Skip to Content

Waterfalls gush and the Santa Ynez River roars over Paradise Road after recent rains

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. - The recent rains have created many cascading waterfalls and a swollen Santa Ynez River, with more to come with the next round of stormy weather this winter.

Already this season, San Marcos Pass has soaked up an unbelievable 42 inches of rain. That's about 170 percent of normal.

With about eight to 11 inches of rain in just  the last week, the hills above Santa Barbara are flowing with runoff water. One area where the waterfalls have come alive is along Painted Cave Road in several locations.

It's sight those enjoying nature didn't see much during the drought years, not long ago.

Dave Scott, a Goleta resident said, "there was ten or so years where nothing was happening, that was . pretty lonesome." He's a regular bike rider and says in addition to the waterfalls he looks forward to the green hills and early season flowers starting to pop up. "Yea it is nice seeing the green but most of the time all you see is brown."

The rain may have kept some travelers home.  Traffic was light Wednesday on the mountain roads.

At the landmark former 1886 Stagecoach stop, Cold Spring Tavern they're open Thursday through Monday. Rick Rodda took a look around Wednesday afternoon and said, "we're wine drinkers so  we are looking forward to discovery  up there and go to Los Olivos and circle back to Santa Barbara."

He traveled on the back routes from San Diego. Even during a rainy week it was intriguing. Rodda said, "we were in Thousand Oaks, and stayed in Ojai  and on the back road, 150 it was closed (due to a slide) and will probably be closed for awhile."

Campers in the back country will now contend with the elevated Santa Ynez River, powered by the storm runoff in all directions.

With the release of water from the Gibraltar Dam, the Santa Ynez river will be flowing like this likely for several months. The gate will be closed at the first crossing about five miles in from San Marcos Pass.

Bob Wilkenson drove in from Santa Barbara to see the river and surrounding areas that he has visited many times. "It is really nice this time of year,  really nice for backpacking. No flies  plenty of water."

The river is moving swiftly now and dangerous but when it's calmed down, there is a crossing here and both bikers,  hikers  and equestrians have made it through to explore areas. Wilkenson said, "I did it about a month ago before this last round and it was really nice." Right now there is a safety concern for those getting too close to a waterfall, slippery rocks, or rushing river water.

The flowing river is a solid guage on how much water is heading into Cachuma Lake which is also topped off and spilling at Bradbury Dam. That sends water towards Solvang, Buellton and Lompoc. It's beneficial for downstream farmers and underground water sources, but if heavy rains return it could mean flowing, possibly in agricultural areas.

(More video, photos and details will be added here later today)

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Santa Barbara
Santa Ynez River

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content