Montaña de Oro State Park, CA – A Visitor’s Guide

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Sunset at Montana de Oro State Park on California's Central CoastAnother installment in our series on California state parks, and today we're looking at Montaña de Oro State Park

Where Is Montaña de Oro State Park?

Montaña de Oro State Park is on the coast of Central California’s San Luis Obispo County. The park is officially in the city of Los Osos and is within a 30-minute drive of Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, and San Luis Obispo.

How To Get To Montaña de Oro State Park

If you’re traveling from the Bay Area, then you could follow US-101 South until you reach Exit 219 to Morro Road. From southern cities like Los Angeles, you should take US-101 North until you reach Exit 200A to Los Osos Valley Road.

Anyone who is using a GPS to get to Montaña de Oro should punch in this official address: 3550 Pecho Valley Road Los Osos, CA 93402

How Far Is Montaña de Oro State Park From Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is approximately 210 miles south of Montaña de Oro, or about a four-hour drive away.

Are you thinking of visiting LA while in California? If so, you need to check out our previous post entitled “Where To Stay In LA.”

How Far Is Montaña de Oro From San Francisco?

The drive from San Francisco to Montaña de Oro is slightly longer at roughly 250 miles and 4.5 hours.

By the way, if you’re thinking about making the trip from LA to San Fran, then you’d better check out this “US-1 Travel Itinerary” on TripMemos.

What Is There To Do In Montaña de Oro State Park?

With an area of about 8,000 acres, Montaña de Oro has a lot of ground to cover. People interested in wildlife viewing, camping, and outdoor activities will find plenty of ways to enjoy themselves on a trip to San Luis Obispo County’s largest park.

The Waves of The Pacific Ocean Meet The Rocky Cliffs Of Montana De Oro State Park, CA
The waves of the Pacific ocean meet the rocky cliffs of Montana De Oro State Park, CA

Here are just a few of the more popular activities you could enjoy in Montaña de Oro State Park.

Stroll Along Spooner’s Cove

Montaña de Oro has about seven miles of coastline to explore, but Spooner’s Cove is the undeniable crowd favorite. Visitors consistently rave about Spooner’s Cove’s many jagged rock formations and tide pools.

Spooner’s Cove also has a historically significant Spooner Ranch House that’s usually open between 11 AM – 2 PM. Constructed in the early 20th century, Spooner Ranch House now serves as Montaña de Oro’s visitor’s center, shop, and main museum.

Camping In Montaña de Oro

While we’re in the Spooner’s Cove area, we should mention the Islay Creek Campground. Located near the Spooner Ranch House, Islay Creek Campground is the park’s central campground offering about 50 sites in the summer and 25 in the winter.

Whether you’re into RVing, primitive tent camping, or equestrian camping, you can reserve your spot in Islay Creek up to six months in advance online. You will have to pay an $8 reservation fee and at least $25 per day.

To find out more about camping at Montaña de Oro, you could read this pamphlet or visit this official website.

Tour The Park’s Tide Pools

As mentioned above, Montaña de Oro has many tide pools with fantastic views of the West Coast’s underwater life. The easiest way to tour these tide pools is to wait for low tide and walk along Spooner’s Cove. You’re bound to see a wide variety of sea critters like barnacles and snails on Montaña de Oro’s most famous stretch of sand.

Although Spooner’s Cove is the most popular area for “tide pooling,” many tourists believe Hazard Canyon Reef has the best tide pools in the park. Located in the northern extreme of Montaña de Oro, Hazard Canyon Reef has many impressive tide pools with creatures like hermit crabs and starfish. Visitors are always impressed by Hazard Canyon Reef’s stunning scenery, which includes an unforgettable view of Morro Rock.

Hiking In Montaña de Oro State Park

Hikers, bikers, and joggers will find plenty of trails throughout Montaña de Oro to explore. For a comprehensive view of the park’s official hiking trails, please take a peek at this official map put together by the State of California.

Below, we will highlight three of the more popular hikes to consider taking on your trip to Montaña de Oro.

