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Malibu Creek State Park Guide — Camping, Visitor Center, and More

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

Countries Visited: 44U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Malibu Creek State Park is a stunning natural park in the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, California, offering many outdoor activities. The park has over 35 miles of hiking trails, a designated area for horseback riding, and climbing routes. Visitors can also explore the sets used in popular TV shows and movies filmed in the park.

Around 250,000 visitors come here annually due to its breathtaking beauty and exciting recreational opportunities. This park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience California’s natural beauty and outdoor adventures.

How To Get to Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is an amazing natural wonder just 25 miles from the bustling city of Los Angeles. The closest major city to the park is Calabasas. It is nestled in over 8,000 acres of beautiful landscape, including picturesque canyon vistas, lush oak woodlands, rugged, jagged peaks, rolling hills, and a unique swimming hole. 

Opening Hours and Seasons

Malibu Creek State Park is open all year round, from dawn until dusk. The visitor center is open only on weekends, from 12 to 4 p.m. Some activities are available only on weekends, while others are always available. You should check beforehand to ensure all the activities on your list are available.

Nearest Airports

The state park is located an hour from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the closest airport to the park. 

This airport offers nonstop and connecting flights to a wide range of global destinations, such as Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Puerto Vallarta, and Tokyo. Several major airlines provide services at this airport, including Aeromexico, British Airways, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. 

Once you land at the airport, you can easily reach the park by renting a car for the final leg of your journey.

Driving to Malibu Creek State Park

There are a few ways to reach this park, depending on whether you are approaching from the beach or the freeway. 

When coming from the beach, take Pacific Highway North/West and head towards Malibu Canyon Road. Once you reach Pepperdine University, turn right and pass through the tunnel. Continue driving past the light at Piuma Road, and just before the next light, turn left into Malibu Creek State Park. 

On the other hand, if you are approaching from the 101 Freeway, take the Las Virgenes Road exit in Calabasas and head south for a few miles until you reach Mulholland Highway, which will be the first intersection. The park will be on your right, just past Mulholland.

Taking the Train to Malibu Creek State Park

Unfortunately, no direct train services reach the state park directly. However, don’t let that discourage you from visiting! There are a few options for getting close to the park. One of the best options is to take the Santa Monica Metro E Line, which offers services to Santa Monica. From there, it’s a 20-mile drive to the park. 

Taking the Bus to Malibu Creek State Park

There is no direct bus service to the park. 

Getting Around Malibu Creek State Park

Getting Around Malibu Creek State Park
Image Credit: Brian Baer via California State Parks

When you arrive at the state park, you’ll find a parking lot where you can leave your car. Several miles of trails are available for hiking, biking, or horseback riding, so you’ll have plenty of options based on your interests and skill level. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated as you explore the state park’s magnificent trails.

What To See and Do at Malibu Creek State Park

This state park offers much to explore and experience. Visitors can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and even exploring old television show sets. Take a look at the most popular sights and attractions available here.

Biking

Biking enthusiasts will love this park! The terrain is rugged and steep, which makes for an exhilarating and challenging tour through the park’s stunning natural beauty. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, you’re sure to find a trail that suits your skill level. Bulldog Road and Mesa Peak Motorway are 2 of the most popular biking routes in the park.

Bottom Line:

From the breathtaking views to the fresh mountain air, this park is a fantastic place to explore on 2 wheels.

Birdwatching

Malibu Creek State Park is an excellent location for birdwatching. For those interested in learning more about the birds in the area, the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society sponsors bird walks on the third Sunday of every month. These walks are perfect for beginners and intermediate birders and are free of charge. They typically last for 3.5 hours, during which you can expect to see 35 to 45 types of birds. 

You can also watch for birds while hiking through the park and exploring independently. It’s recommended to bring your camera and binoculars to get the best views of the birds. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just starting out, Malibu Creek State Park is a great location to see various birds and learn more about them.

Hiking

Hiking Malibu Creek State Park
Image Credit: Brian Baer via California State Parks

This park is a haven for hikers, with trails for walkers of all skill levels. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging climb, you’ll find a trail that suits you. Some popular hiking routes include the Crags Road/High Road Loop, Crags Road to “M*A*S*H” Set, and Mesa Peak Motorway. 

Hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the Santa Monica Mountains, old ranches, and the “M*A*S*H” set along the way. You might also spot some of the park’s wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and a variety of bird species.

Hiking novices will find plenty of easy trails to start on. For those with more experience, more challenging routes will test their fitness and endurance. Whatever your level of expertise, hiking is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park and get some exercise at the same time.

Horseback Riding

This park is a wonderful destination for horseback riders. One of the most popular locations within the park to enjoy this activity is the old Reagan Ranch, known for its long, gently rolling hills. These hills provide ideal terrain for horseback riding and offer a unique, exhilarating, and peaceful experience.

In addition to the Reagan Ranch, the park features other riding areas with varying difficulty levels, from easy to strenuous. Whether you are a seasoned rider or a beginner, the park has a perfect riding area.

