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Pismo Beach

From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Pismo State Beach, providing us with a breathtaking glimpse of nature in all her vibrant glory. This colony, easily accessible from Highway 1, is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 50,000 butterflies every year. Many of these fragile butterflies fly more than 1,000 miles, braving harsh weather conditions before coming to roost in the protected grove for the winter. During the season, the docent trailer opens every day at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Walks through the grove happen at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., weather permitting.

Monarch Dunes

The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat was once part of a 957 acre Tasmanian blue gum eucalyptus plantation in Nipomo, California, and has supported as many as 60,000 overwintering monarch butterflies. From late October to February, thousands of black and orange Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Trilogy Monarch Dunes in Nipomo, providing us with a breathtaking glimpse of nature in all her vibrant glory. Many of these fragile butterflies fly more than 1,000 miles, braving harsh weather conditions before coming to roost in the protected grove for the winter. The grove is open year-round with an interpretive trail. The Butterfly Habitat is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to all. Please park in the paved parking lot at 1610 Kingston Drive, which is immediately adjacent to the butterfly sanctuary. A wheel chair/stroller accessible paved path provides a short easy walk into the main cluster area. Picnic tables and trash receptacles are available. A public horse trail encircles the nineteen acre habitat, with hitching posts provided near the picnic area. There are no restroom or drinking water facilities on site.

Los Osos / Baywood

The Sweet Springs overwintering site is located in Los Osos along the southwest edge of the Morro Bay estuary. A prominent sign shows the entrance to the trails from the north side of Ramona Avenue. The site is part of an Audubon Nature Preserve, featuring a vegetative restoration project and access trails to monarchs and other scenic areas within the preserve. [post_title] => Monarch Butterfly Migration [post_excerpt] => From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Pismo State Beach [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => monarch-butterfly-migration-pb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-26 07:00:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/events/monarch-butterfly-migration-pb/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => events [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 105179 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-06-26 07:00:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:04 [post_content] => Plans are in place for a joyful celebration for Western Monarch Day at the Pismo Beach State Monarch Butterfly Grove. There will be butterfly talks and educational booths for adults, as well as activities for the children. The main attraction however, is the thousands of Monarchs hanging in huge clusters from the eucalyptus and pine trees in the grove. The grove will remain open through the month of February, from 10am to 4pm, with docents providing daily talks at 11am and 2pm. For more information visit www.monarchbutterfly.org. [post_title] => California Western Monarch Day Celebration [post_excerpt] => Plans are in place for a joyful celebration for Western Monarch Day at the Pismo Beach State Monarch Butterfly Grove. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => california-western-monarch-day-celebration-201 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-26 07:00:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/events/california-western-monarch-day-celebration-201/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => events [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 110837 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-06-26 07:00:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:03 [post_content] => Live bands will entertain visitors until 9pm, when the fireworks start! VIP seating is available on the pier for a charge. Enjoy a great day and night at the beach. [post_title] => 4th of July in Pismo Beach [post_excerpt] => Live bands will entertain visitors until 9pm, when the fireworks start! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 4th-july-pismo-beach-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-26 07:00:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/events/4th-july-pismo-beach-2/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => events [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 112919 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-04-24 20:31:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-25 04:31:04 [post_content] => Of the 101 miles of coastline in San Luis Obispo County, half are protected shoreline. In other words, the odds are good that surf, sand and sun are always within reach here. The Central Coast boasts some of the best beaches in the U.S., and certainly on the West Coast. What sets them apart? Think miles of white sand, uncrowded, untouched ― and unbelievably scenic. Visitors can find a spectrum of options, with ideal beaches for sunbathing, beachcombing, wildlife viewing, surfing, tidepooling, doggie fun or even dune-driving. No matter your idea of the perfect vacation, the beaches between Big Sur and Nipomo have you covered.

When To Visit

Due to temperate weather, the Central Coast’s beaches can be visited comfortably year-round. But depending on your goals, a bit of planning and insider info goes a long way.  For sunny family fun, swimming and kayaking, the months of July through October offer the best weather. For surfing, winter tends to be the best season for wind and swells. (Just bring a wetsuit! Central Coast waters can be quite chilly.) Opportunities for whale watching, bird watching, and elephant seal mating and birthing peak in winter to early spring. Beachcombing, pet play, horseback riding, tidepooling and driving on the beach occur year-round.

What To Bring

Weather tends to be temperate but can be changeable, so layered clothing is recommended. Bring towels, sunscreen, sand toys, boogie boards/surfboards, wetsuits, bottled water, snacks and beach blankets.

Best Beaches for Families on the Central Coast Along Highway 1

Avila Beach

Pick your perfect paradise on one of the best family beaches in California! This spacious beach features soft, fine sand and gentle waves, ideal for little ones and safe water play. (Lifeguards stand watch over the beach during peak summer months.) The boardwalk offers restrooms and outdoor showers, as well as the adjacent Pirate Park with basketball courts and a playground. Additional amenities include picnic tables, grill stands, and parking, along with multiple lodging options. Bring your family for a walk along the pier, or hit up one of the many restaurants that line the beach. Just remember to leave Fido at home between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M. (Or take him to Olde Port Beach / Fisherman’s Beach, just south on Avila Beach Drive, where off-leash dogs happily play.) Directions: From Highway 101, take the Avila Beach Drive exit and head west for 2.5 miles. Turn left on San Juan Street and take the next left onto Front Street, which faces the beach.

Cayucos State Beach

Cayucos State Beach blends sand, surf and sun for a classic California vibe. Kids will love the sizeable beach playground, tidepools and fishing off historic Cayucos Pier. (No fishing license required!) For surfers, the waves near the pier offer thrills, and surf schools like Cayucos Surf Company help newbies get in on the action. (Lifeguards watch the beach in summer months.) Multiple casual restaurants line the shore (including the sea-worthy Schooner’s Restaurant) as well as a range of accommodations. Other amenities include restrooms, outdoor showers, and parking. Dogs are allowed on Cayucos State Beach on leash. Directions: From the south, take Highway 1 to the 13th Street exit and head west on 13th Street. Turn right on South Ocean Drive and drive for 1 mile. Turn left on Cayucos Drive and left on Ocean Front Avenue, which faces the beach. From the north, turn right off Highway 1 onto North Ocean Avenue. After 0.7 miles turn right on Cayucos Drive and left on Ocean Front Avenue, which faces the beach. cayucos pier san simeon pier

W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, San Simeon

A local favorite, this beach stands adjacent to the town of Old San Simeon, across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle. In addition to calm waters and a long coastline, this protected cove also offers picnic sites, parking, restrooms, and grill stands. Little ones will enjoy sand play, walking the pier and fishing (no license required), as well as swimming, kayaking and sunbathing. The Coastal Discovery Center, just beside the beach, contains educational exhibits about the shoreline, wildlife, local history and more. Note that leash laws are enforced to the left of San Simeon Pier, but to the right, Fido can play leash-free. Directions: From Highway 1, turn onto Slo San Simeon Rd toward the ocean and follow to the beach.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria

One of the best beaches in Central California for beachcombing, Moonstone Beach encourages exploration for visitors of all ages. This beach is known for its smooth “moonstones” as well as sea glass and driftwood. Waves can be large and strong here, often unsuitable for swimming or surfing. But adjacent Shamel Park offers parking, restrooms, a playground, gazebo, horseshoes, playing field, and seasonal heated swimming pool. Note: dogs are not allowed on Moonstone Beach, but are permitted on leash in Shamel Park. Directions: From Highway 1, turn west on Windsor Boulevard. Drive 0.3 miles and park beside Shamel Park. Moonstone Beach can be accessed through the park. Walking along Cambria Boardwalk Must-See Spots In Cayucos

Morro Bay Strand State Beach Day Use Area, Cayucos

The 6 miles of white sand beach between Morro Rock and the Cayucos Pier make for a scenic and challenging walk in Highway 1 Discovery country. The Morro Bay Strand Day Use Area covers a section of that beach boasting ideal conditions for fishing, windsurfing and kite-flying. It’s also a popular training ground for joggers. With excellent facilities for picnicking, this stretch enjoys a picturesque view of Morro Rock in the distance. Note that leashed dogs are allowed in the adjacent campground, but not on the beach. Directions: The Morro Bay Strand lies 2 miles south of Cayucos on Highway 1. From Highway 1, head west on Cass Street. Make a slight left on 24th Street and follow toward the beach. Park in the lot beyond the State Beach sign.

