Above Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive…quiet and peaceful!

This year Los Angeles commemorates the 100th anniversary of William Mulholland’s engineering marvel, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which delivers about half of the city’s water supply traveling  more than 200 miles from the Owens Valley.

The Los Angeles region’s gain has never set well with Owens Valley residents, and controversy and discord is still a relevant topic.

But we’ll stay away from anger and bitterness, and take a little road trip.

References to the famous civil engineer are everywhere. But nothing is more iconic than the famed Mulholland Drive, nicknamed “Bad Boy Drive” because at one time famous residents, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Marlon Brandon all lived along the route.

Mulholland Drive offers views of the Los Angeles Basin on one side, the San Fernando Valley on the other, and on clear days you can spy the Pacific Ocean. This 21-mile stretch of Santa Monica Mountain ridgeline is a hot spot for locals as well as tourists.

A large portion of the road isn’t paved, but is popular with mountain bikers and hikers.

From one Mulholland overlook it’s possible to see three well-known Los Angeles icons. The Hollywood Sign recently enjoyed a facelift and looks bright and shiny.

THe Hollywood Sign

And typically I’m seated at the  Hollywood Bowl, enjoying the evening view of the hills above, but from Mulholland Drive the Bowl sits empty waiting for June and a full summer music season.Hollywood Bowl

Sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood is the Griffith Observatory. Three iconic Hollywood symbols all visible from one Mulholland Drive Lookouts!

Griffith Observatory

Some days you can see Catalina Island, but not today!

Downtown Los Angeles

No, that isn’t air pollution. Marine layers often linger long into the day and burn off by mid-afternoon. It might obstruct a perfectly clear view of downtown Los Angeles, but the weather is just about perfect.

Hollywood HillsThe Hollywood Hills are an amazingly beautiful and almost unexpected topographical feature that many Southern Californians never explore. They tend to be seen as anchors to hold up the famous sign, or house the Bowl, or divide coastal Los Angeles from inland San Fernando Valley.

The chaparral-covered hillsides provide hiking tails and unparalleled views.

Several thousand feet below one of the lookouts is a wonderful view of the 22-mile long San Fernando Valley with breathtaking views of the San Gabriel and Santa Susana Mountains.

It also offers an aerial view of Universal Studios.

Universal Studios

San Gabriel Mountains

Hollywood HillsNBC Universal

This 36-story office building is the tallest building in the San Fernando Valley, and home to NBCUniversal, owners of NBC, Telemundo, USA Network and SyFy.

Does the vicinity look a little crowded to you?

Approximately 10 million people live in Los Angeles County. That’s a lot of cars on the road! And there are times when I fantasize about living somewhere else, perhaps a little less congested–BUT…


When we exited the Hollywood Hills we headed right for Santa Monica.

Ocean, sand, sun–February!

Santa Monica BeachDoesn’t this look inviting? If I get my way I’ll be returning soon, book in hand.

Santa Monica Palm TreesHollywood Hills and ocean breezes all before noon.

Oh, and over 300 days a year of sunshine. That’s reason enough for me to put up with  accept that we live in a very beautiful, but yes, congested, landscape.

I find it interesting that everywhere I go I seem to find postings with information connecting to my interest in learning about Southern California’s Native People.

Native Story

So I must share it with you!

And at my next opportunity to take advantage of a clear, sunny day, I’ll be back to take more pictures from the top of Mulholland Drive. There were more lookouts and trails I’d like to explore.

And I  am eager to explore the many beautiful canyons along the route–Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canyon…there are so many!

I definitely need more weekends.

40 thoughts on “Above Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive…quiet and peaceful!

    • I think there are many things about SoCal you probably could do without Marie, but there are some really lovely places I absolutely know you’d fully appreciate. You’ll have to put it on that long list we all have of places we should see at least once! 🙂

    • As soon as we can find an available full day we are going to try to explore one of the trails in one of the many canyons in the Hollywood Hills. I’ll take my camera. You’ve inspired me to make a greater effort to keep track of the birds I see in different areas. I observe, but don’t document! I’m thinking I could work a little harder at that! 🙂

    • You’d fit right in with the Santa Monica crowd, Charlie. From the photos you’ve shared I think this is the beach area that would be most like what you enjoy at home. It’s one of my favorite locations, but during the summer months it’s almost impossible to get there and park! So this is the time of year I can go and not feel stressed. Who wants to be at the beach and feel stressed! 🙂

  1. Wow. You mean Mulholland drive is a real place and not just a weird film? The photos are very tempting. It is cold and wet (rain due to last all day!) in Belfast this morning. I could do with a little LA sun!

