Elevation: 737 ft
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Shared By: M. Morley on Feb 13, 2006
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From Bob Banks, author of "Ocean's 11: Bouldering Around Santa Barbara" (posted 2/6/05 on bouldering.com):

As a result of the storms from December 2004 to January 2005, compounded by the fires of late 2003, The Swimming Hole, is for the most part, completely destroyed as a bouldering area. Covered extensively in my book Ocean's Eleven and mythologized in John Sherman's Stone Crusade, it lives on only in pictures, memories, and myths. A handful of the old problems remain, and the potential for anything new is pretty limited.....nothing will ever be a shade of what it once was. It's like Mother Nature built a breakwater around Maverick's and told all the surfers "You've had your fun. Time's up."

Bob Banks
Santa Barbara, California
February 6, 2005


Getting There

From the 126 in Fillmore, take A street north and merge with Goodenough Road. Paved road ends in the foothills, go left on dirt road about 4.5 miles to a pullout on the left and park. On foot, follow unmaintained dirt road about 3 miles down to creek. head downstream.


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Davi Rivas
Ventura, CA
Davi Rivas   Ventura, CA
River polished sandstone boulders. Severely decimated by 2004/05 winter storms. Not what it used to be.

From the 126 in Fillmore, take A street north and merge with Goodenough Road. Paved road ends in the foothills, go left on dirt road about 4.5 miles to a pullout on the left and park. On foot, follow unmaintained dirt road about 3 miles down to creek. head downstream. Feb 16, 2006
Dan Hehnke
Santa Barbara, CA
Dan Hehnke   Santa Barbara, CA
Not that I doubt your reports, but having not been there since the storms, why is there no new potential for routes? Is the newly tumbled/exposed rock just choss? Just wondering. Jan 2, 2010
Davi Rivas
Ventura, CA
Davi Rivas   Ventura, CA
Hey Dan,
The high water of the 04-05 winter storm did'nt just move the boulders around, it literally picked the boulders up and smashed them to bits! Boulders like Ape Shit and XXX are just plain gone now.
The AJP Boulder is about 4 feet high now, buried in sand. The Wave Boulder was flipped up-side down; some potential there though not very exciting. With the exception of the areas proudest line, Aquaman, the area around the Swimming Hole proper is more or less intact. Locals Only, Abra-Cadaver, Flashflood, Lichen Face are all still good. Below the Swimming Hole proper, Death Arete and The Handicapper still go but they're not a fearsome as they used to be(or as their names imply). And thats pretty much it.
As far as new stuff goes, I think maybe we need some new eyes down there. For me, its hard to walk around down there without being reminded of what it used to be like, which is dis-hartening. I can only imagine what its like for Jeff Johnson and Paul Anderson(two of the areas pioneers); prolly like the death of a close friend or family member.
Now with that said, my 11 year old son Carlo and his friends think Tar Creek is the greatest place on earth. Bouldering, swimming, waterfalls, condors; what eles could a dirtbag kid want. He and his pals have no idea what The Swimming Hole used to be like. As far as thy're concerned, that place is fine just the way it is. Thats what I mean by "new eyes".
Perhaps it may be some consolation to Mr. Johnson and Mr. Anderson that here today in 2010, there are a pack of local "tweens", who are thinking they are the shit, down there in Tar Creek shredding their fingertips and knuckles, believing that they're on to some "secret" spot that only a few people know about. And they get silly with it; "the first rule of Tar Creek is we dont talk about Tar Creek". To them, the place belongs to them and is full of potential.
My recomendation to the returning visitor; bring some youngsters with you, they're gonna look at the place differently than you will. To the first time visitor, leave the guide book home (sorry Bob) and bring your imagination.
I'll post some recent pictures, but you should come down and check it out for yourself.
davi. Feb 4, 2010
Davi, you are so right about fresh eyes...I've been to the Swimming Hole since the destruction and have felt more loss than inspiration, for the most part.

That being said there has been some bouldering activity by me and some of our crew. We would love to meet you and your son down there. You in?

Jeff Johnson

P.S. It was a funeral. Jan 22, 2012
A little something I wrote up on The Swimming Hole along with a video of some of the old classic boulder problems (none of which remain).

Swimming Hole Tribute and Video

On a side note, as Jeff alluded to, we don't go down much at all anymore (too depressing) but two of our Crew hiked down last Saturday and found the place completely trashed. They removed and cleaned every fire-pit and carried out two bags of garbage, including bags of charcoals, an ice chest, and many, many cans and food packaging. Very sad. Dec 29, 2012
Alan Zhan
Seattle, WA
Alan Zhan   Seattle, WA
Was interested in checking this place out this summer, but it appears that Tar Creek is officially closed. The area marked as Sespe Condor Sanctuary is closed to the public.
map: fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DO…
fs.usda.gov/detail/lpnf/ale… Jul 27, 2018