Self-Guided Nature Adventures

The following locations near to Morro Bay are great birding areas that you can enjoy on your own during your visit.  For locations, please consult the map.  Registrants will receive a map showing these locations with their registration.

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Los Osos

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Plan to visit the 32-acre Nature Preserve owned and maintained by Morro Coast Audubon Society with its boardwalk and viewing platform.  Observe freshwater ponds, wetlands, cypress and eucalyptus trees, and Back Bay viewing access.  Expect to see passerines and wintering shore and water birds in a tranquil setting.

Audubon Overlook, Baywood Park

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Morro Coast Audubon Society's overlook is a small roofed platform on the edge of the Bay at the end of Third Street in Baywood Park.  Plan to see plovers, egrets, ducks, sandpipers, willets, godwit, and hopefully the Virginia Rail and the Sora.

El Moro Elflin Forest Natural Area, Los Osos

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The beautiful Elfin Forest was preserved in its natural state through the efforts of the local chapter of the Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP).  This unique area at the edge of the Bay is home to many natural plant communities including threatened and endangered plant species.  Animal life abounds with at least 110 bird species, many of which can be spotted from the ADA-compliant board walk.  Follow signs to the 13th Street entrance off Santa Ynez Street in Los Osos

Los Osos Oaks State Reserve

This 90-acre unit of California State Parks, located along Los Osos Valley Road near Los Osos, protects a coast line oak woodland with gnarled, multi-trunked trees 20-25 feet high, some as much as 800 years old.  Other plant communities include coastal sage scrub and riparian woodlands.  Birds include various woodpecker species, hummingbirds, Western Flycatchers, California Thrashers, quail, towhees and raptors.  In 2005 Bird Festival observers spotted a Red-Naped Sapsucker.

Museum of Natural History At Morro Bay State Park

Situated on a bluff above the Bay, the remodeled and modernized Museum features dozens of interactive educational features appealing to all ages.  Video programs on local wildlife are shown in the auditorium, and dozens of bird mounts will be on display.  For information, visit the website or call (805) 772-2694, then dial O

Morro Bay & Montana De Oro State Parks

Both of these exquisite state parks offer numerous hiking trails and popular campgrounds.  At Morro Bay, enjoy walks around the marina, mudflats, and Black Hill, including the Bouchon Trail (see next).  At Montana de Oro, check out the interpretive exhibits at the Spooner Ranch House, the Holloway Demonstration Garden, and the tidepools.

Buchon Trail

The Buchon Trail winds through a recently acquired conservancy on PG&E land between the southern boundary of Montana de Oro and the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. This walk is spectacular more for its path overlooking the rugged coast than for its birds, unblemished for the most part by human intrusion, until you reach the power plant overlook. Love it or hate it, the power plant is worth seeing.

Morro Bay National Estuary Program

Open 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily

Located in Marina Square on the Embarcadero, the Morro Bay National Estuary Visitor Center offers an array of exhibits, including an 18-foot mural depicting habitats in and around the bay and other facets of our beautiful Estuary, as well as a spectacular view of the bay and Morro Rock.  Admission is free and a variety of local literature is available.  For more information, call (805) 772-3834.

Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center

Nature Center:  Open Daily from noon to 4pm  Oceano Lagoon:  Anytime

The exhibits highlight Oceano Dunes District’s natural and cultural resources as well as our diverse recreational activities.  Visitors will learn about Chumash culture, the famous Pismo clams, dune habitat, shorebirds, the history of off-highway vehicles and the Dunites.  The Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center is located at 555 Pier Avenue, Oceano 93445.  For more information please call 805-474-2664.


Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

Please call the education phone line at 805-474-2664 for the current hours of operation. 

Monarch butterflies overwinter in the eucalyptus grove off Highway 1 in Pismo Beach from November to mid-February.  State Parks Volunteers and Staff are available at the grove to offer educational presentations, scopes for easy viewing and a souvenir shop.  The Grove sees thousands of local, national, and international visitors each year.  Visit the Butterfly Grove to discover more about the monarch life cycle, their migration route, and learn about the threats the monarch population faces.

Elephant Seals, North Coast

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Docents from the Friends of the Elephant Seals will be available to share their knowledge of this very active birthing and breeding season.

Coastal Discovery Center

While enjoying the vistas of San Simeon Bay located at William R. Hearst Memorial Beach, enjoy the Coastal Discovery Center of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  The main interpretive themes and exhibits at this center emphasize connections between land and sea.  It is located about 30 miles north of Morro Bay and across from the entrance to Hearst Castle.  For information, call (805) 927-6575.

Guiton Trail at Oceano Lagoon

Enjoy a relaxing stroll around the lagoon through a beautiful riparian environment.  The lagoon offers sightings of black-crowned night-herons, kingfishers, red-winged blackbirds, herons, egrets, ducks and many others.  Lush vegetation in and around the lagoon provides both food and protection, making this an ideal habitat for wildlife and an excellent location for observing nature.  The Guiton Trail at Oceano Lagoon is located at 555 Pier Avenue, Oceano 93445.  For more information please call 805-474-2664. Please Note: The trail is closed on the west side, from the visitors center north and including the peninsula loop until January 31, 2022.