We’ve been going up to Santa Ynez for years and pride ourselves on knowing the area and it’s hidden gems quite well.  We were blown away to discover the Zaca Lake Retreat— the padlocked entrance is off the main drag where our family winery Curtis, and many other well known wineries can found along the wine trail, but the Retreat itself is about 30 minutes back on a harrowing road that only an SUV should attempt.   Nestled in the San Rafael mountains, the Retreat consists of a “Club House” like log cabin with a dining hall, office, sitting area and restrooms perched right on Zaca Lake.  The “accommodations,” 19 log cabins are pretty basic — the one frill is the wood burning fireplace, are scattered 20 yards back from the lake shore.  Zaca Lake is  Southern California’s only naturally occurring spring lake and is a sanctuary to hundreds of species of birds and animals including black bear, deer, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, grey fox, skunks, badgers, wild turkey and eagles.

You might meet your furry friends hiking some of the thousands of miles of trails, in a canoe or kayak, or simply sitting peacefully by the evening campfire.  Trust the wildlife– the Native American Chumash have considered this area sacred for over 13,000 years.  The shamans of the Chumash identified and worked with the healing and transformative properties of the lake– come and reap the benefits yourself!

It would be a great place to come with a big group of friends– safety in numbers as we’re scaredy cats– “Friday the 13th, III” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” were both filmed here!  Pick up some wine and BBQ supplies in Santa Ynez and Los Olivos, make a big campfire and get in touch with nature.

Paying to stay in your cabin, supports the Zaca Lake Foundation, a 501c3 encompassing 450 acres of wildlife in the Los Padres National Forest.  Your good time and rejuvenation are a tax write off!!