The Ventura-Maricopa Highway (California Route 33), and the section known as Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway (in honor of the first Hispanic National Forest Ranger), must have been specifically created for motorcyclists. Either that, or motorbikes were created in anticipation of this roadway: Motorcycles and Route 33 are a marriage made in scenic-riding, motorbike heaven.
In fact, the first riders to cross these rugged Central California Mountains, making their way to the Pacific, did so before the actual road was even built. As part of a publicity stunt to call attention to the proposed roadway, in December of 1927, two bikers negotiated the planned route, and at the end were honored at a celebratory dinner in Ventura by the boards of supervisors of Ventura and Kern counties.
Construction of the road began in the spring of 1929 and was completed in 1933 to establish the Ventura-Maricopa Highway, also known as California Route 33. The part that serpentines through Los Padres National Forest was designated a California Scenic Highway in 1972, and in 1995 it was designated a National Forest Scenic Byway.
The entirety of Route 33 is about 290 miles long, and the section designated as the Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway follows a 40-mile twisty strip of that road through the Los Padres National Forest, with some of the most picturesque and diverse terrain in southern California. Included in your ride are steep canyons and rivers, valley vistas, endless mountains, with pine forests at the tops, semi-desert vegetation throughout, and massive rock formations jutting formidably out of the earth.
Spectacular views greet you along the entire way, while wheeling your bike up and down and all around.
And it’s quiet. A sense of solitude and isolation greets any rider.
It’s a different California altogether from those of us ensconced within the whole megalopolis called “Southern California” with all its people. And for anyone who gets stuck in traffic routinely, they might argue there are too many. At 24 million persons, Southern Cal packs a punch when it comes to popularity.
However, those folks are “not” along Route 33, from sea level at the Pacific Ocean in Ventura, to 5020 feet in elevation at the Pine Mountain Pass. Wanna go higher? Take a little adventure-riding, jeep-road detour, at the top of that Pine Mountain Pass, and make your way towards Reyes Peak (7570 elevation).
Whether you are a canyon-carving, sportbike racer, dual-purpose rider, adventure enthusiast, easy-going cruiser, sport-touring explorer, or luxury-touring wanderer, this is a road that is all about motorbike pleasure.
And as a special bonus for all riders to enjoy as part of this ongoing motorbike marriage, Route 33 is bisected by another gorgeous strip of motorcycle bliss: California Route 150 and even shares some pavement with California Highway 166, infamous for its agitation of Runaway Throttle Syndrome.
Ride ’em. Enjoy’em.