This is another part of our series on California state parks, and today we look at Montaña de Oro State Park.
Where is the Montaña de Oro National Park located?
Montaña de Oro State Park is located on the coast of San Luis Obispo County in central California. The park is officially located in the city of Los Osos, a 30-minute drive from Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo.
This is how you get to the Montaña de Oro Park.
If you are coming from the Bay Area, you can follow US-101 south to exit 219 off Morro Road. From southern cities, such as Los Angeles, you should take US-101 north to exit 200A off Los Osos Valley Road.
Those who come to the Montaña de Oro by GPS should enter this official address:
3550 Pecho Valley Road
Los Osos, California 93402
How far from Los Angeles is the Montaña de Oro State Park?
Los Angeles is about 210 miles south of Montaña de Oro, about four hours by car.
Are you planning to visit Los Angeles during your stay in California? If so, you should read our previous article “Where to Stay in Los Angeles”.
How far is the Montaña de Oro from San Francisco?
The trip from San Francisco to Montaña de Oro is slightly longer, about 250 miles and 4.5 hours.
By the way, if you’re planning to travel from Los Angeles to San Fran, check out this “US-1 itinerary” on TripMemos.
What can you do at the Montaña de Oro Park?
With approximately 8,000 acres, Montaña de Oro has a lot of land to offer. For those interested in wildlife viewing, camping and outdoor activities, there is plenty to do on a trip to the largest park in San Luis Obispo County.
Waves from the Pacific Ocean meet the rocky cliffs of Montana De Oro State Park in California.
Here are some of the most popular activities you can enjoy at Montaña de Oro Park.
Take a walk in Spooner’s Cove.
The Montañe de Oro has about seven miles of coastline, but Spooner’s Cove is definitely a crowd pleaser. Visitors continue to marvel at the many jagged rock formations and pools of seawater in Spooner’s Cove.
Spooner Cove is also home to the historically significant Spooner Ranch House, which is usually open between 11:00 and 14:00. The Spooner Ranch House was built in the early 20th century and now serves as the main visitor center, store and museum in the Montaña de Oro.
Camping in the Montaña de Oro.
Since we are in the Spooner Cove area, we should also mention the Islay Creek campground. Islay Creek Campground is located next to Spooner Ranch House and is the central campground in the park. It has about 50 sites in the summer and 25 in the winter.
Whether you enjoy biking, wilderness camping or horseback riding, you can book up to six months online at Islay Creek. There is a reservation fee of $8.00 and a minimum of $25.00 per day.
To learn more about the Montaña de Oro campsite, read this brochure or visit the official website.
A visit to the park’s tide pools.
As mentioned earlier, Montaña de Oro has many tidal pools with fantastic views of the underwater world of the west coast. The easiest way to see these pools is to wait for the tide and walk along Spooner’s Cove. On the Montaña de Oro’s most famous sandy area, you are sure to see a variety of marine life, such as barnacles and snails.
Although Spooner’s Cove is the most popular area for “ponds,” many hikers believe that Hazard Canyon Reef has the best ponds in the park. Hazard Canyon Reef is located at the northern end of the Montaña de Oro Extreme and has many impressive pools with animals such as hermit crabs and starfish. Visitors are always impressed by the breathtaking scenery of Hazard Canyon Reef, which offers unforgettable views of Morro Rock.
Hiking in the Montaña de Oro Park.
Hikers, cyclists and runners will find many trails to explore in Montaña de Oro. For a complete listing of the park’s official trails, consult this official map of the state of California.
Below are three of the most popular hikes you should consider for your trip to Montaña de Oro.
The trail from the top of Valencia
Valencia Peak is the highest point in Montaña de Oro, at more than 1,300 feet, and offers stunning panoramic views of the park. To reach the top of Valencia Peak, hike the Valencia Peak Trail south of Spooner Cove. This trail is considered moderately challenging and is approximately four miles round trip.
If you are looking for a less strenuous hike, take the flat Bluff Trail along the southern shore of the park. This quiet trail is about four miles long and takes you past many tide pools and natural wonders such as Quarry Cove and Grotto Rock.
Oat Summit Trail
For a more strenuous hike, consider the Oatmeal Peak Trail, which begins at the reservoir plains trail near the Montaña de Oro visitor center. This 10 km round trip hike is known for its views of the park’s meadows, making it an ideal spot for those who want to see the famous wildflowers of Montaña de Oro.
What is the best time of year to visit Montaña de Oro Park?
Tourists who want to see the “oro” of the Montaña de Oro should plan their trip in the spring. Not only are the flowers in the park in full bloom in the spring, you won’t have to deal with the summer crowds and higher temperatures.
If you can’t get here in the spring, try going to Montaña de Oro Park in the fall. If you come here in the winter, you will be traveling during California’s rainy season, so be prepared for less than ideal weather conditions. Mudslides are fairly common in Central California, so pay attention to local weather reports.
What time does the park open?
The Montaña de Oro is generally open every day of the week from 6 am to 10 pm.
How much does admission to the Montaña de Oro Park cost?
Admission to Montaña de Oro is currently free, although there have been attempts to introduce a $5 tax. Please keep an eye on the park’s official website for any developments.
Frequently asked questions about visiting the Montaña de Oro
Before closing this ticket, here are some questions travelers often ask about Montaña de Oro Park.
What is the best beach in the Montaña de Oro?
The best beach in the Montaña de Oro is Spooner’s Cove. Spooner’s Cove is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in the park, but also the most accessible and the most equipped with many amenities.
Are dogs allowed in the Montaña de Oro?
Dogs are allowed in the following areas of the Montaña de Oro National Park, provided they are leashed to a length of 1.80 m :
- Spooner’s Cove
- Park Rhodes.
Even if your dog is leashed, do not walk your dog on other beaches or in parks. If you go camping with your furry friend, make sure he stays in the tent after dark.
What does “Montaña de Oro” mean?
Montaña de Oro is the Spanish name for the Golden Mountain. It was so named because of the abundance of bright yellow wildflowers in the park.
Where to stay when visiting the Montaña de Oro Park.
For those looking to stay near Montaña de Oro National Park, there are many hotels in nearby cities such as San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. To narrow your search, here are two exceptional hotels that are just a few minutes’ drive from the park.
Back Bay Inn
The Bed and Breakfast Back Bay Inn is located in Baywood Los Osos, just a 15-minute drive north of Montana de Oro State Park. This elegant seaside bed and breakfast is perfect for a romantic getaway. It features an on-site restaurant, a beautiful garden and a wine bar that is open daily.
For more information about the Back Bay Inn, see the listing on Booking.com.
La Quinta de Wyndham San Luis Obispo
If you’re looking for a boutique hotel in one of the nearby cities, La Quinta de Wyndham San Luis Obispo Hotel might be for you. This 2-star hotel is about a 30-minute drive from Montaña de Oro. The hotel offers a range of amenities, including easy access to San Luis Obispo Airport, a continental breakfast and a swimming pool.
For more information, visit the La Quinta by Wyndham’s Booking.com page.
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