Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Descend into the sleepy seaside town of Morro Bay and two things will dominate the backdrop: three Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) smokestacks and Morro Rock.

Morro Rock is a California State Historic Landmark, the last of a series of volcanic plugs known as the Nine Sisters. Also known as a "neck," a volcanic plug is the magma that hardens in the chamber vent of an extinct volcano. The earthen portion of the volcano erodes away, leaving the rock plug. Morro Rock is said to have formed 23 million years ago. It's also known as a tied island. It stands about 576 feet high, making it an important visual guide for mariners. Entry to Morro Bay and estuary system is located on the other side of the rock.

Morro Rock was mined occasionally to provide breakwater barriers. In 1968, it was made a state landmark and has since become a bird sanctuary. Beyond the waves, to the right of Morro Rock, is a small rock tower officially titled "Pillar Rock." You can identify it by its bright white color. Locally, it's known as "Birdshit Rock," a name that reveals the source of that bright white color.

There is a large dirt parking lot on the portion of land that binds the rock to the mainland. You can access Morro Bay Beach by carefully climbing down the large boulders that protect the land from being eaten away by the waves. The beach is wide, sandy, and goes for miles. Morro Rock is a popular surf spot. The water is cold, and the beach is often foggy.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass



Easy access. Beach access. Ocean views.


Often foggy. Potentially rough ocean.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Sand Dunes
Historically significant
Vault toilet


Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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