Morro Bay Dog Beach, Cayucos

Let your four-legged friend play in the surf at this charming off-leash dog beach on Cayucos’s southern end. This stretch of coastline has something for the whole family, including beachcombing (sand dollars!), wildflowers, tidepools, surfing, fishing and birding. It also offers beautiful views of Morro Rock, as well as free parking. Note that this beach does not have restrooms or facilities. Also, if your dog is aggressive or has a strong hunting instinct, please leave him or her on leash or at home. Directions: Access North Point Dog Beach off Highway 1 just south of Cayucos. At Toro Creek Road, turn toward the ocean and find parking between the highway and the shoreline. Estero Bluffs in Cayucos, CA

Estero Bluffs Beach

Part of a scenic state park, this beach can be reached by hiking through grasslands along the bluffs. While several beaches skirt the trail below, the most accessible sits in a sandy cove where Villa Creek meets the sea. Here, find a great spot for tidepooling, whale and birdwatching, and beachcombing. Parking is easy to find along Highway 1 between Cayucos and Cambria. Directions: From Cayucos, drive north on Highway 1 for about four miles and look for parking areas on the ocean side of the road.

Best State Park Beaches on the Central Coast Along Highway 1

Montaña de Oro State Park

Want a state park with an ocean view? This scenic spot offers multiple options. If lounging by the ocean is your style, nothing beats the views at Spooner’s Cove beach. Find a protected cove here, fed by a freshwater stream perfect for wading. Amenities include bathrooms and free parking. (Note that dogs are permitted here on leash, but not on trails or other beaches.) For a challenge, try hiking Valencia Peak, a 4.2-mile loop trail that ascends 1,347 feet. One of the highest in the park, this peak makes for a moderately strenuous hike with striking wildflower and coastal views. To find the trailhead, enter the park and drive through the eucalyptus grove. The parking area for Valencia Peak is on the left, just beyond the visitor center. For horse lovers, Hazard Canyon provides terrific equestrian trails and access to potable water. Try the 11.2-mile Hazard Peak trail for a secluded, moderate ride. To get to the trailhead, enter Montaña de Oro State Park and drive through the eucalyptus grove. The trailhead will be on the left, just before Spooner’s Cove. The same views apply to mountain biking enthusiasts, too. Ride the Oats Peak Trail, an intermediate out-and-back singletrack clocking in at 11.2 miles and an ascent of more than 1,430 feet. To access the trailhead, enter the park and pass through the eucalyptus grove. Pass Spooner’s Cove and the visitor center, then turn left on the road to the Islay Creek Campground. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road, just before dropping to the campground. Directions: Travel 6 miles southwest from Morro Bay, or seven miles south from Los Osos on Pecho Valley Road. Spooner Cove at Montana de Oro

Morro Bay State Park

Visiting the Morro Bay State Park opens a window on the Central Coast at its finest. Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the marina, hiking, golfing or watching wildlife ― all beneath a stand of majestic Monterey Pines. Trails abound for hikers and mountain bikers, and kayakers will love cruising around the bay. (Note that dogs are allowed on trails with a leash.) When you’re ready for an indoor adventure, don’t miss the Natural History Museum, which has views of the ocean. Directions: Take Highway 1 to the Los Osos - Baywood Park exit. Drive west for about 1 mile, then turn right into the state park.

Pismo State Beach Oceano

As thrilling as it is beautiful, this state beach includes the Oceano State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), which permits vehicles to drive on the beach. Other activities here include swimming, surfing, kite-flying and horseback riding. Visitors can also enjoy surf fishing or digging for famous Pismo clams. And don’t miss the boardwalk from the SVRA parking lot to the Monarch Butterfly Grove Cross the freshwater lagoon adjacent to the grove for excellent birdwatching. (Note that dogs are allowed on leash only.) Directions: From Highway 101, take the exit toward Pismo Beach/Wadsworth Avenue. Head west on Highway 1 about 7 miles. Keep left at the fork to continue on Highway 1 / Dolliver Street for 3 miles.Turn right onto Pier Avenue, then right onto Pismo State Beach.

Best Central Coast Beach Vacation Towns Along Highway 1

Cambria

This seaside hamlet feels cozy and quaint beneath native stands of Monterey Pines. Hit Cambria Coffee Roasting Company for a cup of joe before heading to Moonstone Beach for majestic views and treasure-hunting. Then take a self-guided walk through Cambria’s historic streets with help from the Cambria Historical Society. Grab lunch at Robin’s Restaurant (don’t miss the lobster bisque!) and wander through Cambria’s boutiques and art galleries. Finish with a hike through the beachfront Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and luxurious seafood dinner and wine at the Sea Chest Oyster Bar. Main Street Cambria

Cayucos

Looking for classic beachy fun? Cayucos sits directly on the shoreline with personality to spare. Try breakfast at the Sea Shanty, then work it off with a walk along Cayucos State Beach. If the weather permits, enjoy surfing and sun bathing in its soft sand until lunchtime. Grab a slice at Ocean Front Pizza, or tacos at Ruddell’s Smokehouse before taking a walk along the historic pier. Try fishing off the side, or browse the antique and surf shops along Ocean Avenue. And don’t miss the Brown Butter Cookie Company, where brown butter cookies are topped with (what else?) sea salt. At dinner time, head to The Grill at the Cass House or Lunada Bistro for farm-to-table cuisine.

San Simeon

There’s plenty of fun to be had in San Simeon, land of castles and endless coastline. Take your cup of coffee up to the Elephant Seal Rookery, and watch the circle of life unfold before your very eyes. Then head to Hearst Castle State Park to experience the grandeur of William Randolph Hearst’s life and times.(Don’t miss the famous Neptune Pool! Or the zebras!) Afterward, lunch on gourmet sandwiches at Sebastian’s Cafe, followed by wine tasting at the adjacent Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room. Then walk down to the W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach and enjoy the sand between your toes. If time permits, learn about marine life and the history of San Simeon at the Coastal Discovery Center. Finish your busy day at the Ragged Point Inn with elegant cuisine, fine local wine, and an ocean view to remember. Whale Watching at the San Simeon Pier on Highway 1 Spooner Cove at Montana de Oro

Los Osos & Baywood

Start a day in Los Osos with coffee at the Back Bay Cafe, then head for Montaña de Oro State Park. Hike, bike, or ride a horse along any number of trails, then relax on the beach at Spooner’s Cove. For lunch, grab tasty Mexican fare at La Casita (plus chips and a container of their legendary salsa for take-away). Then enjoy walking the labyrinth in Baywood, or take in the many artist’s galleries and studios on 2nd Street. Munch those chips and salsa on the Baywood Pier, then dine at Blue Heron for farm-to-table cuisine and local wines.

