The Road Less Traveled: Mulholland Scenic Parkway

Summer is upon us! It’s the season for BBQ’s, days at the beach, and epic road trips! Here at Joeography, we are no strangers to road trips. Its one of our preferred ways to travel! About a year ago, we even started a segment called The Road Less Traveled(See Joeography: The Road Less Traveled), in honor of some of the best roads and scenic drives out there! In continuation of The Road Less Traveled segment, We decided to go explore one of the more famous roads in Southern California and possibly America, Mulholland Scenic Parkway.

Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook

What started out as just an idea to bring people from the city to the mountains and the coast by William Mulholland, ended up a reality when construction started in 1924 on what would be later named Mulholland Drive. Starting our drive west of the 101 freeway, we wind our way through the Santa Monica Mountains on Mulholland Drive, which makes up 24 miles of the Mulholland Scenic Parkway. Mulholland Drive ends into Mulholland Highway, but the 8 mile stretch west of the 405 is unpaved and subject to closure. You can find directions on how we bypassed this part by clicking link below.

Mulholland Scenic Parkway

Continuing our drive on Mulholland Highway, we start in Calabasas, following the parkway 30 miles as it twists and turns its way towards the ocean, ending at Leo Carrillo Beach. As you’re winding your way through the Santa Monica Mountains, there many scenic overlooks and scenic vistas along the route. They all offer great views of the city, mountains, and on a clear day, you can see the ocean and occassionally all the way to Catalina Island. Not all of these overlooks were created equally. Below are some of our favorites!

Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook

Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook

The most easterly of the scenic overlooks, the Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook is situated to provide a beautiful view of the Hollywood Bowl Amphitheater, downtown Los Angeles, and, on a clear day, the ocean and Catalina Island. To the east, the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park Observatory are clearly visible, and to the north the San Fernando Valley. The Overlook was built concurrently with Universal City Overlook in 1984 in preparation for the Summer Olympics.

Universal City Scenic Overlook

Universal City Scenic Overlook

The Universal City Overlook, located on the north side of Mulholland Drive, provides views of the San Fernando Valley and Verdugo Hills. Funded by a donation from Universal studios, it was built in 1984 concurrently with the Hollywood Bowl Overlook further east, to accommodate visitors to Los Angeles during the Summer Olympic Games.

Nancy Hoover Pohl Scenic Overlook

Nancy Hoover Pohl Scenic Overlook

Located on the north side of Mulholland Drive, the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook provides views of the San Fernando Valley, a physical fitness course, and access into the canyon trails below. The overlook is named in honor Nancy Hoover Pohl, who fought to curb development in the Santa Monica Mountains and to create local parkland. Nancy Hoover Pohl was also instrumental in the establishment of the five-mile Betty B. Dearing Mountain Trail, which is also accessible from the overlook.

Barabara Fine Overlook

Barbara fine Summit scenic overlook

On the north side of Mulholland Drive, the developed overlook named for local conservationist, Barbara A. Fine, includes a large paved parking area and a short trail to viewpoints with a stunning view of the upper fork of Fryman Canyon, the San Fernando Valley, the Simi Hills, and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Stone Canyon Reservoir

Stone Canyon Scenic Overlook

On the south side of Mulholland Drive, the Stone Canyon Overlook was developed in 1994. The overlook features a short trail with views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s beautiful lake-like Stone Canyon Reservoir. On a clear day, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island can be seen from the overlook.

Alisa B Katz Scenic Overlook at Las Virgenes Valley

Alisa B Katz Las Virgenes Valley Scenic Overlook

Alisa B. Katz Las Virgenes Valley Overlook provides sweeping vistas of the beautiful meadows of the Las Virgenes Valley and the rugged crags above Malibu Creek State Park.

Seminole Scenic Overlook

Seminole Scenic Overlook

Located in the western Santa Monica Mountains on a twisty portion of Mulholland Highway called “The Snake”, Seminole Overlook looks north east toward volcanic mountain formations. The Snake and Seminole Overlook is a popular stop for sports car and motorcycle enthusiast. You can see many different exotic cars and bikes driving up and down this portion of the Parkway.

After we ended our drive at Leo Carrillo Beach, we were reminded of how beautiful nature is and just how lucky we are to be able to enjoy so much of it! So don’t wait, grab your buddies, your family, even your dog and get out and enjoy it! Remember to Never Stop Exploring!

Mulholland Scenic Parkway at night


Here are some tips when driving Mulholland:
1. While there are parts that have beautiful homes and places of business along the way, there are spots where there is little to no reception. Make sure you let someone know where you’ll be, just to be safe.

2. You can find a map of Mulholland Scenic Parkway and the many overlooks below.
• For Mulholland Drive, click here
• For Mulholland Highway, click here

3. You can find directions on how to bypass the unpaved section of Mulholland by clicking here.

4. A drive on the Mulholland Scenic Parkway isn’t complete without a stop at the Rock Store. The Rock Store is located right before you get to Seminole Scenic Overlook when heading west. The address is 30354 Mulholland Hwy, Cornell, CA 91301. The Rock Store is usually open only on weekends and can get very busy. For more information on hours, etc, click here.