Horseback riders who need a great place to ride will find this park worth visiting. Its beautiful scenery and excellent riding opportunities will surely provide a memorable experience for riders of all levels.

Kayaking

Century Lake is a picturesque water body in Malibu Creek State Park in Southern California. The lake is a rarity in this region’s state parks, making it a popular destination for visitors looking to enjoy a serene and peaceful environment.

The lake’s name originates from 20th Century Fox Studios, which owned the land before it was transformed into a state park. Visitors can paddle on the lake and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding hills and mountains.

However, visitors are advised to avoid the dam area, which can be dangerous due to its steep drop on the other side. It’s essential to take necessary precautions and follow all the rules and regulations to ensure a fun and safe experience at the park.

“M*A*S*H” Site

MASH Site
Image Credit: Robert Ruggiero via Unsplash

The park is perhaps best known for its most famous attraction, the “M*A*S*H” set site. Malibu Creek State Park was where the popular TV series “M*A*S*H” was filmed. The show aired for 11 seasons, with 251 episodes, and earned over 100 Emmy nominations. The site draws visitors from all over the world to see the iconic signpost and the restored buildings that were part of the set.

Visitors can hike to the site, located in a remote area of the park. Once there, they can explore the restored buildings, which include the mess tent, the operating room, and the iconic signpost. 

In addition to regular park visitors, special events are held at the site to commemorate the show for milestone anniversaries. These events attract thousands of fans from all over the world, who come to celebrate the show and its legacy.

Rock Climbing

This park offers a great opportunity for rock climbing enthusiasts. With a range of climbing options available, from 5.8 to 5.10c, this park caters to climbers of different skill levels. Most of the climbing opportunities are found along Rock Pool, a popular spot for climbers. Here, you can find 10 routes; some overhang the water, making for a unique and thrilling climbing experience.

The Planet of the Apes Wall is one of the park’s most popular and easiest climbs. This wall is named after the famous film series, as several of the movies were filmed here. The Apes area is almost entirely composed of overhanging routes, which can be challenging for climbers. However, it is also a great opportunity for experienced climbers to test their skills and push themselves to new heights.

Bottom Line:

Overall, this park is an excellent destination for rock-climbing enthusiasts. With a variety of climbing options available and stunning natural scenery, it is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a thrilling adventure.

Best Times To Visit Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is a fantastic place to visit, regardless of the time of year. However, certain times are better than others.

Best Time To Visit Malibu Creek State Park in the Winter

It’s worth noting that December is often considered the best time to visit during the winter. One of the main reasons for this is the lower chance of rain compared to other winter months.

With less precipitation, you can better enjoy this park’s beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. Additionally, the temperatures during December tend to range from the low 50s to upper 60s, making it comfortable for hiking and other outdoor adventures. 

Best Time To Visit Malibu Creek State Park To Avoid the Crowds

Those looking for a peaceful visit to the park without the hustle and bustle of crowds will find planning your trip in the fall could be a great option. November tends to be the least crowded time of year, which means you can explore the park at your own pace and fully take in the beauty of the surroundings without worrying about long lines, noisy crowds, or feeling rushed.

Best Time To Visit Malibu Creek State Park for Ideal Weather

Malibu Creek State Park for Ideal Weather
Image Credit: Brian Baer via California State Parks

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Malibu Creek State Park is in May, when the weather is ideal. You can expect sunny days and temperatures from the upper 50s to low 80s. This will ensure that you have a delightful experience while exploring the park.

Cheapest Time To Visit Malibu Creek State Park

The best time to visit this park without breaking the bank is early to mid-September. This is because schools resume after summer vacation, and travel decreases after Labor Day. During this month, flight and accommodation rates are at their lowest, meaning tourists can save hundreds of dollars on travel expenses.

Annual Events at Malibu Creek State Park

The park hosts various programs throughout the year on a regular schedule. 

The most frequent events occur on Saturday nights during summer in the campground amphitheater, usually lasting for an hour. Visitors can expect to see live animals from the Wildlife Learning Center and participate in night sky viewing with telescopes. On occasion, special guests may offer additional programming. 

Although no recurring annual events exist, visitors should attend a summer program to enjoy the park fully.

Where To Stay in Malibu Creek State Park

One of the most important things to consider when planning a trip is where to stay. Many choices are available for a comfortable stay, both within and outside the park’s boundaries.

Inside the Park

If you’re planning to stay within the park’s boundaries, the only lodging option is camping in the great outdoors. The park has a family-friendly campground with 63 campsites that can accommodate RVs, tents, and trailers.

The campground has several amenities to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. You’ll have access to restrooms, showers, fire rings, and picnic tables. Overall, the campground is an excellent option for those who want to experience the park’s beauty while enjoying the comforts of camping.

Towns Nearby

Many towns are a short drive from Malibu Creek State Park. Whether you prefer a peaceful town or a bustling city with plenty of activities, there is something for everyone nearby.

