Highlights: Beach, Morro Rock, Morro Bay, Sea Otters & Elephant Seals, Hearst Castle
Campground: Site 54, E/W/S; 40' pad with room for truck beside trailer; Beachfront. A walk across the parking lot to light dunes, a small stream to cross to the large beach. 100 yards or more to the water. Two ½ miles to Morro Rock and about a mile northward to a rocky ledge.
Cramped but great location
From the campground, it is a beautiful 2 mile walk on a wide and flat sandy beach to the 580 foot high Morro Rock – the remnant neck of an extinct volcano (a volcanic plug). It is one of the most outstanding and distinguishable features along the west coast. Trivia: Morro Rock is moving northwest about 2” a year because it is part of the Pacific Plate – grinding against the North American Plate which is pushing Southwest.
One can also drive to a large parking lot on the shore side of the rock, which is in the town of Morro Bay. The area has a restroom and a trail goes along the bay side of the rock to a large jetty. This jetty is composed of loose boulders that make in not accessible but still worth the walk to see the waves crashing. One of the two days we were there waves soared 20 feet high or more crashing over the jetty. It was the biggest display of crashing waves we've ever seen and I easily took a hundred photos.
On the entrance to the neck of land leading to Morro Rock is Coleman Park. The two parks are close enough to appear to be the same park. But, parking at this earlier parking lot gave us a great view of sea otters floating on their backs and just chillin'. You can see them from shore, but a pair of binoculars will give you a great treat.
From one of several restaurants in Morro Bay
This is from a information sign at the park. Morro Rock in foreground, town of Morro Bay in background.
With friends Tom and Linda celebrating the purchase of their new Airstream!
Moonstone Beach State Park:
Hearst Mansion at San Simeon
The mansion is only 30 miles north of the campground. That's a gorgeous 40 minute ride up Route 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway. There is too much to say about this unbelievable house. Check out their website for more information. http://hearstcastle.orgWe took the most popular Grand Rooms Tour which gets you to the main portions of the house.
The mansion is not visible from the road. A mandatory tram takes you up and up a winding road to the mansion. Hearst purposely made the house appear and disappear from view as visitors would wind their way up the hillside. I'm writing this over a year after the fact and what sticks in my mind is the incredible view of the Pacific as you take the tram back down the hills.
If the outside swimming pool wasn't good enough you could use the indoor pool.
Other highlights were hearing about the famous people who visited and played tennis there. It was easy and a treat to visualize. Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Gene Harlow etc etc etc.http://hearstcastle.org/history-behind-hearst-castle/historic-people/guests-of-the-castle/
If you visited you could stay in one of the little cottages:
The swimming pools were quite spectacular – especially the outdoor one that looked like it was made for the Greek Gods.
At the Hearst Castle we were advised to see the sea lions just 5 ½ miles north on Route 1 from the entrance to the Castle. There is a parking lot. Goolge Maps identifies it as Elephant Seal Vista Point. Here at certain times of the year, the beaches are covered in sea lions. While we were there it was mostly females and their calves. Volunteers walk among the visitors and give ample information to get visitors to learn and appreciate the sea lions. Here is a link to the park that also has a link to a sea lion camera:http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=26424
Sunset at the campground.