The words "government efficiency" may seem like an oxymoron, but not in the case of the new Santa Monica Mountains interagency visitor center, set to open June 9 at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas. The new headquarters for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area will also house the various agencies, all in one place, that manage the sprawling mountain range. Now that's efficient.
Hikers, riders, campers and other outdoor lovers of the Santa Monica Mountains will have a bigger and better visitor center smack dab in the middle of the mountains and closer to some of the Santa Monicas' prime recreation spots.
Navigating the patchwork of land agencies that make up the Santa Monica Mountains has been a challenge for outdoor enthusiasts. The current headquarters for the recreation area, which is part of the National Park Service, is in Thousand Oaks — not exactly convenient to the area's best hiking. And then there's the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which operates King Gillette Ranch, and various California state parks, which each have their own trails, campgrounds and visitor centers. Can't blame you for being confused.
But the new interagency visitor center just east of Malibu Creek State Park will be one-stop shopping. Rangers and volunteers from the park service, conservancy and state parks will be on hand to provide information and maps for dozens of trails in the Santa Monicas, stretching from Hollywood Hills to Point Mugu State Park.