeys early in the mornings. These and other wild animals are not a rare sighting
Driving To The Campsite
The drive is a bit winding and gets pretty narrow on some parts as well. That's why it's extremely important to drive with caution and take a safe and reliable car up the mountain. We drove a Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road and felt extremely safe. It's safety features like backup camera, blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert and its lane departure alert with steering assistant was exactly the kind of safety features to give us peace of mind and security during our road trip. Not to mention, its All-wheel drive feature helped us get through those dirt mountain roads effortlessly. No more listening to static on the radio because we were able to easily connect our pandora to the car with no problem. Plus doesn't hurt that the car is stylish! If you are in need of a new car perfectly suited for adventures and road trips like these, learn more about Toyotas 2022 RAV4 TRD Off Road HERE
Would we visit again, absolutely. We had a great time and really enjoyed our time outdoors with nature. Ready to book your stay? Head on over to https://thousandtrails.com/california/rancho-oso-rv-camping-resort/ to book your stay now!
Address: 3750 Paradise Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Here's a map of resort down below.
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Talk to you later!