    • I hope your spring comes soon and brings some sunshine and warmth! Yes indeed! Mulholland Drive is a very real highway running through some of the best known and most beautiful canyons in Los Angeles. There are some rather impressive homes along that route, too! I feel good just driving past. LOL! Don’t ever pass on coming to Los Angeles for one of your academic conferences. It would be a real adventure for you…maybe UCLA? I’m sure there will be an invitation in your future! 🙂

    • Don’t you agree with me that many, maybe most Southern Californians look right past those fabulous trails, canyons and hiking spots? I’m amazed that more people aren’t completely in love with the Hollywood Hills…but I have friends as old as I and who have lived here forever who have never once explored. Maybe that’s why I’m so incessant with my sharing. People out of state show more interest than locals. Of course, I’m mostly referring to my small sample of friends. LOL!

    • I’m planning on spending a little more time linking my Los Angeles or Southern California-related blogs on a separate page, Meg. I did get started with it and the pages show on the banner. I could do a little better job, though, of organizing them by theme. There are so many places that are at least worth a photo! When we were on Mulholland the other day it was fascinating to see so many tourists, and most were not speaking English. It kind of changes my attitude and makes we want to take a second look myself! 🙂

  2. I’m breathing lighter just looking at your new header! I love it! The top pictures are just breath taking and I could spend hours just staring at them. I do love California. I’ve enjoyed every single trip we’ve taken that direction. There’s something about it that always makes me feel at home too, even though I have no connection there whatsoever. Thanks for sharing these pics today. 🙂

    • I am glad you enjoyed my new header–I liked it, too. Ha! I’ve already changed themes. I was having some difficulty with it loading, and perhaps I’m just too photo heavy for that one theme. I’m so glad I’m able to share a sample of some of my favorite places. It delights me to think of you feeling at home here! I think you would…and if you ever plan a visit, be sure to let me know and I’ll help direct you to the more family-friendly places! 🙂

    • I had so much fun scoping out some hiking spots for us to try and challenge ourselves without getting in too deep! I think we need to go at this with some caution, but the beauty of the canyons in that area are so enticing I probably won’t be able to resist. Who knows what we’ll get into over time. 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoy the photos, Fiona. California is much more beautiful than I think is typically represented by the media. It’s such a huge state that if you are willing to travel a little bit there’s something for everyone. It’s been nice for me to share, because I think it’s also caused me to stop and appreciate some aspects more than I have in the past! 🙂

  3. No doubt that LA and Southern Cal are blessed with a beautiful landscape and climate. I’m glad you chose to share so much of the area’s natural beauty and vistas. It sure does give proof to why so many call that area home. Feel free to share as much as you like, Debra. Painting a picture of Southern California today dovetails nicely with your historical posts and biographical series on the Patton Family.

    • Thank you for being so patient with me going on more than a little bit about SoCal weather and some of our natural resources. The exclamation point is placed because there are so many reasons why this area is a hard place to live. I can’t call my blog “breathelighter” and talk about those things! LOL! So I focus on what is beautiful. And I’m so grateful that you are traveling along with me. Thank you, John.

    • I was so glad to have a good view of the mountains. They are such a large part of our landscape, but sometimes my photography just doesn’t do them justice! My youngest granddaughter, just three, has heard me exclaim about the San Gabriel Mountain range that whenever we are anywhere, she’ll say to even the hills, “Oh just look at the San Gabriel Mountains.” I guess I do go on and on a bit! 🙂

  4. A most perfect way for me to begin catching up on your blogs, Debra. I’ve missed them – and you.
    What fabulous scenery; a bit of enchantment wherever you look, isn’t it? From the lush vegetation, mountains, and ocean to the iconic symbols of Hollywood.
    You really are a tour guide, you know. It’s just sometimes you do it from afar. Thank you, Debra.

    • I hope things are going well with you (and the family), Penny. I’m sure you’re very stretched right now. I never asked if your sister lives close to you or caring for her involves travel? I am glad to share some of the nicer aspects of the Los Angeles area. Since you’ve visited, you know well how varied the landscape really is. Not everything about Los Angeles is picturesque, although I daresay I could find something interesting about almost every pocket. My “tour guiding” started with a new camera last March. I was thinking about that, and when I got a new camera with more bells and whistles than I knew how to manage, I began taking photos of everywhere I went, just for the practice. I suddenly felt I had a new eye for many of the places I hadn’t really “seen” in a long time. Now I kind of hope that I inspire others to do the same where they live. I hope you’re able to get a little rest this weekend, Penny. I sense that you’ve probably been going pretty hard! oxo

