Montana de Oro is a little known secret on the central coast. My dad takes a camping trip to this place every year for his birthday. He’ll probably be somewhat upset that I am giving away his secret spot, as it is rarely very crowded there and he likes it that way. I will say that the campground is considered “primitive,” and that will keep visitors to a minimum, anyway. Montana de Oro means Mountains of Gold in Spanish and was named so for the gold-colored wildflowers that bloom in the spring. Little beach coves are easily accessed by trails and are a beachcombers paradise. This area is beautiful, and perfect for nature-lovers and outdoor activity enthusiasts. Well worth a visit.
Montana de Oro is situated in San Luis Obispo County. The park is located seven miles south of Los Osos and six miles southwest of Morro Bay on Pecho Road.
From Ventura: Take the 101 freeway north towards San Luis Obispo. Exit Los Osos Valley Road. Follow this road 12 miles to the entrance to Montana de Oro State Park.
Montana de Oro State Park primitive and equestrian campsites. Translation: non-flush pit toilets, piped water comes out of a spigot for drinking and cooking. These campsites allow a capacity of eight people and two vehicles. The sites accomodate trailers and motor homes less than or equal to 27 feet long, but there are no hookups. In addition, there are four hike-in only campgrounds without water, where neither campfires nor pets are allowed. Call Parknet at (800) 444-7275 to reserve a hike-in site and pay the nightly fee. Finally, there are two Horse Camps for groups up to 50 people in size. In these sites there is water available for horses, only. People must bring their own water.
To get to hike-in campground Deer Flat, drive to the Park Headquarters and continue 1.25 miles. Park at the gated dirt road on the left. Do not park at the Coon Creek Trailhead. This is too far and may get you a ticket for overnight parking. From the car, hike for about 15 minutes up the dirt road to the top of the bluff. Once you get to an outhouse, table, trashcan, and flat spot meant for tents, you know you have arrived. Access Deer Flats Campground from the same spot. Hike up the trail with a sign labeling Badger Trail. The camp is just before the intersection with Rattlesnake Flats Trail. You’ll see it.
Campgrounds are open year round and reservations can be made through Reserve America.
The weather in this area is very changeable. It can be quite warm and sunny, or very foggy, cold and damp. It would be wise to be prepared for this range of conditions, as it is hard to tell ahead of time what it will be like.
I have not stayed in any of the hotels in Morro Bay, but here is a list of what is available. I would appreciate any recommendations, if anyone has any. http://www.totalescape.com/lodge/california-hotels.php?group=M#Morro%20Bay
Spectacular wildflowers bloom in the park between February and May. The Bluffs hiking trail follows the bluff along a steep drop off to the ocean. Below, at the shoreline, hikers will find a rocky coast and an occasional colony of sea lions. Another destination is Valencia Peak, 1,347 feet elevation. This hike includes 1,100 feet of elevation gained over two miles. Also, it can be very hot, so bring water. It is worth it, though. Views of the coast are spectacular.
Spooner’s Cove is located right across from Visitor Center turnoff and an excellent place to enjoy the beach. Check the Visitor’s Center for a schedule of tide levels.
There are four backpacker’s campgrounds: Hazard Grove Camp, Bloody Nose Camp, Badger Flat, and Deer Flat. Each one requires a couple of miles of hiking to reach. Badger Flat and Deer Flat are the two best camps, each sitting on bluffs overlooking the ocean. Because they are high on the bluffs, they are an uphill hike. USGS topo maps can be found at the Visitor’s Center.
Equestrian trails are found throughout the park and some equestrian campgrounds are available.
There are numerous beginner and moderate level mountain biking trails.
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