Of all of California State Parks none offer a grander view of both coastal mountains and shoreline than Montana De Oro. This jewel with some 8,000 acres and seven miles of coast line is located just a few miles from San Luis Obispo.
The timing of our recent visit to Montana de Oro could not have been better. It was Fall with mostly clear skies and light winds.
We spent much of a full day at the park. At Park Headquarters we talked with the friendly host docent and browsed through the museum which is housed in the original settler ranch house.
After being inhabited by Chumash Indians for at least 20,000 years this stretch of coast, which includes both rock bound shores and long stretches of sandy beach, became the Spooner Ranch. This in about 1904.
After a series of owners it was acquired by the State in 1965. Coming into the park we stopped at the day area, complete with rest rooms, picnic tables and well maintained hiking trails extending in several directions. We took the trail to the sandy beach that stretched for miles with Moro Rock framed in the distance. A brisk breeze produced white caps at sea and long lines of white topped breakers brilliant against a blue sea and cloudless sky.
Spooners Cove with the beach, rock walls and wind churned waves was a must for the camera. This Writer took some photos which he hoped would become an oil painting sometime in the future.
We toured the campground with the 50 campsites for tents, trailers and motor homes. There are also walk-in sites for campers and six sites for horsemen since the Park offers many miles of hiking and riding trails. The road continued past Spooner Cove for a few miles following the rock walled coast line with many pullouts where hikers and beach combers can park their vehicles. From the north end of the park there are sweeping vistas of California coastline that extends to blue shaded mountains in the far distance.
Inland there is also the beauty of thick groves of Eucalyptus trees as well as rock rimmed ridge lines and lush chaparral with excellent trails for access. The museum shows a fine collection of all the mammals that inhabit the park as well as reptiles. As one leaves Montana De Oro there are grand views of dunes forever being reshaped by wind as well as the reaches of Moro Bay. We admired the grace of a doe that looked curiously at us, then moved on and a hawk's casual mastery of the wind while on the hunt.
To get to Montana de Oro take Los Oso Valley road from Highway 101 if coming from the south. From the north there is a sign and offramp from Highway 101 to One. 3550 Pecho Valley Rd., Los Osos, Ca. 93402. The park is open all year and the Visitor Center daily in summer , Thursday thru Sunday in winter. For more information call 805 528-0513. Web www.parks.ca.gov>montanadeoro.
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