This Lodge, made by hand using the local indigenous materials, sits 300 feet above & overlooks the valley floor of Cuyama. A large fire ring is just off the porch looking across the valley where the sun sets into the Pacific behind the Los Padres mountains. The BBQ area is covered and provides a good working area for the chefs in your group.
- Check in: After 2PM
- Check out: Before 12PM
- Cancellation policy: Moderate
- On arrival: Go straight to camp
- Minimum nights: 2
- Accepts bookings: 12 months out
- Response time: Within an hour
- Response rate: 100%
Offered on the Host's property or nearby.
2 miles up the canyon is 7,000 acres of National forest that is dedicated to off roading. Ballinger Canyon.
Natural features you'll find at Speakeasy Lodge in California.
Places to see near Cuyama Badlands
The vibe at Speakeasy Lodge
If you stayed here and have some insider info for us, let us know!
Quite possibly the best family camping trip ever. The location is really quite perfect for large groups. We had 5 families (about 22 people) all kids in 1st grade. The area is huge and flat and on a high ridge, and best of all the location stands by itself -- no campsites anywhere near us (benefits of private land vs. national/state parks). The amenities are excellent. The lodge itself handles 15+ people on pads in sleeping bags with no problem. Most of the kids did a slumber party type thing inside while parents slept in tents scattered around the flat land outside (I slept on a pad under the stars both nights, it was amazing). There is potable water spigots all over the land. The bathroom is inside, rustic, but good. There is an outhouse also, nice but stinky as expected. There is plenty of hiking around. You can get to the top of a few peaks in an hour or two depending on your pace. All of the land has small shrubs so it's easy to trailblaze too.
One of the coolest things was that the main lodge is on a large plain, so you have a lot of flat area to play outdoor type games. I had a dream of playing kick the can and capture the flag like when i was 7 or 8 years old back in Connecticut. All these years, great memories of those games, but never had the crew or the space to do it right. Well, this is the spot. It's flat and big, but also has lots of shrubbery (3-10' high) for coverage, so it's not like playing on a big soccer field where there is little strategy. All the kids and parents played, and everyone got into it big time. It was a highlight for me.
Now, the cooking. Usually campsites have a fire pit and/or a small grill. You've got your propane stove and all that. But Speakeasy is different. They have a massive grill (you see the pics in the listing). It's split between two adjustable height grill plates and a huge basin for logs and charcoal. We cooked up a storm. I will say it takes a good 1-2 hours to get the grill going b/c you need a fair amount of wood to get coverage on the cooking area. But after the smoke dies down and you've got a smoldering fire, man, the grill rules. We figured out the second day to just keep the grill going throughout so we could just add logs when it was cooking time. Ribs, tri-tip, beans and fixings the first night. Griddle blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit and more for breakfast. Hamburgers and hotdogs and leftovers from night 1 on the second night. We crushed it.
S'mores of course.
One other cool thing. I had wanted to introduce the kids to model rocketry and this trip served as a great spot to do it. We found a great flat area about 1/2 a mile up the ridge to launch. But it was windy so I was concerned with the rocket getting carried away with the parachute.... it did. We lost track of it sailing away maybe 1-2 miles across the canyon. When I originally asked the owner if we could launch rockets from there he said "great idea, I know the kids have lost more than a few in the decades past". He was right. But it still was fun to watch it sail off into the distance.
All-in-all it was a killer trip. I expect we'll hit Speakeasy up again, but I'm sold on the group trips. Keeping kids happy when there are 10+ of them is so much easier. This left much more time for the adults to enjoy themselves. Awesome time.
Need a place to escape? Speakeasy may be the perfect place for your group. It was for ours! It's an easy drive from Los Angeles, and you will surely feel yourself drift off into the quiet of the badlands.
Why we loved it?
- Flexible sleeping options: Pitch tents around the lodge for privacy and the traditional camping experience or throw a cozy slumber party inside using the sleeping mats provided. The lodge was our home base for the weekend. We were able to fit 12 adults (could have fit more) very comfortably inside one night when it rained.
-Amenities: There is running water, electricity, kitchen (w/ fridge/freezer, oven/stove, pots/pans, utensils, cookware, bar), bathroom (with cold shower), and a wood-burning fireplace. You can choose how glampy or campy you want to be!
-Amazing Host: Jim and his dogs are absolutely wonderful. Don't be surprised when his dog Jill visits with her pine cone to play fetch with.
-Space: Plenty of picnic benches and places to sit. No need to bring extra unless you have 20 people. Great for outdoor games like corn-hole, multiple firepits, easy walking trails, etc.
-Firewood: This is a HUGE perk. Chopped firewood is complimentary during your stay. If you've ever been camping before you know how much this can cost...and it adds up so FREE firewood was amazing.
A few tips:
1. Try to arrive during the DAY. Most of us got there before dark, but my brother came up at night, and it can seem almost impossible to find. You can stop at the house on the left on the main drag and Jim will guide you up the hill, but this is MUCH easier to do in daylight.
