2013 Winnebago Era
2013 Winnebago Era
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Central California is home to numerous coastal state parks. One of the best RV camping experiences will be at Morro Bay State Park when you book an RV in San Luis Obispo County. This 2,700-acre park is just 15 minutes west of the city of San Luis Obispo, in the maritime town of Morro Bay. Camping at Morro Bay State Park will give you immediate access to a beautiful estuary full of birds and hiking through coastal scrubland with views of the bay.
Volcanic forces formed Morro Bay, evident by the massive Morro Rock on Morro Rock Beach. This monolith is all that remains of the plug after a 23-million-year-old volcano eroded. The rock has long been used as a landmark for both sailors and overland explorers. But for a thousand years before that, the Chumash peoples called this area their home. They used Morro Bay for the bounty of marine life that provided food. Real estate developers had plans to develop a country club at what is now the campground, but the Great Depression put a stop to that. California acquired the land and turned it into a state park in 1934. Many of the facilities you'll use today were transformed from a country club to campground by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Morro Bay is perfect for ocean lovers. The small marina across from the campground rents out sailboats, canoes, and kayaks, which you can use to explore the protected bay. Paddle through the calm waters looking for marine mammals and the hundreds of migratory species of birds that stop for rest in this protected shelter. You can’t surf at the campground, but Morro Rock Beach isn’t that far away and is a hot spot for surfing.
There's an excellent network of hiking trails that will take you through Morro Bay State Park's diverse landscape and ecosystems. One of the more challenging trails will take you to Black Hill, the highest accessible point in the park at 661 feet above sea level. Your reward will be fantastic 360-degree views. Other trails will take you through dwarf oak forests, around the estuary, and over volcanic scrub. Easier, flat trails also meander through the golf course where hikers are welcome. One mile of the trail is wheelchair-accessible. Mountain bikes are also permitted on some of these trails; check the maps before you go.
Speaking of the golf course, this is often an overlooked feature of camping at Morro Bay State Park. The public 18-hole golf course is exceptional and one of the best courses around. The course borders the bay and estuary, and the views of the ocean may distract your game. But it will be worth it.
There's no shortage of RV campsites at Morro Bay State Park, but you may want to make reservations anyway. The park contains 134 campsites with a maximum RV length of 35 feet, though some sites have a 25-foot driveway. The coastal trees and scrub do provide some privacy and shade, but the north side of the campground is relatively barren. The campground operates year-round, and five sites are wheelchair-accessible.
Amenities at Morro Bay State Park campground include flushing toilets and coin-operated showers throughout the campground. Each site is equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and hookups for water and electric. There's a dump station at one end of the campground. Your pets are welcome at Morro Bay State Park campground, but they must be supervised and kept on a maximum six-foot leash at all times. They're not allowed on the trails.
Morro Bay State Park is home to an outstanding Museum of Natural History. The museum features exhibits on marine biology, Native American life, and geology. In addition, rangers can lead you on guided tours to learn about the natural resources in the park. One of these natural resources is a monarch butterfly roosting area bordering the campground. Other preserves right outside of the park include the Heron Rookery Natural Preserve, the Morro Estuary Natural Preserve, and Morro Rock Natural Preserve.
Within the town of Morro Bay, you'll find several things to do, like the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum and the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. Morro Rock Beach is a popular spot to relax on the beach and watch surfers, backdropped by the giant Morro Rock seemingly climbing out of the ocean. You'll find the Morro Bay Harbor Festival in the fall, featuring live music, food, and family games. Many other events throughout the year focus on the area's crucial marine life that has sustained humans here for centuries.
Morro Bay does have a few small gas stations and markets, but you may want to drive into San Luis Obispo for a more extensive selection of goods and lower prices. But before you leave Morro Bay, be sure to check in to one of the many excellent seafood restaurants along the bay to get your fill of oysters and shrimp. If you want to move on from Morro Bay State Park but continue to stay in the area, you can also camp at nearby Montaña de Oro State Park or Morro Strand State Beach. Or, drive your rental RV south along the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara or north to Monterey.