Avila Beach

This protected paradise can be as exciting or as relaxed as you want it to be. Start with a walk beneath the leafy canopy of the Bob Jones Trail, with a stopover at Woodstone Marketplace for coffee and breakfast. Then finish at the beach for sunbathing, surfing or sand play.  (Avila Beach doesn’t welcome dogs between 10am and 5pm, but Fisherman’s Beach lets them roam off leash, down the road.) Or, if you golf, hit the links at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Either way, you’ll be hungry for lunch. Try Mersea’s for fresh seafood with a view, or Custom House for classic American fare. Afterward, stroll the boardwalk’s unique shops, or take a hike or trolley ride to the Point San Luis Lighthouse. (Remember to make a reservation for the visit!) For wine lovers, try wine tasting in spots like Sinor-Lavallee and Alapay Cellars. Finish with a French bistro dinner at Blue Moon Over Avila, or fresh flavors at romantic The Gardens of Avila. Oceano Dunes on Highway 1

Oceano

Have a freewheeling good time in this hidden gem by the sea! Begin the day with a walk - or ride - along the beach. The Oceano Dunes State Park Vehicular Area is the only beach in California that permits vehicles to drive on the beach. Looking for a thrill? Try a Hummer tour with an experienced guide. Oceano also welcomes horses and their riders to enjoy the sand and sea. Try hooking up with the Pacific Dunes Riding Ranch for information on trail rides and stables. After a busy morning, take a load off at Beach Burger, one of the best spots for piled-high burgers. In the afternoon, hit the Oceano Train Depot and Museum for a fascinating look at the town’s history. Afternoons also provide the best time for kite-flying, kite-boarding or paragliding on the shoreline. In the evening, try any one of Oceano’s famed Mexican restaurants like Chacho’s or Old Juan’s Cantina. Follow that with a show at the uproarious Great American Melodrama theater, where the laughs come a mile a minute. [post_title] => Best Beaches in Central California [post_excerpt] => The Central Coast boasts some of the best beaches in the U.S., and certainly on the West Coast. Visitors can find a spectrum of options, with ideal beaches for sunbathing, beachcombing, wildlife viewing, surfing, tidepooling, doggie fun or even dune-driving. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-best-beaches-in-central-california [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-08 18:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-09 02:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=112919 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 112718 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-03-19 16:37:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-20 00:37:36 [post_content] => Hiking along the Highway 1 Discovery Route showcases the diversity of this abundant place. From Ragged Point to Nipomo, each corner of coastal SLO CAL has its own distinctive flora, fauna, and history. Visitors along Highway 1 have their choice of tucked-away mountain trails, walks along rugged coastline and expansive wine country views. Some hikes pass beside quaint cafes and historic sites while others feel as remote as a world away. Some come with a soundtrack of crashing waves, others, with the hum of bees and singing crickets. Whatever your mood, the Highway 1 Discovery Route has a hike to suit it. Safety note: For even the tamest of hikes, be sure to bring water, a hat, sunscreen, ID, keys, your mobile phone, and a friend. Also bring cash (some trails charge a small fee) and be sure to remove all valuables from your vehicle at trailheads. Read below to learn about all the hiking options along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

Ragged Point Hiking Trails

Ragged Point Cliffside Trail

Steep cliffs and breathtaking panoramas mark this classic Ragged Point hike. Short and sweet, the trail measures less than 1 mile long, but descends (and ascends!) 400 feet in elevation. A narrow path of switchbacks leads to a small black sand beach fed by a seasonal waterfall. Bring grippy hiking shoes for this landmark hike, and enjoy the towering ocean views.

Fire Road Trail

Sweeping coastal views and a well maintained, graded road characterize this trail, found just across Highway 1 from Ragged Point Inn. Up and back, this 4-mile, 1700-foot-gain trail makes for an excellent scenic workout.

Salmon Creek Falls

With its 120-foot waterfall and easy trail access, Salmon Creek Falls is a short hike just off Highway 1 at Big Sur’s southern end. For a longer walk, take the trail to its end 6.5 miles in.

San Simeon Hiking Trails

San Simeon State Park

This 3.3-mile trail skirts sections of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and Washburn Campground. Look for coastal vista points, benches and interpretive signs about local wildlife, flora and fauna. Note: the trail section that skirts the seasonal wetland is wheelchair accessible.

Piedras Blancas, Boucher Trail

In just under 2 miles, this varied and interesting trail winds over coastal bluffs, grassland and wetland areas. Beginning at the paved elephant seal viewing parking, the trail ends a half mile north of the Piedras Blancas Light Station.

San Simeon Cove

Hiking San Simeon Cove belongs on any California dreaming bucket list. Find the trailhead by climbing the bluff at the north end of the cove. Then travel through a magical forest on the bluffs above the beach. Spanish moss hangs from eucalyptus, pine, cedar, and cypress trees along the way. At the end of the peninsula, a half-mile in, the cove sparkles against breathtaking views of rock formations on the beach.

Elephant Seals

The viewing boardwalks at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery comprise a section of the California Coastal Trail. Short, flat, and easy to walk, these boardwalks are also wheelchair accessible with terrific views of the elephant seals.

Junge Ranch Trail

This 2.2-mile out-and-back trail offers views of abundant wildflowers to hikers of all skill levels. Accessible all year long, the trail welcomes dogs on leash as well.

Pacific Valley Bluff Trail

Don’t miss a chance to stroll this San Simeon trail with unparalleled coastal views. This hike travels beside varied landscapes, from rocky coastline and cliffs to scrubby bushes and fields dotted with flowers. Walk up and down the sea’s edge, feel the sea spray and enjoy the views.

San Corpoforo Creek

The signs for this trail are hosted by the Los Padres National Forest, which owns a part of the wild, untouched beach at the end of the trail. Find a small parking area with a fence and gate on the north side of the Highway 1 bridge over San Carpoforo Creek. (The address of the house opposite is 18550 Cabrillo Highway, San Simeon, California.) The trailhead lies beyond the gate and leads to San Carpoforo Creek, which can sometimes be tricky to cross. But the reward for those who do is access to a remote sandy beach.

Washburn Campground Trails

In addition to the San Simeon State Park trail, another trail begins at the end of its boardwalk and crosses the wetland into a pine forest. It then cuts north along the shady side of a bluff and up a long hill to the upper State Park campground. Return to the start point along the east side of the campsites, or extend the walk to a larger loop east. This extension passes through a eucalyptus grove before returning to the starting point for a total hike of about 3 miles.

Cambria Hiking Trails

Moonstone Beach Trail

Cambria hiking at its most accessible and panoramic, this 2.85-mile out-and-back bluff trail features classic coastal scenery. Look for wildlife, explore tide pools on the beach, or admire the scenery from a comfortable bench. A large portion of this Cambria hiking trail includes the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, making for a comfortable walk for all skill levels. Dogs can come, too! (Just remember to keep them on leash.) Find the trailhead at the beginning of Moonstone Beach Drive and hike northwest through the pines along Santa Rosa Creek. You’ll see the boardwalk begin after just 0.2 miles.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

One of the most breathtaking hiking trails near Cambria, this preserve once belonged to the Chumash and Salinian Native Indian tribes. Today, it is permanently protected from development, thanks to the American Land Conservancy and the local chapter of SWAP (Small Wilderness Area Preservation). This favorite 1-mile trail along the Pacific Ocean welcomes pedestrians, horseback riders, and bicyclists. It also protects the home of many endangered species, including red-legged frogs and Monterey pines. Completely ADA accessible, this trail is a reminder of what dedicated citizens can do to protect a precious space. At 437 acres, the preserve has multiple entrances. Consult this map for more detailed access information.

Fern Canyon Henry Cluck Trail

Another secluded Cambria hiking trail, this one passes through Fern Canyon, crosses Fern Drive and dead ends in a chaparral near Highway 1. At about 1.5 miles, this out-and-back easy hike showcases Cambria’s Monterey pines, oaks, ferns and a seasonal creek. To find the trailhead, head south on Highway 1 and turn right on Burton Drive. Make another right on Fern Drive and follow to the bottom of Fern Canyon. The trail marker is at the left.

Lampton Cliffs Park

One of the best short hikes near Cambria, this trail loops through a 2-acre park on the south edge of town. Toward the beach, stairs lead down to the rocks and crashing waves, especially dramatic during winter swells. At low tide, though, tidepooling becomes the activity of choice here. Find the trailhead at the intersection of Lampton Street and South Windsor Boulevard with a small parking lot.

Leffingwell Landing

With short hiking trails, Leffingwell Landing offers a beautiful lookout and access to a rocky shore with great tide pools. Visitors at the right time of year might be lucky enough to spot a whale or two. Find this special spot where Moonstone Beach Drive meets State Park Road in Cambria.

Strawberry Canyon Trail

One of the most secluded hiking trails in Cambria, Strawberry Canyon comprises a large, 1-mile loop. Peace and quiet characterize this walk, along a secluded trail beneath towering pines. To reach the trailhead from Highway 1 in Cambria, drive 0.75 miles south on Burton Drive until you reach Kay Street on the left. The trail is across the street, on the right side of Burton Drive.

