Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Bottom: Mountain Lion, NPS photo
Top Left: The LA Skyline, NPS photo
Top Right: Mulholland, NPS photo

At over 150,000 acres, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, located within and adjacent to the city of Los Angeles, is the world's largest urban national park. Since its establishment in 1978, the park has grown to include many individual parks and protected areas in the greater Los Angeles area through partnerships with state and local agencies, universities, and other groups. Combined, these protected spaces preserve one of the last remaining examples of a relatively undisturbed Mediterranean-type ecosystem in the world.

A unique climate, diverse topography, and other factors help to create a complex assemblage of vegetation types including oak woodland, several types of chaparral, coastal sage scrub, valley oak savanna, grassland, riparian woodland, wetland, and coastal marsh. This diversity in vegetation provides abundant mountain, canyon, beach, and rocky shoreline habitat for over 3000 species of organisms, including approximately 500 mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian species.

The landscape of the Santa Monica Mountains was not just created by geological forces, altered by weather, or covered by vegetation, but shaped by the people who lived and worked here, from the Chumash and Tongva, later the Spanish Explorers, and followed by Rancheros and Homesteaders who worked the land they lived on. Still today, people work, travel, and recreate in the Santa Monica Mountains and call this place their home.

See the links to the right to learn more about the park’s natural resources, research opportunities, and how to get involved through volunteering or an internship.