  5. I quite enjoyed your photo tour of the La area. What I really enjoyed is that I have visited and toured most of the locations that you shared through your photographs. It truly is a beautiful area filled with a rich and colourful history and present. I am learning so much through your bog! Thea

    • I am so glad you know the area, Thea. I suppose that in part what motivates me sharing the photos is that even friends right here in Southern California NEVER get to these beautiful places, yet complain about our traffic, the congestion, sometimes pollution, and pockets of the very large basin that are less than enjoyable! There really are many reasons we could be very grumpy…but I tend to focus on the parts of Los Angeles County that are post card perfect. There are canyons in those Hollywood Hills that rival hiking trails anywhere in the world…you just have to know where to look! 🙂 I’m going to keep on saying it until I hear fewer complaints! LOL! I’m glad I could share it with you…maybe sometime you’ll make a return visit! Wouldn’t that be fun! 🙂

  6. Great post great photos Debra 🙂 You are a gifted tour guide – you included everything!
    Now your readers know that Mulholland Drive isn’t just the name of a movie, and you didn’t forget the beach and the snow capped mountains. My congratulations.
    I love the Hollywood sign photo on your header.

    • Hi Rosie. You know the area so well and I’m positive you know the Santa Monica Mountains much better than I, but recently they have really been calling to me! 🙂 There were so many things I could have shared about, but you’re right, these are the iconic images, which I admit, I never grow tired of seeing. The day we were at the one lookout point staring at the sign, we had to wait our turn to take a photo because a whole tour van full of non-English speaking tourists were having such a good time. I just loved being near their enthusiasm and realizing that for them, this was a key photo to take. I’m sure you completely agree with me that one way to cope with the “craziness” of the Los Angeles basin is to appreciate some of the gorgeous canyons along this route. I’m playing around with the header and thought I’d share THE sign for now since I’ve been sharing from around the area. I get bored with the look of my blog and will probably change the banner more frequently just to be creative. Hahaha! 🙂

  7. That is such glorious scenery, Debra, and as for your beautiful blue skies – well, I’m feeling more than a little jealous. 🙂 Yes, the valleys are very built-up, but having something close to wilderness nearby AND the sea must help.

    • I really do put a great deal of effort into getting to some of the more beautiful and scenic spots in Southern California, Perpetua, knowing that my sense of well-being is dependent on that focus! We are in a very, very congested area. I think if I could document that better I’d be willing to share it, simply because at times I find it amazing. My sister-in-law and I went to the theater last evening and it took us more than an hour to go less than 30 miles. It’s not going to get any better. 🙂 But keeping a focus on the natural wonders really grounds me and gives me a little emotional nourishment. And I always feel a little funny showing the weather…we can’t take any credit for that! LOL! But we can be grateful, and I am! Hope you have a good weekend, my friend.:-)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the view, Andra! 🙂 I think I’ll have to make a return trip later in the spring when there isn’t so much haze. I have it in mind to take some photos to frame for my office. I like to daydream about being out and about when I’m stuck at my desk! 🙂

  8. Every time I pass by Mulholland Dr., all I can think of is that puzzle movie by a genius director, David Lynch. I never knew there’s so much more to it. Three icons in one area in different angles than when you’re in Griffith. And it’s always nice to see the big cities of California from up above.
    I’m stuck with whatever my employer takes me, but I always make th best of my stay to wherever I go. 😉

    • I have never seen the Lynch movie, Rommel, but I am familiar with it by reputation. One of these times I’ll have to see it. There is a lot more to Mulholland Drive than I was able to present in this one post, so I hope at some point you have the chance to explore. There are some really great hiking trails I’d really like to spend some time on. I understand by your comment that perhaps you’re employed in a way that takes you to some of your special locations, and yes you do make the best of each! I am always impressed. 🙂

  9. Dear Debra, you know I’ve been to Florida three times to visit a friend and never, ever wanted to live there. But now that I’ve been reading your blog for over a year, I find myself really wanting to take a vacation to California. Several vacations in fact because the state is so large and there’s so much to see. Your postings make California so inviting. Thank you for changing my view of the state. I’ve always liked the fact of it being a Democratic-voting state–that always wins me over. But I never truly appreciated its natural beauty and its history. Thank you. Peace.

    • Dee, you’ve just made my day to tell me that you’ve developed an interest in seeing California. It is a very large state, as you know, and it truthfully is very beautiful from north to south. Unfortunately I think some of our more “negative press” often overwhelms the airwaves, and focusing on natural beauty isn’t headline worthy. And yes, we are a very liberal state, which works well for me, too. I do hope you can come sometime. I’d love to help you in the planning process! 🙂

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