Calabasas, California

Calabasas is a city located 6 miles away from the park. It is considered one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. and is home to many celebrities. Visitors can choose from various accommodation options, including upscale hotels, budget-friendly options, and private rentals.

Food enthusiasts will be delighted with the hundreds of restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines, from steak dinners to vegan specialties. Calabasas has plenty of fun activities, such as museums, parks, theme parks, and shopping.

Bottom Line:

With its beautiful scenery, diverse food scene, and fun activities, it’s no wonder that Calabasas is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Westlake Village, California

Westlake Village is a charming city in the heart of Los Angeles County. This city offers many lodging options, including luxurious hotels, cozy bed and breakfasts, and stunning resorts. Visitors can indulge in diverse dining options, from chic restaurants serving gourmet cuisine to authentic cultural flavors and freshly caught seafood.

For those who love outdoor activities, there are nearby amusement parks, wineries, golf courses, parks, and theaters. The city is conveniently located just 15 minutes from the park, making it an excellent option for those who want to stay close by and enjoy all the city offers.

Where To Eat Near Malibu Creek State Park

Although no dining options are available within Malibu Creek State Park’s boundaries, plenty of restaurants are a short drive away. These restaurants offer a variety of choices ranging from freshly caught seafood to juicy burgers that cater to everyone’s taste.

Malibu Farm Restaurant and Bar

Malibu Farm Restaurant and Bar is just over 7 miles from the state park. It offers lunch and dinner options daily and brunch on weekends. Located at the beginning of the pier, it boasts stunning views and serves farm-to-table cuisine. 

The menu features a variety of dishes such as salads, pizzas, pasta, tacos, fresh seafood, and premium steak cuts. Customers particularly recommend the fish tacos, crab cakes, Malibu blue nachos, and lobster mac and cheese. Additionally, there are many options available for vegans, vegetarians, and those with dietary restrictions. Don’t forget to try one of the signature cocktails from the bar while you’re here.

While at Malibu Creek State Park, make sure to visit this unique restaurant. It’s the perfect spot to relax and refuel after exploring the park all day.

Malibu Seafood Patio Cafe

Malibu Seafood Patio Cafe is located 9 miles away from the park. This restaurant serves freshly caught seafood specialties for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The menu features classic favorites like crab salad, clam chowder, fish tacos, and grilled and fried specialties. Customers rave about the fish and chips, calamari, and the oysters. 

Not only can you enjoy a delicious meal here, but this restaurant also offers exceptional customer service and amazing views of the Pacific. It’s a great option for lunch or dinner when visiting this state park.

Malibu Creek State Park Facts

Malibu Creek State Park
Image Credit: Elijah Hiett via Unsplash

1. A New Park Established

This park was established in 1974 for filming movies and TV shows before being opened to the public in 1976.

2. Original People of the Park

The park has a rich history that dates back over 5,000 years, when the Chumash Native Americans were the original inhabitants of this area. They were known to settle in this land and call it their home for thousands of years, leaving behind a legacy of their culture and traditions that can still be seen today.

3. Lights, Camera, Action

The land where the park now stands was formerly owned by 20th Century Fox and was the location for many popular movies and TV shows. Shows like “M*A*S*H” and movies such as “Planet of the Apes,” “Love Me Tender,” and “Broken Lance” were all filmed here.

4. Malibu Creek

Malibu Creek flows through the center of the park, offering 15 miles of scenic trails for hiking. These trails provide breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanic rock gorges, scenic pools, and stunning Las Virgenes Valley and Malibu Canyon vistas.

5. Crags Country Club

Before becoming a popular filming location and state park, this park was a 2,000-acre country club called Crags Country Club, established in 1910 along Malibu Creek.

Final Thoughts

Malibu Creek State Park is a fantastic California park that offers a plethora of exciting activities to explore. Whether you love camping, hiking, birdwatching, or kayaking, this park has got you covered. California visitors should not miss out on the opportunity to visit this wonderful park and see for yourself what makes it so popular among visitors every year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Malibu Creek State Park?

The park charges a parking fee for visitors. All-day passes cost $12 per vehicle, while hourly passes cost between $3 and $9.

How much time should I spend visiting Malibu Creek State Park?

If you want to experience and appreciate the beauty of this park fully, it is recommended to set aside at least a full day for exploration. This will give you ample time to wander through the various trails, soak in the stunning scenery, and discover all the hidden gems this park has to offer.

Is there wildlife I should worry about encountering at Malibu Creek State Park?

Be aware that you may come across various species of snakes during your time in the park. In the event of encountering one, it is recommended that you calmly and safely walk around and away from it. Additionally, ticks are another pest found in the park, and some may carry diseases. To avoid potential risks, it is wise to check your clothing and exposed skin after hiking thoroughly.

Can I bring my dog to Malibu Creek State Park?

Dogs are permitted to enter the park, but only within the designated areas such as the parking lot and campground.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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