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Questions: Elephant seals and Montana de Oro

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Questions: Elephant seals and Montana de Oro

To all the posters, best wishes for the year ahead! A few questions:

- Elephant seals. Would we be able to see them in May? Where's the beach located (is there a landmark)? We've traveled along Hwy 1 from Monterey to Hearst Castle before but did not come across the beach. Don't want to miss this round.

- Montana De Oro. Is the Spooners Ranch within easy walking distance from the road? Are there short trails we can do within 1/2 hour? Would you recommend a stopover? (We're driving from Ventura to Morro Bay)

- Timing. Is this feasible/practical? We may do an evening tour of Hearst Castle and an introductory tour the next morning.

9:30am Solvang

12pm Montana De Oro

2:30pm Museum Morro Bay

Thanks in advance!

Santa Barbara...
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1. Re: Questions: Elephant seals and Montana de Oro

Solvang to Morro Bay is about 80 miles, which should take about 1.5+ hours of driving.

The Elephant Seals hang out near Piedras Blancas. It's just a few minutes north of Hearst Castle. If you start climbing above sea level, you've gone too far. Out in the water you might notice a very large rock, and off in the distance there is the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. There are two parking lots. The southern one has a boardwalk.

I'm not sure, but isn't Montana de Oro and Spooner's Ranch essentially the same place?


Sounds like you might be overnighting it in the Cambria/Morro Bay area. Your schedule seems do-able.

This next web site might not help you find the elephant seals, but it is a cool site for the coast. Click on the main picture. It will enlarge and you can see the seals on the beach.


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2. Re: Questions: Elephant seals and Montana de Oro

Here's a link with a calendar of seal activity and directions.


Petaluma, California
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3. Re: Questions: Elephant seals and Montana de Oro

Hi CynTeow,

May is the worst month for Elephant Seal viewing. They will all be gone unless a couple of males are there to molt. The previous writer was correct. Go to www.elephantseal.org and you can see a calendar of the elephant seals - when they arrive, when they give birth and when they mate, molt and leave. May is just not a good month to see them, so take this off your calendar.

Secondly, someone said incorrectly that Montana de Oro and Spooner Ranch House is the same place as Elephant Seals. This is not true. Montana de Oro is south of Morro Bay. Spooner Ranch House is easy - there is a parking lot right in front - right before you drive into the Md'O campground. And yes, you can do a perfect trail for an hour or less - it is the bluff trail. As you park at Spooner Ranch House - go in and ask for directions. If no one is there for some reason, just turn around and face the ocean. There is a spectacular shale beach in front of you. You can go explore it for a while first.

On the left of the beach there is an easy trail on a cliff out to a bluff. You can easily see it and see others walking along it. At the very end of the path - as far out as you can go - you have to look carefully - there are stairs down to the tidepools. It's my favorite secret.

This walk is terrific. One of the best. But there are 8,000 acres in Montana de Oro. And many, many trails. The one I describe by the Ranch House and the beach is the best for the time you have.

You simply will not be sorry if you stop to do Montana de Oro. It is breathtaking. Also, be sure to visit the Spooner Ranch House as they have a great Living History Program on Saturdays and wonderful exhibits.

Discussing your plan - if you leave Solvang at 9:30 you can easily get to Montana de Oro by 11:30. Be sure to have a map and know how to get there. You can walk for a hour or so. Then come back to Morro Bay, dine at the Bayside Cafe in the Marina just below the Museum of Natural History. Then see the Museum for an hour. Note it's spectacular view! Then you have plenty of time to get to Hearst for an evening tour! No problem. Very well done!

Happy New Year. Let me know if you need anything else!

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