Afternoon Road Trip on
Scenic Highway 33
Southern California
Central California
Road Trip
Day Trip

Ready for an awesome road trip? Highway 33 is close to home (for us), and it’s just that – a road trip. No real destination – just the road itself.

Highway 33 is a stretch of road in Southern/Central California that runs through some incredibly scenic country. We take this way up to Ojai, but knowing the road went much further, we decided one day to head out and explore.

From Highway 101 in Santa Maria, we headed East on the 166 towards the 33. We crossed over the Twitchell Reservoir on our way to a little town called New Cuyama. This ramshackle collection of houses, a shopping center, and a gas station are a good place to stop and stretch your legs if nothing else. Gabe can find a great picture anywhere, and New Cuyama was no exception. From the center of town, Highway 33 is just a few miles ahead, near the Southern entrance to the Carrizo Plain.

Abandoned cars along Highway 33 - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
Miles of beautiful roadway lay ahead of us as we headed South towards the Ojai Valley. Somewhere not too far in, we came upon an abandoned house/market with some rusting cars in the adjacent fields. I’m a sucker for dilapidated, forgotten buildings, and these were picture perfect. OK, so we had to crawl through a rusted wire fence to get close and take these cool photos. We love a little adventure – and we didn’t sound any alarms.

We headed further south on the highway, passing an intersection that leads to Mt. Pinos, the peak that sits at the top of the Grapevine on I-5. There are some incredible lookout points on that peak, and it’s a spot where I’ve gone back-country skiing on many occasions.

Miles of beautiful roadway lay ahead of us as we headed South towards the Ojai Valley.

Continuing on the 33, we climbed further into the hills. Ahead and to the left of us appeared a set of rocks and trees that were spot-on right out of the Great Thunder Mountain ride in Disneyland.

Highway 33 is popular with motorcycle riders, and a number of them passed us on this beautiful, desolate and winding highway. At one point, near the crest of the mountain pass, some cars were pulled over – so naturally, we pulled over as well. What unfolded below us was a vista of roadway, hills, valleys, the ocean and the Channel Islands in the distance. We lingered up here for a while enjoying the view and our makeshift convenience store snack lunch.

Rocky hills off of Highway 33 - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
Welcome to New Cuyama - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
Pit stop just off of Highway 33 - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
Tarantula mating season - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
The barren landscape of New Cuyama - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
A neighborhood in New Cuyama - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33
Highway 33 continues and drops you down into familiar territory in Ojai. The day was winding down, so we resisted the urge to stop in town and instead headed back out around Lake Cachuma and made our way home to Santa Barbara.

One big circle of a road trip, easily accomplished with 5-6 hours. Perfectly simple and beautiful in every way.

Grab your camera and find a road trip like this one!

Abandoned house along Highway 33 - Let's Photo Trip Highway 33


  1. Diana Morris

    So much to see so close to home !!!

    • Steve Wilson

      Indeed! We are blessed to have so much so close!

  2. Ingrid Nelson

    I wanna go with you !!

    • Steve Wilson

      Come on down – we’ll go again anytime!!


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