The California Coastline is awash in scenic draws. We could spend years exploring the state’s coastal forests and delicate tidepools and constantly find new, remarkable places. That said, there is one park that regularly draws in, whenever we are in the area. Montaña de Oro State Park is located in Los Osos, south of Morro Bay and north of Pismo Beach and offers the full California coast experience: rugged rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and thriving local wildlife.
About Montaña de Oro State Park
Montaña de Oro State Park is easy to pick out on a map, given it is the largest park managed by the state of California. The park spans coastal cliffs to 1,347-foot Valencia Peak and many a hiking trail in between. The coastline varies from ancient sand dunes to volcanic rock. One surprise feature of the park is a large eucalyptus forest, the remains of a failed business investment. It is a dramatic landscape that draws us in for repeated visits.
Islay Creek Campground
The park allows overnight camping at Islay Creek Campground, a primitive campground. The grounds include 50 campsites, some of which sit right next to the eponymous Islay Creek. Each site includes the standard picnic table and fire ring with a level, paved parking spot.
On both our visits, we have found the campground to have a wide selection of unoccupied campsites. Granted, we visit on weeknights.
One notable downside is the lack of cell service. This is normally a no-go for us. But as it is only one night and we are not up to working as it is. So, we manage.
Spooner’s Cove Beach
Across from the entrance to Islay Creek Campground is Spooner’s Cove Beach. The wide stretch of beach flanked by ocean-wrought rock formations is an ideal location to relax. We brought a picnic and a drone.
We love visiting Montaña de Oro State Park. It’s a standby for our coastal travels and an easy fallback when we are looking for somewhere to camp near Morro Bay. That said, there is a lot that we haven’t explored…yet. We see many hiking trails along the coast along with trails and dispersed camping for horseback riding.