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Exploring the California Central Coast


Nearly secret, San Antonio Valley is an intriguing short range destination. About two and a half hours from Silicon Valley, yet far more remote in history, it provides environmental, literary, cultural and historical rewards.
San Antonio Valley is the setting for John Stenbeck’s To An Unknown God an early novel of his spiritual and ecological themes.

••Where to stay ••• & Explore

The Hacienda on Fort Hunter Liggett was built by Julia Morgan for Hearst as a hunting lodge – and it is a delicious find for historical romantics. The San Antonio Mission is practically next door – and indeed, was renovated by Hearst’s mother Phoebe. Ventana Wilderness is one of America’s most exciting protected areas, and it begins at San Antonio Valley. Salinan Indians are recovering their cultural heritage in the Valley, and preserving historical sites.

Of all Spanish California missions, San Antonio de Padua is the most faithfully restored. You can tell what a real mission was really like. Artifacts of the missionaries and their neophytes are on display. Frescoes of daily life, and restoration of the mission’s workings make it a valuable and educational museum.

200 years ago California missions were outposts in the wilderness, with a military camp nearby. This one still is.

Mission San Antonio de Padua

Purple Soap Plant
Rare native lillie grows only by the homeland of the Salinan Indians. It was only recently listed as threatened by the US. Click the photo for a bigger picture and our Nature Guide with a coloring page.

Hacienda Lodge

Where Hearst’s guest stayed while hunting the back country. Built by Julia Morgan

Painted Cave In a corner of the Valley is a Salinan Indian Heritage site. The Pictograph cave represents a peaceful, intellectual lifestyle of the Salinans. The site is secret, but can be visited with special permission.
See about becoming a Site Steward
Painted Cave
San Antonio Valley reaches into the Ventana Wilderness. Streams in the Valley feed the San Antonio River, and were lifelines for a prosperous Indian population.

Cliffs like these ring the valley, and contain a cacophony of natural secrets and human hideouts.

Looking South East leaving Ventana Wilderness- early morning.

Sta’yokale is the Salinan Indian name for the greatest mountain in the Santa Lucia range.

5,862 feet in elevation, this mountain punctuates the north end of the Valley. Named for Father Serra by the U.S. Congress, and found on official maps as Serra Peak.

See Ventana Wilderness

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Driving to San Antonio Valley

Directions and Travelogue

Photo at left: Bear Valley

Another route is from Big Sur over the Santa Lucia Mountains on Nacimiento Road

Story about Hwy One – The Big Sur Road

See the Salinan Nation Painted Cave

Read a Ghost Story by Salinan Writer Debra Krol

Excellent and reasonable accommodations can be found at Keefer’s Inn in King City (831.385.4843). Mention PelicanNetwork, and you will receive our discount rate. King City is a great place to overnight, and to use as a base camp for exploring the missions, wineries, Ventana Wilderness, Pinnacles and Salinas Valley. Good pool, hot tub and a very good restaurant, famous for its bean soup.

Click here to see more of Keefer’s Inn and exploring the Central Coast Interior
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The Butterfly Center at Santa Cruz Park Friends. Books from the online Park Store. See the Monarch Miracle in the Natural Bridges Sanctuary.

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An arts and nature guide to an infinitely interesting region. Pelican takes the conscientious traveler behind the cover and into the natural and cultural history that makes Central Coastal California so exciting.

Coming here soon: regional art crafts, community theater, galleries, events for arts and/or environment, regional cuisine and organic foods and flowers.


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