Montana de Oro State Park
Montana de Oro State Park is located just a few miles south of Morro Bay, and those few miles enable a true “step back in time”.
The park is over 8,000 acres in size and one of the largest in the state.
The name Montana de Oro State Park means “mountain of gold”
It comes from the profusion of buttercups and California poppies in the spring and early summer.
This park is indeed a treasure since there are so many things to do here. So let’s talk about the beach here first…
This is a magical section of California coastline AND it’s really not a place for swimming. Like Big Sur, Montana de Oro has steep dropoffs and treacherous currents and undertows.
There is a nice beach here, at Spooner’s Cove, which is somewhat sandy but is mostly pebbly nearer the water. The cove is a good place for wading and climbing the rocks and enjoying the sun and surf. Islay Creek also empties into the ocean here and at times forms a little fresh water pond right on the sand
Beyond Spooner’s Cove there are beautiful terraces on which are easy hiking trails at the end of which are great views of the rocky coast below the bluffs. Most of the bluffs are no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile from the parking area.
Montana de Oro State Park quick facts:
Address: Pecho Valley Road, south of Los Osos
Park Office telephone: (805) 528-0513
GPS coordinates (at entrance): 35.3003 / -120.8628
Hours: Call the Park office
Park website: Montana de Oro State Park
Online camping reservations: Available at this link
Camping: 40 primitive sites with tables and woodstoves; pit toilets; no showers; no hookups
Horse camping: Horse camping sites are available in addition to 50 miles of riding trails. Call park office for information.
Accessibility: Accessible parking, restrooms, trails and picnic tables. More information available here and here.
The Central Coast Natural History Association leads walks and hikes through the park with various themes – photography, wildlife, native plant life, and others. They call them – “Adventures with Nature”. A number of the photos on this page were taken by the docents of these adventures.
You might want to adjust your schedule to coincide with one of the adventures as they can be a fun and stimulating tour of this wonderful state park.
Did I mention mountain biking?
That’s available here as well. With over 12 square miles to the park, there’s really something for everyone here.
If you are looking for more hiking in the area, the land immediately south of Montana de Oro has some trails available as well. That land is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company which operates the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Generating Station.
PG&E has allowed docent-led hikes here on what is known as the “Point Buchon Trail”. If you go to this site you can find more information about the dates, times and requirements of these hikes.
This is an interesting opportunity to see parts of the coast that most never see.
Montana de Oro State Park is definitely one of our favorite places in Central California. It is so photogenic and beautiful.
I just couldn’t end this page without another picture, this one a sunset.
Enjoy the photo and even better, enjoy your visit to this lovely park…