Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay offers trails through extinct volcanoes, marshes, and ridgelines that overlook the bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Morro Bay State Park
Morro Bay State Park is located midway between Los Angeles and the Bay Area on California’s central coast.

The park features lagoon and natural bay habitat. The bay’s most prominent landmark is Morro Rock. Naturalists at Large offers a tent camping experience with a variety of on and off site activity option. The park museum has exhibits that cover natural features and cultural history, Native American life, geology, and oceanography. On the bay’s northeast edge is a pristine saltwater marsh that supports a thriving bird population and is perfect for a group kayak within the bays protected waters.


Students discover the unique natural and human history of the area, develop group cooperation through a shared experience, enhance leadership abili­ties, and learn basic outdoor skills. The Natural­ists at Large program is designed to give the students a “sense of place.” This will be ac­complished by introducing them to the natural and cultural history of the area while they explore the various habitats. The program will emphasize a basic introduction to the diverse environments of the Central Coast. NAL will take respon­sibility for evening ac­tivities for the group. Evening ac­tiviti­es will include an all-class evening program, star walks, night hikes, campfires, and other programs developed with the school.

Natural History themes for your outdoor education experience can include the coastal chapar­ral community, north coast forest, fire ecology, the oak woodlands forest, shoreline geology, tidepools (very extensive along this shoreline), basic astronomy, and environmental influences on plant size and diver­sity during an examination of the pygmy forest. Emphasis will be tailored to complement the schools goals.

Sites of Interest:
  • El Morro Elfin Forest – dwarfed oak woodland in a coastal environment
  • Montana de Oro State Park – Located just south of Morro Bay, this extensive park has tidepools, wave cut marine terraces, sea otter, marine mammals, extensive coastal hiking, and great vistas.
  • Morro Dunes Natural Reserve – active sand spit.
  • Sweet Springs Nature Preserve has salt marshes and freshwater ponds that provide interesting contrasts.
  • Point Piedras Blancas – great marine mammal viewing – sea lions in season.
  • Pismo Dunes – largest coastal dunes in southern California.
  • San Simeon – Hearst Castle adjacent state beach with good tide pools.
  • Hiking at most of the above sites plus trails to the top of the numerous volcanic plugs in the San Luis Obispo area.