TRAVEL: 13 ways to see & photograph Morro Bay Rock
The huge 576 foot Morro Rock dominates the tiny 10,000 resident town of Morro Bay, California and no matter where you go in the city, you can’t miss it.
It’s visible as far as ten to 20 miles away in nearby Los Osos and Cayucos, for instance. The Rock itself sits on over 50 acres. Yes, it’s that big. Explorer Juan Cabrillo named it in 1542. In Spanish, it means “domed rock.”
With such a large subject, where do you go for the best view and photo?
We start in the south, in Los Osos and Montana de Oro State Park, and head north to Caycucos.
- Montana De Oro: The state park has a wonderful view looking off into the distance, through the water, of the big Rock. Plus, awesome hiking!
- Morro Bay Museum of Natural History, 20 State Park Road, Morro Bay. The museum focuses on the natural habitats of the area, and also happens to have a wonderful overlook atop the parking lot for a killer expansive view of the bay–and rock.
- Windy Cove, great hiking trail near the bird sanctuary, just up the way from the museum, for another wide view.
- Inn at Morro Bay, 60 State Park Road. The small boutique hotel has a terrific restaurant with the best seaside view of the Rock, and grounds worth exploring as well.
- Black Hill, Main Street and Parkview Drive. Just up the road from the golf course, at the top of the hill, is a hiking trail that lets you peer out at the entirety of Morro Bay from above. Like flying a drone, only higher. Park, and then walk slightly up the hill and you’ll get an even better view.
- T Pier,1185 Embarcadero. The place to come for otter viewing, and your shot of the Rock flanked by the boats of the marina.
- Coleman Park, 101 Coleman Drive My favorite spot in town, a local park that lets you see the Rock from the left side, with an amazing reflection in the water if you’re lucky enough to get there first thing in the morning, just after sunrise. I did my morning timelapse shot from the Museum, and regretted it. Next time I’d camp out at Coleman and watch the sun rise over the rock.
- Morro Rock. There is a massive parking lot right in front of the rock that leads to beach access. That’s the good news. The bad: this is not a good place to get your photo, as it’s very, very hard to fit the Rock into your frame, because you’re so close. But it does make for great sighting.
- Morro Strand Beach. Just up the road, by the high school and RV park, is a three-mile stretch of beach with great dunes. I can’t find an address listed, but type the name into Google Maps and you’ll get there.
- Morro Rock Strand Beach Dune. The best collection of Dunes, with parking easily available, this happens to be Ginger’s favorite spot for portraits. Again, no address available, but type into Google Maps and you’ll find it.
- North Point, Toro Lane. Another park on the north side of town, looking back at the Rock, with wonderful tidepools.
- Cayucos. The next town up from Morro is another coastal beauty, some 7 miles away, and the rock is still majestic and very visible on this rocky beach.
If you go:
Morro Bay is a three to four hour drive from the South Bay (traffic depending), and roughly just over 200 miles away. Head north on the 101 through Ventura, Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach before switching to Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo. Morro would be considered the beginning of the great Highway 1 coastal California road trip, leading you through Cayucos, Cambria, Big Sur, Carmel by the Sea and Monterey. (You can see our complete Highway 1 tour video series via this YouTube playlist.)