Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve hosts a diversity of habitat types in close proximity: Monterey pine/coast live oak forest, California coastal prairie, northern coastal sage scrub, freshwater ponds, and marine subtidal and intertidal areas. The reserve is located 80 miles north of Point Conception, the most significant biogeographical transition zone in coastal California, and just south of the town of Cambria. Lands include 2 miles of coastline approximately 1 km (0.6 mi.) wide, and covers approximately 500 acres. Reserve lands extend from the sea to a 700 ft. ridge. It is managed by UC Santa Barbara, but remains in private ownership.  The reserve is used year-round by researchers, classes, and stewards. Visits can be arranged by advance reservation. However, the site is not open to the public, and please, no drop in visitors.   

The name of the reserve honors Kenneth S. Norris, one of the founding faculty members of the University of California Natural Reserve System.  

The Reserve is relatively close to several UC campuses: driving times are 2 hours from UC Santa Barbara, 3 hours from UC Santa Cruz, and 4.5 hours from UC Los Angeles or UC Berkeley.

Learn more about history of the reserve.

Fact Sheet

  • Administering Campus: UC Santa Barbara
  • Established: 2001
  • Location: San Luis Obispo County, adjacent to the south end of Cambria
  • Size:  500 acres, including 2 miles of rocky coastline
  • Elevation: 0 to 700 feet
  • Average Temperatures
    Summer High—84 F
    Summer Low—60 F
    Winter Low—51 F
    Winter High—64 F
  • Personnel
    On-site staff reserve manager