Cayucos Hiking Trails

Estero Bluffs

Part of the Estero Bluffs State Park, this easy 3-mile hike includes wide, flat trails through coastal rushes and panoramic views of Morro Bay and Morro Rock. To find the trailhead, take Highway 1 North past Cayucos. Pull into the rustic parking lot just past town on the west side of the highway. This is one of the best Cayucos hikes for a picnic!

Whale Rock Reservoir

One of SLO County’s best hikes with a 360-degree view, the Whale Rock Reservoir runs out-and-back at a total of 4 miles long. The trail travels through the 1,350-acre reserve, and is uncrowded and easy to walk. Bring dogs on leash, but beware of ticks! The best months for this hike are during the dry season, April through November. Enjoy viewing wildflowers and bird-watching throughout. Get to the trailhead by driving south on Highway 1 from Cayucos. At Old Creek Road, turn left. Drive 1.5 miles and park on the left before the the PG&E substation.

Hang Glider Hill Trail

At 1 mile round trip, this trail can be hiked by just about anyone. Fans of hang gliding will enjoy watching people take off from here, with long views of the ocean as backdrop. To reach the trailhead, drive south on Highway 1 from Cayucos; turn left onto Ocean Boulevard, right on Haines Avenue, right on Davies Avenue and continue up the hill to the dirt road.

Harmony Headlands State Park Trail

A former cattle ranch from the 1800s, this land was purchased by the Land Conservancy in 2003 and deeded to California State Parks. Today, the easy 4-mile round-trip trail passes the historic ranch house and along coastal bluffs with views of the ocean. Be forewarned that dogs are not allowed on this trail. Find the trailhead 6.8 miles north of Cayucos on Highway 1, on the ocean side of the highway.

Trail tips for hiking in Cayucos

Learn More

Los Osos & Baywood Hiking Trails

Montaña de Oro State Park & Hazard Canyon Reef

Located within Montaña de Oro State Park, Hazard Canyon Reef is a gorgeous beach with tide pools and scenic views. Take the 1-mile hike on the Dune Trail to safely access the mouth of the canyon. Walk through the 4-way junction, then between the dunes, and the trail will end at a rocky shore. Explore the tide pools for hermit crabs, sea stars, sand dollars and anemones. The trail is named after a prior landowner who planted eucalyptus trees in hopes of selling them as lumber.

Audubon Sweet Springs Nature Preserve

This 24-acre preserve offers hiking trails and excellent views of Morro Bay and Morro Rock. Managed by the Morro Coast Audubon Society, the preserve is located on the north side of Ramona Avenue between Broderson and 4th Street. Trails lead among Monterey Cypress and eucalyptus to two freshwater ponds, and around a salt marsh to the edge of Morro Bay. Several threatened and endangered species of birds populate the preserve, and many shorebirds and ducks winter in the adjoining bay. From late October to March, Monarch butterflies also cluster here.

Black Hill Trail

Nine peaks between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay originated as volcanoes beneath the sea fifteen million years ago. After the sea and volcanic explosions subsided, erosion began dissolving the softer mountain material around the volcanic rock. Nine volcanic peaks remain, including Hollister Peak and the famed Morro Rock. Black Hill, the last peak in the series, offers a 0.6-mile trail with a little of everything: chaparral, eucalyptus, oaks, pines, and coastal shrubs. From the mountain's 640-foot summit, you can view the Morro Bay Estuary, the sand spit, and the hills of nearby Montaña de Oro. Hikers looking for more can hike to the summit starting farther down Black Hill. To find the trailhead, drive through the Morro Bay Golf Course, turning right at the first intersection and up the unmarked Black Hill Road. Follow 0.8 miles up the hill to the end of the road and park.

Bluff Trail

Inside Montaña de Oro State Park, this trail spans 3.4 miles round trip, passing coastal bluffs, tide pools, beaches and rocky coastline. The trailhead can be found across that of Valencia Peak, just near the visitor center. Start across a wooden bridge and then take in views of the sea, including Spooner's Cove. Stop at Corallina Cove after a half mile or continue on for more rugged trail and Quarry Cove.

El Moro Elfin Forest

Adjacent to the Morro Bay Estuary, this 90-acre natural area belongs to San Luis Obispo County Parks and California State Parks. Foliage includes coastal brackish marsh, riparian woodland fringe, pygmy oak woodland, maritime chaparral, coastal dune scrub, and oak and manzanita. The Elfin Forest supports more than 110 kinds of birds, 22 species of mammals and 13 species of reptiles and amphibians. Chumash middens can also be found throughout the park. A mile-long boardwalk loop provides access for young and old, walkers and wheelchair users, and protects the forest’s sensitive habitat. The Los Osos/Morro Bay Chapter of Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) removes invasive plants, provides erosion control, and conducts plant revegetation projects. SWAP also sponsors monthly third-Saturday nature walks and educational walks for local schools.

Quarry Trail

This 2-mile, moderately difficult loop trail lies on the east side of Morro Bay State Park. The Quarry Trail skirts the southern flank of Cerro Cabrillo, a 911-foot double-peaked ridge. The hike’s name refers to the rubble piles of an abandoned quarry site used for road construction in the 1950s.

Avila Beach Hikes

Bob Jones Trail

Of all the Avila Beach hikes, the Bob Jones Trail provides the leafiest, most family-friendly. Also called the "City to the Sea" trail, the paved path is popular as a hiking, jogging and biking route. The trail winds alongside San Luis Obispo Creek towards Avila Beach, stretching 2.5 miles each way. From the trail are views of bridges spanning the wide creek, the Avila Beach Golf Course, the town of Avila and the Pacific Ocean. You can even stop off at Woodstone Market for lunch or a snack along the route!

Mallagh Landing

Commonly referred to as Pirate's Cove, the Mallagh Landing name is more accurate given the history of the land. In 1849, David Mallagh came to California as a sailing captain and built a small wharf and an adobe nearby. The Mallagh home can still be found under the hills of Ontario Grade. Mallagh Landing offers a hike near Avila Beach with scenic views of the coastline and Port San Luis Harbor. The route from the harbor to the landing is popular with kayakers. The hike over land is 9.3 miles, but is considered easy and can be done in about 3 hours. Both the walk and the bird watching are worthwhile.

Ontario Ridge Trail

One of the most scenic Avila Beach hiking trails, this 4-mile trail travels over a steep ridge above Shell Beach. For spectacular ocean views, start at the Shell Beach trailhead or at Cave Landing in Avila Beach and hike the full loop. Coastal sage surrounds the steep, rugged trail, passing views of Mallagh Landing, Avila Valley, San Luis Obispo, and Shell Beach.

Pecho Coast Trail & Rattlesnake Canyon

The Pecho Coast Trail comprises 3.75 miles round trip along a scenic coastal trail to the historic Point San Luis Lighthouse. Many native plants and animals flourish along the trail. Wildflowers can be seen in the spring, as well as gray whales swimming offshore.All hikes along the Pecho Coast Trail are docent-led and require a reservation. Learn from docent naturalists about the local history of Avila Beach and the Chumash tribe that once lived here. For those looking to hike further, the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail winds past the Point San Luis Lighthouse and loops back for a round-trip total of 8 miles. To preserve and maintain the space, the trail is limited to a set number of hikers on specified dates.

Arroyo Grande & Edna Valley Hiking

Black Lake Trail

The Black Lake Trail in the Arroyo Grande Valley offers a 2-mile, easy to moderate out-and-back hike. Accessible year-round, the trail offers views of Black Lake.

Big Falls Trail

Tucked away behind Lopez Lake lies Big Falls, one of the most scenic spots on the Central Coast. The two waterfalls along Big Falls Creek are some of the best around and worth the trek. To get to the trailhead, turn onto Hi Mountain Road, located just before the entrance to Lopez Lake Recreation Area, and then veer left onto Upper Lopez Canyon Road. The trail travels through a sycamore and oak forest to the 40-foot Lower Big Falls and, further up, 80-foot Big Falls.