56 thoughts on “The Road Less Traveled: Mulholland Scenic Parkway

  1. Brilliant photos! Dare I say — it reminds me of a lot of the shots from the second True Detective series. There’s something very romantic about this side of LA.

  2. Thanks Joe, I love those local knowledge posts.

    I only know of the name Mulholland Drive thanks to the movie, however looking at some of those views and the mountainous roads brought back visions of Spielbergs “Duel”!

  3. I’ve never heven heard of Mulholland Drive, but I’m really happy I read this post because my best friend just moved to LA and I’m planning to visit a few times this coming year. The drive looks stunning, with beautiful scenic overlooks and views of the city from afar.

  4. I’ve never taken this drive, it is amazing, especially on a clear blue sky day! I’ll have to do this some time if I get to LA again and have time for some spectacular panoramic visits!

  5. Some amazing view to be had from advantage points located around Los Angeles. Seems like a great way to spend a day and take some great photos. Your pictures really make the article come alive. I for one would love to spend a day checking out these looks outs

  6. Stone Canyon Scenic Overlook looks amazing. Can’t imagine that that is right there in the middle of what looks like a desert. So cool! I’m always looking for interesting things to do in southern California. Thanks for the informative post and another exploration option!

  7. I have been to southern California multiple times, but sadly never driven this route. Next time I’m in the area, I will definitely check it out. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Those photos are amazing. I forwarded this to my partner who is a big motorcycle buff. Im sure those roads will get him planning a roadtrip soon.

    1. Thanks Chris! It’s a great Motorcycle ride! There are a few other offshoots that are pretty nice as well. The Hollywood sign is a little more east, but there are great views of it at the beginning of Mulholland. as far as getting to the Hollywood sign, there is no direct automobile access, on access to it by foot. I will have more details on how to get there up soon.

  9. Finally something to send my L.A. bound readers to see! I’m always encouraging people to take an L.A. day out of their itinerary thanks to all the disappointment I hear from travelers.

    So glad to have this as a resource in my pocket!

  10. Ah, the famous Mulholland Drive! I am actually surprised that many people living in the States don’t know about it. Looks absolutely stunning and would love to go when I make it to the USA. The second shot is epic!

  11. Looks like a scenic spot for a driving holiday. I’m sure I’ve seen this in several movies. It would be good to have a list of all the movies Mulholland as featured in.

  12. Mulholland Drive is famous, of course, but I didn’t realize why! What a cool roadtrip.

    I’m also surprised there’s an unpaved 8 mile section of road in Southern California. Especially since it is such a famous road.

  13. Mulholland Drive is one of my favorite drives in LA. I love the view of the city and the winding canyon road. It still feels a bit like “old” Hollywood there with the glamour and style of the big screen movie stars of the good ol days.

  14. I’ve been to LA a number of times, but never done this drive. It looks spectacular. The views of the landscape and back down towards the city are amazing! Definitely on my checklist for LA next time I’m in town.

  15. We are an American family who has traveled a lot but have not traveled our home country enough. Mulholland Drive looks so scenic and beautiful, it’s a place we absolutely have to visit very soon. A drive there will surely be great. Great tips for the best way to take this drive!

  16. You know we called “LA” home for a while, but we never got around to doing this drive. I’m so sad….though so glad to see your pictures and read about your experience. It is something we will absolutely do when we get back to the area. Amazing photos, wow!

  17. Your posts are always a pleasure to read due to your great photos! I really like the view from the Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook, appreciating the city’s energy from a peaceful distance.

  18. We have not taken this drive yet but hope to get out that way this spring! Your pictures did an amazing job showing what the drive would be like and I think I would enjoy the Stone Canyon Overlook the best! Thanks for also including your tips at the end – that is always very helpful!

  19. I’ve been lucky to visit LA quite a few times, but never had the fun of doing Mulholland Drive. It really does highlight, that when you take a step back from something that you get a completely different view. All the glitz and the “gahhh” of LA disappears and fades away to something quite stunning. Your photos do that complete justice, they are lovely.

  20. Road trips are so much fun. I haven’t really done any exploring in California, but your photos are beautiful and I’d like to see the area for myself some day. And I love reading about the efforts people made to preserve the land. It’s thanks to their efforts that we are now able to enjoy these areas.

  21. Mulholland Scenic Park seems to promise a great experience. The views are stunning, each one of them and these are vividly brought alive by your lovely pictures.
    My pick of the lot is Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook.

  22. Great pics! I loved this drive when I was in LA. So many awesome views (as you showcased perfectly). LA is such a dreamy place to visit (especially since I grew up binging on Hollywood films). Thanks for the nice visual journey.

  23. This place looks amazing and the photos you took seem to have captured it wonderfully! I haven’t been to the US yet but I can imagine the vast number of amazing places such as this. 😀

  24. Would love to take that route on a motorcycle! Great photos and really interesting post! I haven’t been that far south yet but I’ll make sure that when I visit, I check all of these places out.

  25. Scenic drives are the best way to road trip! I haven’t explored California roads enough to now about the best drives, but I’d like to see more the next time I’m down there. Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *