La Purisima Mission
Surrounded by wide open spaces and large ranches gets you in the mood for taking a ride or a hike in Gods country, but where?
On the outskirts of Lompoc sits La Purisima Mission. It is the eleventh of the twenty-one California missions and was founded in 1787, around the same time as the Santa Barbara Mission (1786), and Mission Santa Inez (1804). The mission encompasses 2000 acres, with 25 miles of trails,
Everyone is welcome as if it were your own ranch. Bring the horses and ride. Hike for what seems forever or sit down and relax with a picnic surrounded by shade trees and history.
During the first few years in operation, La Purisima mission prospered greatly. The founders baptized several thousand Chumash into the Catholic faith, built over 100 adobe buildings, as well as an aqueduct system that delivered water to the mission for all of the people, crops and livestock. The mission was damaged beyond repair in 1812 due to earthquakes and flooding, was rebuilt in the spot it sits now, and quickly became a thriving community once again. Today, 1,928 acres remain from the original 300,000 acres, and ten of the original buildings, including much of the aqueduct system, have been restored and furnished authentically.
La Purisima is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Visitors are able to meander the mission buildings, or wait for the daily guided tour, and then see authentic artifacts and diagrams in the museum. The hiking trails around the mission range from an easy stroll on the “lower loop” to a more vigorous trek on the outer trails. The trails are very well maintained, partially because the park service there are no motorized vehicles past the parking area.
A large parking area invites horses and horse trailers. It is a common meeting place for riding groups like the Fillies or the Rocky Mountain Horse group. Trails, climb up providing breathtaking aerial views of the mission and of the town of Lompoc.
There are also many places to stop for a picnic while on the trail, or after the ride, you can take lunch over to the oak tree shaded picnic tables and watch the squirrels play as you relax and eat.
La Purisima Mission is a great place to bring kids as well. Almost every day of the year, for just $6 per car you can do a self guided tour through the mission and let the kids roam through the authentic Chumash tee pees and watch the livestock that still reside in the park. At 1 pm each day, groups can go on docent led tours, and sometimes the volunteers feeding the livestock will even let the kids help feed the animals a carrot or two. As well as the everyday tours, a few times a year visitors can see costumed docents doing activities that were common during the time period such as; pottery, weaving, tortilla making and blacksmithing. For more information on mission activities and dates, visit www.lapurisimamission.org.
With such a variety of activities available for such a reasonable price, La Purisima Mission is a community gem for tourists and locals alike.