Cougar Trail

The entrance for Cougar Trail lies near the entry to Lopez Lake Recreation Area. Close to 3 miles long, the trail welcomes hikers, dogs and mountain bikes. Enjoy scenic views, groves of oak trees and wildlife viewing.

High Ridge Trail

This trail passes a series of steep canyons east of Lopez Lake along a fire ridge. The hike offers scenic lake views and fossils can be found along the path and in the surrounding rock. The east to moderate hike is 5 miles out and back, and is accessible year-round.

Horizon Hike

Tolosa Winery leads a Horizon Hike over Edna Valley. Enjoy a mild hike, learn about the vines as you walk and take in a 360-degree view of the valley. Trout Creek Trail Looking for an equestrian-friendly trail? Trout Creek Trail in the Arroyo Grande Valley is almost 8 miles out and back and is well suited for horses and dogs. Enjoy listening to the creek and identifying a variety of birds on the moderate trail. Accessible March to November.

Cerro San Luis Trail

Cerro San Luis Obispo is the large morro looming over San Luis Obispo, stamped with a large letter "M." It stands for Mission School, not Madonna Inn (which sits at its base) as many believe. The trail up this volcanic peak has great views of Laguna Lake and Bishop's Peak. From the summit, there are views of San Luis Obispo, the Santa Lucia Mountains and peaks to Morro Bay.

Oceano & Nipomo Hiking

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes

A trail from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve to Mussel Rock spans 5.2-mile out and back. Hikers, trail runners and naturalists use the moderately difficult trail, which offers scenic coastal views.

Oceano Dunes Preserve Trail

Best known for the State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), the Oceano Dunes Preserve also offers a quiet, uncrowded trail to walk. To reach the trailhead from southbound Highway 1, drive to Oceano (south of Pismo Beach and Grover Beach). Turn west on Pier Avenue and park at the entrance to the SVRA. Walk a half mile south, parallel to the water’s edge, to the dune entrance. You can also walk along Strand Way, a neighborhood street that parallels the beach. This reaches Arroyo Grande Creek, which also leads to the dune preserve entrance.

Nipomo Native Garden

This 0.6-mile trail stretches over a 12-acre botanical garden featuring plants native to the Nipomo Mesa Guadalupe Dunes complex. The trail travels through both developing and established woodland, with interpretive displays and kiosks throughout. The garden is used for recreation as well as research into plant community dynamics on the Nipomo Mesa.Open during daylight hours, the garden offers an easy hike plus benches from which to enjoy the view. The garden can be found between Pomeroy, Camino Caballo and Osage Streets in Nipomo, with parking available on Osage. [post_title] => Hike On Highway 1 [post_excerpt] => Hiking along the Highway 1 Discovery Route showcases the diversity of this abundant place. From Ragged Point to Nipomo, each corner of coastal SLO CAL has its own distinctive flora, fauna, and history. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => where-to-hike-on-highway-1 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-22 21:00:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-23 05:00:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=112718 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97825 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-03-02 20:00:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-03 04:00:57 [post_content] =>

 Whale Watching on the Whale Trail

When it comes to whale watching, the Central Coast boasts an embarrassment of riches, especially along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. Here, whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals and seabirds play within full view of the shoreline.

To make the most of wildlife viewing, the Whale Trail organization has identified the best whale watching spots on the West Coast. Of those 100 Whale Trail sites, San Luis Obispo County contains a whopping ten. (That’s the most in one county along the entire California coast!) Six of those whale watching viewpoints stand along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

Each of the Whale Trail viewpoints offers interpretive signs containing helpful information about the sealife commonly seen there. Species, seasonal and migration facts augment the whale watching experience. (And one special site in San Simeon even provides telescopes for easy viewing!)

Before embarking on your whale watching adventure, be sure to read our wildlife viewing tips. You’ll also learn how you can help preserve this special stretch of coastline even as you enjoy its beauty.

When to go whale watching on Highway 1

When’s the best time for whale watching on Highway 1? This depends on what kind of whales you hope to see and where you hope to see them. Gray whales can usually be found migrating south from Alaska starting in October, then back again from mid-February to May. Less commonly seen blue whales (including humpbacks, fin, Bryde’s, sei, and Minke whales) migrate north during the summer, and visit the Central Coast annually for the summer krill bloom. Other species can be found at Whale Trail sites year-round, including common dolphins, California sea lions and sea otters.

What to bring whale watching on Highway 1

Like any excursion, whale watching is an adventure, so plan accordingly. Bring binoculars if you have them, as these will definitely equip you to see more offshore wildlife. As for clothing, do as the locals do and dress in layers. Weather on the Central Coast is generally very mild, but can be breezy. Don’t forget a hat, your camera or phone, sunscreen, water, and any pocket guide to whale watching you may own. Don't forget to review our wildlife viewing tips before heading out.

Whale Watching at the San Simeon Pier on Highway 1

San Simeon Whale Watching

San Simeon has not one but two Whale Trail sites: in Old San Simeon and in the newer part of town. Both offer some of the best whale watching on the Central Coast.

Old San Simeon viewpoint

The Whale Trail sign stands at the San Simeon Bay Pier, overlooking William Randolph Hearst State Beach. To get there, head north on Highway 1 and turn left onto Slo San Simeon Road, just past the entrance to Hearst Castle. Find a spacious parking lot at the beach, and walk to the pier. Don’t forget to check out binoculars and guides for viewing San Simeon Bay Wildlife at the Coastal Discovery Center nearby.

Cavalier Resort viewpoint

The Whale Trail sign stands on the boardwalk next to the Cavalier Resort at 9419 Hearst Drive. To get there, take Highway 1 North and turn left on Pico Avenue. Make another left on Hearst Drive and park at the Cavalier Resort. (Don’t miss the three telescopes available for wildlife viewing here.)

What you might see whale watching in San Simeon

Gray whales, minke whales, harbor seals, California sea lions and sea otters can be spotted in these sites often. And occasionally? People have spied harbor porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, humpback whales and even orcas.

When to visit San Simeon for whale watching

Catch sight of a gray whale headed south in October, then again traveling north between mid-February and May. Other species can be seen year-round, with summer months being the most active.

Whale Fluke on Highway 1

Cambria Whale Watching

Whale watching represents just one of the many fun activities available at Shamel Park in Cambria. The six-acre park offers access to Moonstone Beach and includes a seasonal swimming pool, children’s area, and picnic facilities.

How to get to Shamel Park

Take Highway 1 north to Windsor Boulevard, turn left and drive until you reach the park at the curve in the road.

What you might see whale watching in Cambria

Commonly seen species include gray whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, California sea lions, and sea otters. Sometimes, humpback whales, minke whales and harbor porpoises have also been seen.

When to visit Cambria for whale watching

Gray whale southern migration starts in December and ends in February, while the northern migration occurs through March and April. Other species can be seen year-round.

Whale Trail Sign on Highway 1

Cayucos Whale Watching

Very little beats whale watching in quaint, beachy Cayucos. The Whale Trail sign stands on the Cayucos Pier, originally built in 1872 by Captain James Cass, the town founder.

How to get to Cayucos Pier

Take Highway 1 South to North Ocean Avenue and make a right toward the beach. Turn right on Ocean Front Avenue and find parking along that street. Find the Cayucos Pier at 10 Ocean Front Avenue.

What you might see whale watching in Cayucos

Harbor seals, California sea lions, sea otters and humpback whales can be seen here, as well as the occasional orca and gray whale. Also, don’t miss sea urchins, anemones, crabs, starfish and more in the nearby tidepools!

When to visit Cayucos for whale watching

The best time to see gray whales is March and April, when mothers and calves swim closer to shore during migration. Watch for the acrobatics of humpback whales in spring and summer, as migration takes them south to feeding grounds. That species is known for its breaching, fin-slapping, and tail fluking.

Spooner Cove at Montana de Oro

Los Osos-Baywood Park Whale Watching

Make a day of exploring majestic Montaña de Oro State Park in Los Osos-Baywood Park, and include whale watching in your fun.

