WHEELER GORGE VISITOR CENTER
Teaching others how to take care of the forest.
Located 8 miles above Ojai on Highway 33, at 17017 Mari Copa Hwy, Ojai California is the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, the gateway to the southern portion of the Los Padres National Forest. The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is the first dedicated visitor center in the 100 year history of the forest. The center operates under a permit from the Forest Service. Since opening in June 2001, the center has served many visitors.
The Center provides to the public about the Los Padres National Forest. In addition, the center sells local hiking trail maps and wilderness maps, Adventure Passes (annual, second vehicle and one day), books and other items.
The trained staff can help guide you to a variety of recreational activities and educational opportunities in the forest. Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center has educational programs between May and September on Saturdays. Also includes membership functions within our summer programs.
We consider the visitor center to be a community center for local communities such as the Ojai Valley, Ventura, Santa Paula, Camarillo, Oxnard and many outlying areas such as Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, and San Fernando Valley. The center has displays of both local wildlife as well as ones from the prehistoric past.
The center has a conference room, classroom, audiovisual equipment and an outdoor classroom under the trees, a parking area and outside picnic area. The center serves as a staging area for training Boy Scouts, both youth and adults in a trail maintenance program within the forest.
Become a member of the Los Padres Forest Association Ojai Chapter Committee and help with our center, programs and many other events throughout the year. We are always looking for help in any way that you can contribute. We especially need help from volunteers with construction skills that include hammering, dry walling, sawing and painting. The center is open on Saturdays and Sundays only from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and closed during certain holidays. Our center is currently undergoing repairs and remodeling and we are designing a new display area. The master plan includes building an amphitheater and a new parking lot.
In addition, our master plan will include opening the center to local schools and youth groups during the weekdays. We look forward to the implementation of this program and many other additions to the center in the near future. Funding for the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and its programs comes from donations and sales at the center. Your support will help us continue to improve the center displays and programs.
Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center
17017 Maricopa Highway
Ojai, CA 93023
Telephone: (805) 640-9060
Fax: (805) 640-9059
To reach Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center from Ventura take Highway 33 towards Ojai at the “Y” intersection (by the Vons shopping center) turn left on Hwy 33 for 8 miles. From the Carpentaria area, take Hwy 150 east until you connect with Hwy33 and turn left at the intersection.
Hours of Operation
The Wheeler Gorge(ous) Visitor Center is currently opened from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Wheeler Gorge Open House -
May 10th, 10am – 2pm
There are three memorable tunnels along Highway 33 about fifteen minutes north of Ojai. The tunnels are needed in order to drive through Wheeler Gorge, which is a narrow twisted section of Matilija Creek where water has sliced sheer cliffs through the mountains. The drive through Wheeler Gorge gives a true sensation of leaving civilization behind and entering the heart of the Los Padres National Forest. Just on the wild side of the gorge is a campground and visitor center also called Wheeler Gorge. The visitor center is managed by the Los Padres Forest Association with the goal of educating forest users on the flora, fauna and natural history of the forest as well as providing information for Los Padres recreational users. The Visitor Center is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this weekend and will be hosting an Open House event on Saturday from 10am – 2pm. The Open House will feature almost 20 booths highlighting local organizations and forest celebrities. There will also be presentations, a hosted nature walk, a book signing and even a cameo from Smokey Bear. Some of the attendees include:
- Santa Barbara Zoo
- Sierra Club
- Friends of the California Condor
- Autobon Society
- The latest in backpacking and camping gear
- Trail work techniques and gear
- Los Padres Forest Association
- Humane Society
- The Forest Service
The Open House is geared for all ages with a special emphasis towards encouraging children to discover and explore our local wild places. No matter if you’re a grizzled veteran of the Los Padres or just looking for a fun destination for the weekend, there is something exciting to learn this Saturday at Wheeler Gorge. Bring your friends and family and we’ll see you at the Gorge.
Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center
17017 Maricopa Hwy
Directions to Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center