Santa Maria River

Santa Barbara County, California.

Santa Maria River midpoint in Santa Maria, California.

Santa Maria River ends in Guadalupe, California.

10 feet (3 meters)

24.17 miles long (38.90 kilometers)

405632.68 miles (652802.72 sq kilometers)

About The Santa Maria River

About Santa Maria River, CA

The Santa Maria River, located on the Central Coast of California, is formed at the convergence of the Cuyama and Siquoc Rivers. It can be found just east of Santa Maria, flowing 24.4 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The whole river defines the border between Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County, with Highway 101 passing through it. The tectonic Santa Maria River Fault corresponds with the river’s course.

For most of the year, the river has very little water but can swell during winter storms. It rises to a maximum elevation of around 390 feet and flows to the Pacific Ocean. The river’s watershed is one of the largest coastal watersheds in California. Before the construction of a massive levee system,  floodwaters regularly inundated the Santa Maria city, transforming its streets into something akin to Venice. The Los Padres National Forest also dominates most of the watershed.

Federally endangered southern California steelhead is supported by the Santa Maria River watershed. The fish are the subject of a lawsuit that aims to ensure dam operations comply with California Fish and Game Code Section 5937, calling for operators to keep fish dow