How to get to Montaña de Oro State Park

Drive south on Highway 1 and take exit 277 toward Los Osos/Baywood Park. Turn right onto South Bay Boulevard and again, right on Los Osos Valley Road. This becomes Pecho Valley Road, which enters Montaña de Oro State Park. The Whale Trail sign stands at the south end of the park, north of Corrallina Cove. Reach the sign 1.65 miles into the Bluff Trail (trailhead near Spooner’s Cove).

What you might see whale watching in Los Osos

Gray whales, otters, seals, dolphins, seabirds and humpback whales can be seen here.

When to visit Los Osos for whale watching

The annual migration of gray whales brings them offshore from December through April. All other species can be seen year-round, but especially active in summer.

Avila Beach Whale Watching

Whale watching can be pretty idyllic in picturesque Avila Beach. Make an afternoon of it by booking a patio table at a beachside restaurant, ordering a bottle of wine, and keeping your binoculars handy.

How to get to Avila Beach

The Whale Trail sign stands on the Avila Beach Pier. Drive south on Highway 101 and take exit 196 for San Luis Bay Dr toward See Canyon/Avila Beach. Turn right on San Luis Bay Drive and, at the intersection, turn right on Avila Beach Drive. Make a left on San Miguel Street and follow to the shoreline. Find parking in town, or in a parking lot and wander to the beach and pier.

What you might see whale watching in Avila Beach

Gray whales and humpback whales feed in the protected waters of Avila Beach each year. Looking for more? Don’t miss dolphins, sea lions, and sea otters off Harford Pier, a working port further along Avila Beach Drive.

When to visit Avila Beach for whale watching

Gray whales migrate past Avila Beach between December and April. Humpback whales are visible from shore year-round.

Nipomo & Oceano Whale Watching

The rugged California beach towns of Oceano and Nipomo sit at the end of one of the state’s largest dune complexes. Watch the whales ― then watch visitors driving and horseback riding on the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

How to get to Oceano Dunes

The Whale Trail sign stands on the overlook to Pismo State Beach at West Grand Avenue (next to Fin’s Seafood parking lot). From Highway 101 South, take exit 191A for CA-1 S toward Pismo Beach/Wadsworth Ave. Continue on Highway 1/Dolliver Road for two miles. At the intersection of Grand Avenue, turn right and find parking where Grand Avenue terminates at the beach.

What you might see whale watching in Oceano

Keep your eyes open for gray whale spouts, which resemble a heart shape. Also look for humpback whales, whose spouts are taller and shaped like a column.

When to visit Oceano for whale watching

Find gray whales migrating between December and April, while humpbacks can be spied offshore throughout the year. Don’t miss this site’s plentiful seabird population, either!

Whales Almost Eat Divers - Avila Beach

Bonus spots for whale watching in San Luis Obispo County

Find neighboring whale watching sites like Morro Bay for gray whales, humpback whales, Minke whales, and Risso’s Dolphins. (Turn west onto Yerba Buena from Highway 1. Turn right on Toro Lane and drive to the bluff.) Another great spot for whale watching is on the Pismo Beach Pier, overlooking Pismo State Beach from a different angle.

[post_title] => Whale Trail [post_excerpt] => When it comes to whale watching, the Central Coast boasts an embarrassment of riches, especially along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. Here, whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals and seabirds play within full view of the shoreline. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => best-places-for-whale-watching-california [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-14 06:33:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-14 14:33:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/whale-trail-all/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97399 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2019-02-14 20:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-15 04:00:53 [post_content] =>

Monarch Butterfly Groves

What’s orange and black and flutters all over? Western Monarch butterflies, of course! These jewel-toned beauties migrate twice per year, like birds. Many other butterfly species are hardy enough to weather a chilly winter, but Monarchs can’t survive in cold northern climes. To warm their wings, they overwinter in a favorite Monarch butterfly grove along the Highway 1 Discovery Route each year between October and February. During the winter, clusters of orange wings cover the trees in Monarch butterfly groves in Pismo Beach, Nipomo, Los Osos and Morro Bay. (Researchers have counted up to 230,000 Monarch butterflies in a single season at the Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove.) As the weather warms in spring, the butterflies begin migrating north. Western Monarchs can travel over 1,000 miles to reach their next migration point. Western Monarchs live west of the Rockies and migrate up and down the West Coast, between southern Canada and San Diego. Eastern Monarchs, on the other hand, live east of the Rocky Mountains and migrate south each winter to Mexico. A sunny winter day offers ideal conditions to see Monarch butterflies along Highway 1. Monarch butterflies become active when the sun hits their wings. Appropriately enough, mating season reaches its peak near Valentine’s Day ― an animated time at Monarch butterfly groves, indeed! Prepare for a spectacular natural show by bringing water, sunscreen, a jacket, binoculars and comfortable shoes.

Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

One of the largest Monarch butterfly colonies in North America, the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove sees thousands of butterflies annually. During the winter season, Monarchs cluster in the branches of a stand of eucalyptus trees in Pismo State Beach. These Pismo Beach Monarchs live six months ― nearly five months longer than the lifespan of the common Monarch butterfly. Experts believe this is due to a fat-storing system unique to these migrants. In addition to butterfly visitors, the grove welcomes people from across the West to witness these majestic creatures in the trees. Throughout the season, trained docents lead daily talks and offer insight into the Western Monarch butterfly life cycle. Volunteers also offer powerful telescopes for seeing Monarchs high in the trees.

How to get to the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

From the north: From Southbound Highway 101, take exit 190B for Hinds Ave/Price Cyn Rd. Head southeast on Price St toward Hinds Ave. Turn right at the second cross street onto Stimson Ave. Turn left at the first cross street onto CA-1 S/Dolliver St and continue for 0.8 miles. The grove will be on your right just past the North Beach State Campground. From the south: From Northbound Highway 101, take exit 190 for Price St/Hinds Ave. Turn left onto Ocean View Ave, then turn left onto CA-1 S/Dolliver St. Continue for 0.8 miles. The grove will be on your right just past the North Beach State Campground.

When to visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove

The grove is open from late October through the month of February from 10 am to 4 pm. The area provides picnic tables, a restroom, and a gift shop selling books, toys, and butterfly-related items.

Docent tours at the Monarch Butterfly Grove

Trained docents provide free daily talks at 11 am and 2 pm, weather permitting.

Monarch Dunes Butterfly Grove in Nipomo

In Nipomo, the nineteen-acre Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat became a preserved sanctuary in 2006. This grove of blue gum eucalyptus trees has been home to as many as 60,000 Monarch butterflies during winter seasons. An endowment secures management and protection of this precious habitat as a permanent Monarch butterfly migration point for years to come. High winds had historically caused numbers of Monarchs to decrease. An advisory group has planted Monterey cypress trees on the borders of the habitat, though, as a wind buffer for Monarchs. Grove conditions continue to improve, with numbers of overwintering Monarch butterflies increasing annually.

Golf courses

The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat sits at the heart of the Trilogy at Monarch Dunes resort community ― also home to two destination golf courses. Try the championship ‘Old Course” or the newest 12-hole Challenge Course designed by Steve Pate and Damian Pascuzzo.Monarch Dunes Golf Club offers private instruction, as well as dining options on-site.

Volunteer-led tours

The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat offers docent-led tours throughout the winter season. For a list of upcoming talks, contact volunteers at the Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat.

Monarch Butterfly Groves in Los Osos

Home to two Monarch butterfly groves, Los Osos offers just the sort of habitat Monarchs prefer: a temperate coastal climate and access to nectar.

Monarch Grove Natural Area in Los Osos

With 18 acres at the end of Monarch Lane in Los Osos, the Monarch Grove Natural Area offers plenty of habitat. With the help of a retired Cal Poly biology professor, this Monarch butterfly habitat is becoming a more welcoming site for Monarchs. The Monarch Grove Natural Area can be found in the Monarch Grove Homes development just off Pecho Valley Road. From Los Osos Valley Road, turn right on Monarch Lane, just where the road forks left toward Montaña de Oro State Park. Turn right on Del Norte to the Sea Pines Golf Course. Park at the golf course and follow signs to the Monarch Grove Natural Area.

