Rock Crashes Onto Gibraltar Road

By Tyler Casper

[On Wednesday], a massive boulder tumbled down the Santa Barbara mountains (above Cielito), and took out a portion of Gibraltar Rd. It was spectacular to see, so I had to take a few photos.

For reference, the road here is completely impassable other than by foot, though you can technically access the site from either direction. That said, the hillside is clearly rather unstable, so if your curiosity compels you to visit, proceed with caution!!

I was fortunate enough to have already passed the massive rock by the time it came down, but not by long! The location is three and a half miles from where Gibraltar Rd intersects El Cielito Rd (more than half of the way to East Camino Cielo).

Photo by Tyler Casper

Update by the County of Santa Barbara, Public Works Department

Here’s a reminder of why it’s a terrible idea to evade road closure signs.

Gibraltar Road was already closed due to slipouts from previous storms, and now it is impassable due to this large boulder and other rocks in the road.

Photos by County Public Works


Written by Anonymous

What do you think?


2 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


  1. Impressive photo, with the vehicle giving us an indication of the boulder’s massive size. Reminds me of all the boulders in Rocky Nook Park, brought down through the ages by forces of nature in Mission Canyon. Boulders rolling downhill through the canyons now would be nothing short of catastrophic…Hopefully soon, road crews will get some dynamite and blow the boulder up into smaller, more manageable bits and pieces.

  2. I’d be concerned that 1. that boulder might continue its journey downhill, considering the soil is saturated and likely moving and 2. that more stuff will be coming down. Just because it has stopped raining does not mean that slides magically stop. The soil is still unstable. Everywhere. Not to mention that more rains are on the way.
    I hope (do not trust) that road engineers and construction workers are on it.

  3. Thank you for the story Tyler! This is extremely concerning. That massive boulder is poised above the 2600 to 2700 block of Gibraltar Road where there are at least three houses in a potential pathway. If anyone from the Santa Barbara County Roads department is reading these posts can you please comment and let us all know if your teams will be removing that potential catastrophic threat to life and property today?????

  4. Sorry to see this dialogue devolve into a political argument. On any given day there are more bicyclists, joggers and hikers on Gibraltar Road than cars. Gibraltar Road, with the freshest air and most spectacular views, is a magnificent resource for the entire Santa Barbara community. The City and County need to maintain Gibraltar in safe condition for everyone, not just the few fortunate homeowners who live up there. The argument that people who pay more than $20K per year in County property taxes for local government services (like road maintenance) should be left to fend for themselves, simply because they can afford those high taxes in the first place
    , is non sensical.

  5. Andrea smith. FYI we are not all wealthy who live up here. We work hard and like the rest of the country are having a rough timekeeping up with life. We pay very high property taxes for such road problems. Some of us up here on the hill have had our places for many years and yes we could not afford to buy them now.

  6. Andrea Smith. It’s clear you don’t understand what you’re talking about. The majority of the folks living up there are very hard working, decent locals that care deeply about where they live. They are part of the backbone of this city. Where are you from? And just so you know, we were the first people clearing the road by hand and with whatever means we had.

  7. Tagdes: If you go up there and look down, there is a machine made track with a faint trail down in the canyon and out toward Rattlesnake and out to the Radio tower access road. I’d put a person at each end (out of danger) to block any foot traffic just in case. That rock is heavy, but has an undercut could be moved with a lever. A powerful front end loader could also lever it over the side, or better yet, leave it and make everyone slow down

  8. Andrea. An anecdote. I rode my bike up to La Cumbre Peak via Gibraltar a couple years back. No problems. On the way back 70 yards from Flores Flats there was a big rock slide the residents were removing. Lucky me I did not get hit. The residents were carrying small rock and also had a 30 year old ancient forklift for the big stuff. They had it cleared before the County could mobilize. Today I rode up past the boulder in the photo. There was a guy there who had cleared the road with his skiploader tractor so all of the road was open except the small piece impeded by the boulder. In years gone by, Gene Winkler would clear the road with his equipment, Charlie Duff would do the same. The people up there are fairly self reliant, good people who like living up above to noise and nonsense and do not deserve your slap

Construction Continues for the Westside Community Paseos Project

Nearly 4% Decrease in Homelessness Countywide