Open Space
Typical Trail Marker Signpost
The Varian Ranch Development consists of 3,127 acres of land bordered by Orcutt Road and Lopez Drive on the southwest and southeast property lines, extending up into the rolling oak-covered hills to the north to a point named "Slide Hill" on the USGS Arroyo Grande NE quadrant map.  See Varian Ranch Satellite Map for reference.
Of that total land space, more than 3,000 acres have been set aside to remain as Open Space for as long as the development exists, to be used only for agricultural purposes and to remain undeveloped.  The residents refer to those 3,000 acres as "the back of the Ranch" and they are owned by the Homeowners Association on behalf of the 48 individual lot owners.  The land is leased out for cattle grazing and growing citrus, which provides income for the HOA to help offset the cost of maintaining the ranch, our roads and our common use facilities.  But the open space is also treated by the residents like a private state park.  There are over 25 miles of designated trails used for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking, many with distant ocean views.  Thus the land is useful not only as a beautiful natural backdrop to the developed area, but a fun place for residents to explore and take along a nice picnic.
It is important for our current owners and any prospective future owners to understand why this land preservation distinction exists.  The Open Space preservation was a condition precedent to the approval of the Varian Ranch development plan.  Jack Varian entered into the agreement with the County, on behalf of himself and his successors in interest (the Varian Ranch Homeowners Association), whereby Jack granted an open-space easement to the County.  The Open Space Agreement comes with very specific use conditions and restrictions that must be adhered to by the property owners, and the Agreement remains in effect for as long as the clustered lots of the subdivision exist. 
The Open Space Agreement specifically does NOT authorize public access onto the property.  It was structured for the purpose of restricting the uses of the land such that the property may be kept as near as possible in its natural condition for the benefit of the public, and for the enjoyment of the development lot owners.  See copy of the Open Space Agreement.  
Listed below are a few of the landmarks that exist out in "the back of the Ranch."  Many of these landmarks are shown on the Topo Trail Map that Members can download by navigating via the Maps menu.  Over time we will build links to each landmark to include pictures, directions for how to find them, along with any interesting tidbits of information.  (Access to landmark details limited to HOA Members.)
  • Bettencourt Valley
  • Blue Shale
  • Camp 49
  • Chumash bedrock mortars
  • Corral de Piedra (stone corral)
  • Plane Wreck Ridge
  • Poison Oak Peak
  • Red Rocks
  • Shady Lane
  • Skull Rock
  • Slide Hill
  • The Hideaway
  • The South 100 "Finger"
  • Two largest Oaks on Varian Ranch           
  • Triple Trough
  • Wagon Wheel
  • Windmill Flats
  Ranch road to northern Red Gate on storm-cloudy afternoon