Sea Pines Golf Course

Close to the natural area, enjoy a nine-hole executive course, disc golf course, and footgolf course at Sea Pines Golf Resort. The Central Coast’s only hotel directly on a golf course, Sea Pines offers a driving range, practice area, and dining options. Views of coastal dunes and wildlife also make this course special.

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in Los Osos

Located on the Morro Bay estuary, this natural preserve has been managed by the Morro Coast Audubon Society since 1989. The 24-acre preserve acts as home to clusters of Monarch butterflies from late October to March. Follow trails through Monterey Cypress and eucalyptus trees and alongside freshwater ponds. In addition to Monarch butterflies, many shorebirds winter here. To get to the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve from Highway 1,take the South Bay Blvd. exit just east of Morro Bay. Continue on South Bay Boulevard to Santa Ysabel Avenue and turn right. Turn left at 7th Street and right onto Ramona Avenue. The site is located on the right (north) side of Ramona Avenue. A prominent sign shows the entrance to the trails.

Morro Bay Golf Course Monarch Butterfly Grove

At the center of Morro Bay Golf Course, a grove of eucalyptus trees offers its branches for migrating Monarch butterflies. In fact, this Monarch habitat has been known to receive butterflies early ― as early as August, some years. What’s more, the beautiful Monarchs tend to land low on the branches, making them extremely easy for viewers to see. To reach the Morro Bay Golf Course Butterfly Grove, from Highway 1, take exit 277 toward Los Osos/Baywood Park and turn right onto South Bay Boulevard. Turn right onto Park View Road/State Park Road and stay on Park View Dr. Follow signs to Morro Bay Golf Course.

Tour info

Morro Bay Golf Course provides tours of the natural Monarch butterfly grove throughout the winter, weather permitting. Witness thousands of Monarch butterflies up close after a short hike to the viewing area. For more information, contact the Morro Bay Golf Course. [post_title] => Monarch Butterfly Grove on Highway 1 [post_excerpt] => The site is part of an Audubon Nature Preserve, featuring a vegetative restoration project and access trails to monarchs and other scenic areas within the preserve. From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in cities along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => monarch-butterfly-grove [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-02-14 21:13:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-02-15 05:13:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/monarch-butterfly-grove/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97473 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-02-14 12:01:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-14 20:01:08 [post_content] =>

Monarch Butterfly Groves

What’s orange and black and flutters all over? Western Monarch butterflies, of course! These jewel-toned beauties migrate twice per year, like birds. Many other butterfly species are hardy enough to weather a chilly winter, but Monarchs can’t survive in cold northern climes. To warm their wings, they overwinter in a favorite Monarch butterfly grove along the Highway 1 Discovery Route each year between October and February. During the winter, clusters of orange wings cover the trees in Monarch butterfly groves in Pismo Beach, Nipomo, Los Osos and Morro Bay. (Researchers have counted up to 230,000 Monarch butterflies in a single season at the Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove.) As the weather warms in spring, the butterflies begin migrating north. Western Monarchs can travel over 1,000 miles to reach their next migration point. Western Monarchs live west of the Rockies and migrate up and down the West Coast, between southern Canada and San Diego. Eastern Monarchs, on the other hand, live east of the Rocky Mountains and migrate south each winter to Mexico. A sunny winter day offers ideal conditions to see Monarch butterflies along Highway 1. Monarch butterflies become active when the sun hits their wings. Appropriately enough, mating season reaches its peak near Valentine’s Day ― an animated time at Monarch butterfly groves, indeed! Prepare for a spectacular natural show by bringing water, sunscreen, a jacket, binoculars and comfortable shoes.

Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

One of the largest Monarch butterfly colonies in North America, the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove sees thousands of butterflies annually. During the winter season, Monarchs cluster in the branches of a stand of eucalyptus trees in Pismo State Beach. These Pismo Beach Monarchs live six months ― nearly five months longer than the lifespan of the common Monarch butterfly. Experts believe this is due to a fat-storing system unique to these migrants. In addition to butterfly visitors, the grove welcomes people from across the West to witness these majestic creatures in the trees. Throughout the season, trained docents lead daily talks and offer insight into the Western Monarch butterfly life cycle. Volunteers also offer powerful telescopes for seeing Monarchs high in the trees.

How to get to the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

From the north: From Southbound Highway 101, take exit 190B for Hinds Ave/Price Cyn Rd. Head southeast on Price St toward Hinds Ave. Turn right at the second cross street onto Stimson Ave. Turn left at the first cross street onto CA-1 S/Dolliver St and continue for 0.8 miles. The grove will be on your right just past the North Beach State Campground. From the south: From Northbound Highway 101, take exit 190 for Price St/Hinds Ave. Turn left onto Ocean View Ave, then turn left onto CA-1 S/Dolliver St. Continue for 0.8 miles. The grove will be on your right just past the North Beach State Campground.

When to visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove

The grove is open from late October through the month of February from 10 am to 4 pm. The area provides picnic tables, a restroom, and a gift shop selling books, toys, and butterfly-related items.

Docent tours at the Monarch Butterfly Grove

Trained docents provide free daily talks at 11 am and 2 pm, weather permitting.

Monarch Dunes Butterfly Grove in Nipomo

In Nipomo, the nineteen-acre Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat became a preserved sanctuary in 2006. This grove of blue gum eucalyptus trees has been home to as many as 60,000 Monarch butterflies during winter seasons. An endowment secures management and protection of this precious habitat as a permanent Monarch butterfly migration point for years to come. High winds had historically caused numbers of Monarchs to decrease. An advisory group has planted Monterey cypress trees on the borders of the habitat, though, as a wind buffer for Monarchs. Grove conditions continue to improve, with numbers of overwintering Monarch butterflies increasing annually.

Golf courses

The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat sits at the heart of the Trilogy at Monarch Dunes resort community ― also home to two destination golf courses. Try the championship ‘Old Course” or the newest 12-hole Challenge Course designed by Steve Pate and Damian Pascuzzo.Monarch Dunes Golf Club offers private instruction, as well as dining options on-site.

Volunteer-led tours

The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat offers docent-led tours throughout the winter season. For a list of upcoming talks, contact volunteers at the Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat.

Monarch Butterfly Groves in Los Osos

Home to two Monarch butterfly groves, Los Osos offers just the sort of habitat Monarchs prefer: a temperate coastal climate and access to nectar.

Monarch Grove Natural Area in Los Osos

With 18 acres at the end of Monarch Lane in Los Osos, the Monarch Grove Natural Area offers plenty of habitat. With the help of a retired Cal Poly biology professor, this Monarch butterfly habitat is becoming a more welcoming site for Monarchs. The Monarch Grove Natural Area can be found in the Monarch Grove Homes development just off Pecho Valley Road. From Los Osos Valley Road, turn right on Monarch Lane, just where the road forks left toward Montaña de Oro State Park. Turn right on Del Norte to the Sea Pines Golf Course. Park at the golf course and follow signs to the Monarch Grove Natural Area.

Sea Pines Golf Course

Close to the natural area, enjoy a nine-hole executive course, disc golf course, and footgolf course at Sea Pines Golf Resort. The Central Coast’s only hotel directly on a golf course, Sea Pines offers a driving range, practice area, and dining options. Views of coastal dunes and wildlife also make this course special.

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in Los Osos

Located on the Morro Bay estuary, this natural preserve has been managed by the Morro Coast Audubon Society since 1989. The 24-acre preserve acts as home to clusters of Monarch butterflies from late October to March. Follow trails through Monterey Cypress and eucalyptus trees and alongside freshwater ponds. In addition to Monarch butterflies, many shorebirds winter here. To get to the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve from Highway 1,take the South Bay Blvd. exit just east of Morro Bay. Continue on South Bay Boulevard to Santa Ysabel Avenue and turn right. Turn left at 7th Street and right onto Ramona Avenue. The site is located on the right (north) side of Ramona Avenue. A prominent sign shows the entrance to the trails.