Valencia Peak Trail

Sign in Montana de Oro State Park on the trail to Valencia Peak, Morro Bay, California

At over 1,300 feet, Valencia Peak is the tallest point in Montaña de Oro and offers excellent panoramic views of the park. To reach Valencia Peak’s summit, follow the Valencia Peak Trail just south of Spooner’s Cove. This trail is rated as moderately difficult and measures about four miles round-trip.

Bluff Trail

If you’re looking for a less strenuous hike, then walk on the level Bluff Trail along the park’s southern coast. Measuring roughly four miles round-trip, this mild trail will take you by many lovely tide pools as well as natural wonders like Quarry Cove and Grotto Rock.

Oats Peak Trail

Posted signs in Montana de Oro State Park placed on Oats Peak, one of the highest in the park

For a more strenuous hike, consider climbing the Oats Peak Trail that begins as Reservoir Flats Trail near Montaña de Oro’s Visitor’s Center. This roughly ten-mile round-trip hike is noted for its views of the park’s interior grasslands, which makes it ideal for those who want to see Montaña de Oro’s famous wildflowers.

When’s The Best Time Of Year to Visit Montaña de Oro State Park?

Tourists who want to see the “oro” in Montaña de Oro should plan their trip during the springtime. Not only are the park’s flowers in full bloom during the spring, but you also won’t have to deal with the summertime crowds and higher temps.

If you can’t make it here during the spring, then try to reach Montaña de Oro State Park in the fall. Those who visit during the wintertime are traveling during California’s rainy season, so you must be prepared for less than ideal weather conditions. Indeed, mudslides are relatively common in Central California, so please carefully monitor local weather reports.

What Time Does The Park Open?

Montaña de Oro is usually open between 6 AM – 10 PM every day of the week.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Into Montaña de Oro State Park?

Currently, there is no fee to enter Montaña de Oro, although there have been attempts to implement a $5 fee. Please keep abreast of any developments on the park’s official website.

FAQs On Visiting Montaña de Oro

Before closing this post, here are a few FAQs travelers often have about Montaña de Oro State Park.

What’s The Best Beach In Montaña de Oro?

The best beach in Montaña de Oro is Spooner’s Cove. Not only is Spooner’s Cove one of the most beautiful beaches in the park, but it’s also the easiest to reach and has many convenient facilities.

Are Dogs Allowed At Montaña de Oro?

Provided they are on a six-foot leash, dogs are allowed in the following areas of Montaña de Oro State Park:

  • Spooner’s Cove
  • Campsites
  • Park Roads

Even if your dog is on a leash, you cannot take it for walks on any of the park’s other beaches or trails. If you are camping with your furry friend, be sure they stay in your tent once dusk rolls around.

What’s The Meaning Of The Name, “Montaña de Oro?”

Montaña de Oro is Spanish for “Mountain of Gold.” It was so named due to the park’s abundance of bright yellow wildflowers.

Where To Stay When Visiting Montaña de Oro State Park

People who want to stay near Montaña de Oro State Park will find plenty of hotels in nearby cities like San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. To help you narrow down your search, here are two exceptional hotels within a short drive of the park.

Back Bay Inn

Only a 15-minute drive north of Montaña de Oro State Park, Back Bay Inn is a romantic B&B located in Baywood-Los Osos. This elegant waterfront inn is perfect for a romantic getaway and features an on-site restaurant, a gorgeous garden area, and a daily wine reception.

For more details on Back Bay Inn, please check out their listing on Booking.com.

La Quinta by Wyndham San Luis Obispo

If you’re looking for a name-brand hotel in a nearby city, then La Quinta by Wyndham San Luis Obispo may be right for you. About a 30-minute drive from Montaña de Oro, this two-star hotel has many convenient features, including easy access to San Luis Obispo Airport, continental breakfast, and a pool.

Be sure to take a peek at La Quinta by Wyndham’s Booking.com page for more information.

The Waves of The Pacific Ocean Meet The Rocky Cliffs Of Montana De Oro State Park, CA

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