Trails at Gaviota State Park parallel the historical crossroads of Santa Barbara County where native-Americans traveled from the islands, the ocean and foothills to the interior as far as the Sierra and back to trade diverse resources and goods from across these geographic areas. Unique geology created the Gaviota Canyon that has been used for eons as a corridor for human travel from footpaths to state highway and railroad. The same corridor is the pathway for an exchange of wildlife and plants represented in multiple habitats including coastal strand, chaparral, coastal sage, oak woodland, grassland, as well as riparian/marsh areas. The rich diversity of plants and animals affords opportunity to explore their relationship with this unique geographic area.
We take lessons here from the geology and weather, especially influenced by the geographic configuration of nearby Point Conception and the influence of the Channel Islands with ocean currents and landmass air movement. Because elevation changes and the varied coastal influence, there is an enormous variety of plants closely arrayed by habitat allowing comparisons between habitats and seasonal changes. Short walking distances yield huge variety in observations about the natural history in this locale and how it compares to the wider county.