Morro Bay Golf Course Monarch Butterfly Grove

At the center of Morro Bay Golf Course, a grove of eucalyptus trees offers its branches for migrating Monarch butterflies. In fact, this Monarch habitat has been known to receive butterflies early ― as early as August, some years. What’s more, the beautiful Monarchs tend to land low on the branches, making them extremely easy for viewers to see. To reach the Morro Bay Golf Course Butterfly Grove, from Highway 1, take exit 277 toward Los Osos/Baywood Park and turn right onto South Bay Boulevard. Turn right onto Park View Road/State Park Road and stay on Park View Dr. Follow signs to Morro Bay Golf Course.

Tour info

Morro Bay Golf Course provides tours of the natural Monarch butterfly grove throughout the winter, weather permitting. Witness thousands of Monarch butterflies up close after a short hike to the viewing area. For more information, contact the Morro Bay Golf Course. [post_title] => Monarch Butterflies on Highway 1 [post_excerpt] => From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in cities along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => monarch-butterflies-ni [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-02-14 13:33:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-02-14 21:33:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/monarch-butterflies-ni/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 110859 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2019-01-04 16:39:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-05 00:39:36 [post_content] =>

Photo © 2013 “Mike” Michael L. Baird, flickr.bairdphotos.com

As part of the Coastal Discovery Celebration, why not have a whale of a time whale watching along Highway 1? Nothing brings a sense of awe for nature’s wonders like seeing a whale spout or tail with your own eyes. And on the Highway 1 Discovery Route, whale watching is easier than ever with the Whale Trail

The Whale Trail provides a series of points on the Pacific Coast from which to see marine mammals. Each locale includes interpretive signs and information for whale watchers of all ages. Of the over 100 sites along the trail (and 26 in California), six lie on the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

San Simeon (San Simeon Bay Pier)

A picturesque beachside hamlet full of charm, Old San Simeon also makes for great whale watching. Walk along the 800-foot San Simeon Bay Pier to see a variety of marine birds and mammals. Don’t forget to check out binoculars and guides for viewing San Simeon Bay Wildlife at the Coastal Discovery Center nearby.

Cambria

Visit six-acre Shamel Park, adjacent to the Leffingwell Landing Trail and Moonstone Beach, to spot a number of species. California Gray Whales are most commonly seen migrating south December through February, and north in early spring through April. Other species to see include White-Sided Dolphins, sea lions, and sea otters.

Cayucos

The recently restored Cayucos Pier provides terrific viewing for marine wildlife. Find the Whale Trail site on the pier and learn about the species that can be seen from there. See gray whales traveling southward in December and January, and northward in March and April. From the Cayucos Pier, the best time for whale watching happens in March and April, as mothers and their babies hug closer to shore. You may even see a humpback whale, dolphin, or sea lion.

Los Osos-Baywood Park

One of the finest points for viewing wildlife in California, Montaña de Oro is home to sea otters, seals, dolphins, birds, and humpback whales that are visible all year. Watch for gray whales during migration, between December and April. And don’t miss the tidepools at Corralina Cove, where sea anemones and sea stars live.

Avila Beach

One of the Central Coast’s newer viewing sites, Avila Beach sees gray and humpback whales every year for feeding. Look for gray whales migrating past Avila Beach between December and April, while humpback whales can be found year-round. Dolphins, sea lions, and sea otters can also be seen at Harford Pier.

Oceano & Nipomo

Spanning one of California’s largest dune complexes, Oceano and Nipomo offer terrific viewing access to whale migration paths. Find the Whale Trail sign overlooking Pismo State Beach, just off West Grand Avenue. There, look for spouts from gray whales (which are shaped like a heart) and those from humpbacks (which are tall and column-shaped). Gray whales typically migrate between December and April, while humpbacks can be seen all year, in addition to dolphins and seabirds.

BONUS: Elephant Seals

No marine mammal viewing would be complete without a visit to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. And during the Coastal Discovery Celebration, visitors can take exploratory tours of the rookery, docent-led educational walks, or attend Life of the Northern Elephant Seal at the Coastal Discovery Center in San Simeon. Visit our Coastal Discovery Celebration page for more information on these and other special opportunities available during this time.

[post_title] => Where To See Whales (and More!) This Season [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => where-to-see-whales-and-more-this-season [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-07 13:04:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-07 21:04:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?p=110859 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 9 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 105298 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-06-26 07:00:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:05 [post_content] => The magic and mystery of the monarch migration has charmed and captivated people for years.  The eastern population is being severely impacted by deforestation in its Mexican overwintering grounds and the western monarchs are being squeezed by the constant pressures of coastal development and dwindling open space.  Both populations have experienced a decrease in numbers due to lack of milkweed necessary as a food source for the larval stage. Visit http://www.monarchdunesbutterflies.org/help.html to find out how you can help protect the monarchs and their migration.

Pismo Beach

From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Pismo State Beach, providing us with a breathtaking glimpse of nature in all her vibrant glory. This colony, easily accessible from Highway 1, is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 50,000 butterflies every year. Many of these fragile butterflies fly more than 1,000 miles, braving harsh weather conditions before coming to roost in the protected grove for the winter. During the season, the docent trailer opens every day at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Walks through the grove happen at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., weather permitting.

Monarch Dunes

The Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat was once part of a 957 acre Tasmanian blue gum eucalyptus plantation in Nipomo, California, and has supported as many as 60,000 overwintering monarch butterflies. From late October to February, thousands of black and orange Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Trilogy Monarch Dunes in Nipomo, providing us with a breathtaking glimpse of nature in all her vibrant glory. Many of these fragile butterflies fly more than 1,000 miles, braving harsh weather conditions before coming to roost in the protected grove for the winter. The grove is open year-round with an interpretive trail. The Butterfly Habitat is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to all. Please park in the paved parking lot at 1610 Kingston Drive, which is immediately adjacent to the butterfly sanctuary. A wheel chair/stroller accessible paved path provides a short easy walk into the main cluster area. Picnic tables and trash receptacles are available. A public horse trail encircles the nineteen acre habitat, with hitching posts provided near the picnic area. There are no restroom or drinking water facilities on site.

Los Osos / Baywood

The Sweet Springs overwintering site is located in Los Osos along the southwest edge of the Morro Bay estuary. A prominent sign shows the entrance to the trails from the north side of Ramona Avenue. The site is part of an Audubon Nature Preserve, featuring a vegetative restoration project and access trails to monarchs and other scenic areas within the preserve. [post_title] => Monarch Butterfly Migration [post_excerpt] => From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Pismo State Beach [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => monarch-butterfly-migration-pb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-26 07:00:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-26 15:00:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/events/monarch-butterfly-migration-pb/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => events [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 9 [max_num_pages] => 1 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => 1 [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 920438c3c68e05e4d007f0061316b756 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of a Eucalyptus grove at Pismo State Beach More Details
Plans are in place for a joyful celebration for Western Monarch Day at the Pismo Beach State Monarch Butterfly Grove. More Details
Live bands will entertain visitors until 9pm, when the fireworks start! More Details
The Central Coast boasts some of the best beaches in the U.S., and certainly on the West Coast. Visitors can find a spectrum of options, with ideal beaches for sunbathing, beachcombing, wildlife viewing, surfing, tidepooling, doggie fun or even dune-driving. More Details
Hiking along the Highway 1 Discovery Route showcases the diversity of this abundant place. From Ragged Point to Nipomo, each corner of coastal SLO CAL has its own distinctive flora, fauna, and history. More Details
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The site is part of an Audubon Nature Preserve, featuring a vegetative restoration project and access trails to monarchs and other scenic areas within the preserve. From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in cities along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. More Details
From late October to February, thousands of black and gold Monarch butterflies cluster in cities along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. More Details
Photo © 2013 “Mike” Michael L. Baird, flickr.bairdphotos.com As part of the Coastal Discovery Celebration, why not have a whale of a time whale watching along Highway 1? Nothing brings a sense of awe for nature’s wonders like seeing a whale spout or tail with your own eyes. And on the Highway 1 Discovery Route, […] More Details