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Lifetime Memories Made At Thousand Trails This Summer

Lifetime Memories Made At Thousand Trails This Summer

We went camping at Thousand Trails in Santa Barbara this month.  It was our first time there and we weren’t sure what to bring.  I checked the website to learn more about the location and the amenities offered.  What I didn’t expect is how amazing it was.  Everything was clean, well taken care of and topnotch.  All of the staff was sincerely nice and helpful.  We had a blast and will definitely be going back.  It is deep in Santa Barbara so we packed for the beach when we should have packed more for hot weather.  We also brought too much food (never a bad problem).  We stayed in a cabin (WOW, but more about that later) but there are lots of other options.

So, first thing you’ll need to do is pick a Thousand Trails location.  You can pick based on location, travel time, amenities, etc.  I liked Rancho Oso because it was fairly close (1 1/2 hours away) and had horseback riding.  I also like that it was in the middle of the mountains.  We were away from freeways, traffic and other city life yet had others on site and a general store in case we needed anything.

Some Details About Our Cabin

The cabins come in a few sizes.  All have kitchens, bathrooms, tv with cable and are fully furnished.Rancho oso cabins

Our cabin had a loft upstairs with two twin beds (kids slept here).

From the loft looking down was the living room (and porch at the top of the photos).  The kitchen table sits four chairs and the couch has a hide-a-bed. The bedroom had a queen bed, closet with dresser drawers, end table and tv.  It wasn’t huge but was big enough to have everything fit in it comfortably. The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, dishes, seasoning, etc and the bathroom had linens and soap.   The kitchen even had a knife block, dish soap, dish rags, a sponge to do the dishes, etc. View from patio looking back.  Loft upstairs.  Entertainment center and tv on right.  Kitchen and than bathroom and bedroom. there is a pantry and full-size refrigerator too.

Lots of shade!  I love how the trees are fully grown and are all over the place.  Even on a hot day there is a nice breeze too.

So Many Ways To Get Exercise and Explore

There is a lot for families to do outdoors.  Here is horse shoes, tennis courts and pickleball courts. Plenty of things for kids too. Playground fun to tire kids out and make friends.  There is also Golden Horseshoe Hunts, Scavenger Hunts, family movie nights, card games, wagon rides and more. Miniature golf greens. Putters and balls can be checked out for usage.  Basketball hoops on the right.  There is also two pools and a jacuzzi. We wandered around and explored the campgrounds.  It was a great way to meet other people and get in a nice walk.
If you have an RV you can bring it and hook it up.  There are also options to leave the RV at Thousand Trails and come back to camp without having to drag the RV home and back again.

A Place To Ditch The Kids

We found the Adult Lounge too.  A nice building for some adult-time without kids.  Everyone must be 18-years-old, or older to hang out here.  It has a living room with couches, tv, a fireplace and exercise equipment, a billiards room, a room with puzzles and board games and wifi!  Yes, I said wifi.  The rest of the campgrounds don’t have wifi, so if you want your kids to unplug and jump in a pool or ride a horse, just don’t tell them the password.  The mountains surrounding the camp are so big that regular internet is spotty.  The Adult Lodge has wine tasting on Saturdays for those over 21 too.

More Outside On The Site

For those staying long-term or in tents there are a few buildings with restrooms, soda machines and washing machine and dryers to use. Our cabin was two story and had a picnic table for outdoor dining.  It also had a barbecue on the patio.


Camping, RV-ing, Glamping, Cabins And More.  Stay in so many ways and yet have a store, pool, playground, etc.

Forget something like sunscreen or charcoal or want a candy bar?  The Country Store has it all.  The Stone Lodge is where kids can go to check out sports equipment, play ping-pong and families can purchase meals and dine in the mesh hall or outdoors. There is a large amount of horses at Rancho Oso too.  Some are for families to rent for riding (they have little kid rides or hour long rides for older kids and adults).  Campers can bring their horses here to be able to ride while on vacation.  Some people board their horses here too. We got to see some cowboys teach kids about riding rodeo cows (they used young calves and a stuffed animal rider).  The kids and adults were entertained and educated by this. Some alternative options for lodging.  I seriously want to come back and stay in every single one!

First there is the corrals.  These are like cabins but smaller.  Not sure but I think they are empty inside. Than you have the option of covered wagons.  These are so cool!  There is steps to get inside and I also saw one with a wheelchair ramp. Finally, you can sleep in a teepee.  They have beds inside too!  The teepees and wagons are in a large circle with picnic tables and barbecues on the side of each one.

I love how gorgeous it is at Rancho Oso.  The grounds are in excellent condition with no trash, debris or anything else on the ground.  The view is spectacular in every direction.  No wonder why this is a popular vacation spot!  The kids even said they wanted to stay for ever.

