lone rider crosses a grassy field. Although the scene looks as though it might be the opening titles from a Hollywood western, the photo was taken recently at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, a National Park Service site in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Newbury Park. This pristine natural vista is in our own backyard and within easy striking distance for hikers and adventurers.
The place has a rich history which visitors can explore at the Satwiwa Indian Cultural Center. The area was home to the Chumash who lived peacefully among the rolling hills for many years. “Satwiwa,” which means “bluffs,” was the name of a nearby Chumash village and, according to the National Park Service, Sycamore Canyon, which runs through the Rancho, was an important part of a Chumash trade route. In 1803, the king of Spain granted more than 48,000 acres of the land to former soldiers Jose Polanco and Ignacio Rodriguez, calling it Rancho El Conejo. Over the years, that land was subdivided into smaller parcels. Today, much of it remains in its natural state for all to enjoy, including the Rancho Sierra Vista site.