Skip to Content

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden opens Backcountry: ‘Where the Wild Things Have Always Been’

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Letting kids be kids. That's the goal of a new opening at The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

The Backcountry area has families and kids at heart kicking up dirt, starting Monday, June 6.

(Courtesy: Beth Farnsworth)

Visitors to the iconic garden can meander along paved and dirt paths and enjoy the natural -- and manmade -- beauty that greets you.

"A big part of what we're trying to do is make sure that the Backcountry is something that's fresh and changes all the time," said Steve Windhager, Executive Director.

The Casitas project featuring a handful of amazing, whimsical structures, is a big part of that.

Windhager said the area is changed up every six months to two years. Children and those young at heart can enjoy Gaia Tree, built inside the hollow of a tree; The Perch, which gives a bird's eye view of the area; Quail Grove, where visitors can pretend to be bees, among other structures.

News Channel 3-12 was lucky to meet up with the Colorado State University creators of Trolling Trees while working on their structure overlooking Mission Creek.

We also talked to Cody and Karen Westheimer, the mother and son team that built The Hawk's Nest.

Karen and Cody Westheimer (Courtesy: Beth Farnsworth)

"This is a giant Red-tailed Hawk," said Cody. "We're standing on the tail."

The towering wooden figure doubles as a library in the woods for young children. Redwood pieces make up the hawk's feathers.

(Courtesy: Cody Westheimer)

"They're kind of like shingles but called "shakes" and you can learn to do them on You Tube just as I did and I taught my mom to make them," said Cody. "And, she's responsible for a good deal of these as well!"

Cody even put together time-lapse video of their labor of love.

Steve Windhager near boulders collected from Montecito debris flow area (Courtesy: Beth Farnsworth)

Backcountry envelops four acres in the southwest portion of the Garden. It also includes a rough and tumble slope filled with 30 tons of rocks and boulders gathered after the Montecito debris flow as well as tree trunks moved from Montecito and other properties.

"It's going to be the experience for kids and families to run, climb, play and just have a good time the way that many of us did as kids," said Windhager.

(Courtesy: Santa Barbara Botanic Garden)
Author Profile Photo

Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

Skip to content