2. Limited cell reception (for most providers). I have AT&T and had a good signal, but for many others, once you turn onto the main road, you're signal is toast. If you are taking multiple cars to the lodge, it's a good idea to give your other guests driving separately the host's information in case they have trouble finding it because you will not be able to communicate much once your up that hill.
3. This goes without saying, but bring all the food, beer, and stuff you'll need for the weekend. There isn't a convenient store (which is a good thing) or camp shop nearby, just some local stores and a Kmart in the surrounding area. Pack your coolers full.
4. You may have a feral cat visit at night in the back room. He won't hurt you, he seems to stay in the ceiling area, and no you're not crazy, you really heard a bellowing meow. The first night, we were a little surprised and thought an animal got in the house from outside. Once you know who it is (we named him Leopold), then rest easy. I think he just gets nervous when the wind howls and he will definitely let you know he's scared.
We don't really have any negatives to say about the place. If you're looking for mountains, streams, trees, etc. this may not be your hipcamp spot. However, the view of the Los Padres Mountains, palpable sunsets, whimsical starry nights, and the memories you will make with your friends and family at Speakeasy all the more make up for any shortcoming. We will be back! :)
Went with a group of 6 friends and had an amazing time. Beautiful scenery, off the grid, beautiful night skies. Jim, the owner, was very hospitable + easy to communicate with.
Would recommend to friends. Hope to come back soon!
This was a wonderful glamping experience! It was perfect for a group of 15, and would be good for larger. Beautiful views, and the space itself was amazing. The grill is huge and we were able to cook up a feast. Bathroom on site in the lodge, along with a stove, small fridge, and pots and pans. Our host Jim also provided all the firewood. Most of us camped in tents, but there's space to sleep inside the lodge and also access to about 20 sleeping pads. Our group had three dogs, and then the owner's dog hung with us the whole time and played fetch, which was great. There's also plenty of hiking trails straight from the camp, and we discovered an abandoned tree house. Lots of stars at night. Will definitely be back here!
The landowner Jim and his dog Jill were probably the highlights of our weekend. What a friendly, hilarious pair. We had a great time! We were a little underprepared, but thankfully the shelter had a small stove we could use and a couple pots, and Jim brought us some paper plates and silverware. :) The area is super beautiful. During the day, we'd just go on drives and stop at random points and explore. Simply gorgeous.
Spent 4th of July weekend at the lodge with 7 others + 2 dogs. Great desert lodge vibes: cacti, dung beetles, stars, camp fires, rustic grill, coyote yips. The dogs that came with the ranch, Jill and Gypsy, were the best! They hung out with us for all 3 nights and now I miss those girls. Jim was super accommodating and easy to communicate with. The location is perfect being relatively close to Los Padres National Park and Ojai. It's far enough away from everything to deliver the perfect starry night sky. 10/10 would for sure stay again.
The Speakeasy Lodge couldn't have been a more perfect fit for what we were seeking for a long weekend of camping. We wanted nature, epic views, quiet space, fires, the moon and stars and we got all of that and more. Our group of 11 ladies all slept slumber party style in the lodge itself and had a great time, stayed cozy with the fireplace roaring all night (given it was mid-February) and slept comfortably on the sleeping pads that were provided inside the lodge. We loved having the ranch dogs keeping us company throughout the days sometimes and often hanging out protecting the lodge by night, it seemed! We wanted a full on, off-grid glamping experience and the Speakeasy Lodge couldn't have been a more perfect fit for us. We had an amazing time and Jim was very kind and beyond accommodating. We would absolutely come back another time!
Jim was a fantastic host! very friendly, accommodating, and quick to respond
- provided great directions to lodge site (BONUS: friendly dog who led the way & loved to play fetch!)
- left side lights & dining table light on for us until 10PM
- always answered when contacted via phone
- answers questions quickly
- checked up on us daily & didn't intrude our space
Lodge is great for groups of people & lots of activities!
- HUGE, beautiful, fun grill we used to cook almost every meal
- wood & lighter fluid included
- lots of open space (we set up 3 tents & one huge truck in front)
- room to play slosh ball, corn hole, set up a collapsing table
- working toilet (helped a lot with 13 people at the site)
- all utilities available in kitchen
- salt, pepper, foil, toilet paper, plastic utensils were all included at lodge
- spacious inside! huge dining table & we fit 2 air mattresses for those who were cold
- dog friendly
Only improvement I can recommend is to provide warm water (cold water available only), but who showers during a camping trip anyway? :b
friends & I will return & would recommend to anyone interested in a fun, quiet, secluded, camping trip!
We had a fabulous time celebrating my sister's bachelorette party! The lodge accommodates all 20 of us ladies. We bbq'd, hiked, went horseback riding, and watched beautiful sunsets! The host was super accommodating as well.