Rancho Oso in Santa BarbaraWe also saw other livestock wandering around.  Chickens and turkeys were hanging out near the horse corrals and there are goats and a large amount of cattle. There were a few different species of butterflies and some ground squirrels. Shady path to the Adult Lounge and Member Services (you can go in there and talk to Martin to learn more about becoming a member at Thousand Trails and all the benefits and perks that comes with it. Martin Turner or 855-572-6246.  You can contact him to save money on a 1-year or 4-year membership and learn more about getting 2 free weeks a year!  Members can visit other Thousand Trails locations too. Random selfie enjoying the grounds.rancho oso selfie The Stone Lodge has a history of its own and is a unique building to explore.  On the right is the recreation room, middle is the mess hall and left is a room for teens to play ping-pong or hang out.  There is also arts and crafts for younger kids and to the left of the stone lodge is a church with services on Sunday. Inside is roomy with couches and where food is served.  There is a row of picnic tables inside and outside for dining.   I like that I could buy breakfast, lunch or dinner Friday-Sunday.  We had dinner one night (just to try it and hang out with other families.  Plus I suck at cooking tri-tip).  My son and I had the tri-tip and my daughter had the vegetarian lasagna.  There was also a huge salad, corn, beans and garlic bread.  For younger kids there was also a choice of chicken nuggets.  The meals vary depending on the day but you can get a menu selection while you are staying there.Other fun family activities are the ice cream social.  We got to choose from three flavors and add nuts, whip cream and cherries. Lots to shop for inside the Country Store.  Groceries, gifts, ice cream and more.
Got the kids to smile in front of a giant cactus. Some bees pollinating the cactus flowers.The chapel is a general domination service held every Sunday at 10am. 


Horses & Hikes

Kids and adults can take a 1-hour trail ride around the outer trails, through the streams and exploring with a guide.  Riders must wear helmets and be under 200 lbs.
The horses were the kids’ favorite part.  I didn’t ride but did get to pet the horses.  They are very mild-mannered and are great for new or experienced riders.
Guests of Thousand Trials can get a Walk The Trails Mileage Log and keep track of miles walked while on hikes.  They can turn in the cards at any Thousand Trails location for prizes.  We explored a few trails including one to the Rancho Oso Waterfall, to a stream (the one they rode the horses on) and there is even a swimming hole (we didn’t find it).
It was hot outside but the trails were nicely shaded for most of the hike.  We passed a few people hiking but I liked how quiet it was and how we could hear all the birds and nearby animals running around in the bushes.Throwing a rock in the stream to see how deep it is.  It was too deep for us to cross on foot (didn’t want our shoes wet).  I was surprised how much water there was in June.Picture on the way to Chumana Lake to go fishing.  Just goes to show there are a lot of residence in the area outside of Rancho Oso but they are somewhere further back in the hills and trees.
Sign leaving… We will definitely be back.  This was a wonderful place to make lasting summer memories with my kids.  I love that every since person we came across (employees and other families) was delightful and friendly.  I can’t wait to visit again.

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7 Responses to Lifetime Memories Made At Thousand Trails This Summer

  • That place looks AMAZING! I love how you walked us through your trip! Your next post should be a packing list for this destination I think too so others will get a good idea on what to pack. Wish you had photos of the inside of those country western looking buildings! Those look so cool, of course so do the others! With a baby, I would want to glamp for sure at this point but later…. all bets are off! Those trails and all that water…. oh my word, just so amazing! I hate the heat so for me, I would want to go closer to fall to enjoy all the trails. I am good with cold water even if I found the swimming hole! LOL I remember cramping on a ranch in Maine with 4-H in the summer a few times and we would all go to a waterfall to get clean as there were no showers on the ranch. It was so much fun! Till another rancher followed the shampoo bubbles up to our spot and boy did we get into trouble! Turns out his cattle down stream drink the water and well…. can’t imagine soap is good for them! We learned a hard lesson that day. So the next year we all still bathed in the waterfall but no soap for us! Anyway, this reminded me of that for some reason. I would so love that vacation. Next time my family ends up out that way we have to plan a stay there! What were the prices like?

    • We always brought phosphate-free shampoo, conditioner and soap while camping if we didn’t have showers.

  • This looks like a really cool place to visit!!

  • Wow that place looks absolutely fantastic and I am gonna plan a family trip there this summer.

  • Great coverage, Deborah! Only one small correction: the camping for TT members is free all year long. The “free 2 weeks” is for the cabins in the Elite membership upgrade, as well as other discounts and benefits.
    Come back and see us soon! We’ll be rockin out all summer long!

    • Thank you for letting me know. It was great meeting you and I hope to come back again soon.

  • What a dream vacation! I’d love to take my kids and stay in one of the old west style lodges! I wonder if we’d all fit! Thanks for all the photos, it really gives a good idea of what everything looks like and a great perspective. I’ll definitely take my family here!

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