Morro Bay & Morro Rock, California
US 101 and California Highway 1 return to the coast at Morro Bay, where two things dominate the view. There's Morro Rock...
... and a huge power plant, with three tall smokestacks. Both stand watch over the beautiful bay. Surprisingly, the longer you spend in town, the less out-of-place those smokestacks seem.
On your way to admire the town's big rock, you'll probably end up in the Embarcadero business district.
This is one of those small California towns that seems so perfect, you start to imagine leaving your life behind, and moving here. Stores and restaurants are lined up along the street, separating the road from the bay.
After you've admired the town's artsy side, and taken in the view of boats in the docks, continue driving through town. Eventually...
... the road curves around, and you end up at the foot of Morro Rock. As the sign says, you're not allowed to climb the rock. There are no trails leading to the top, and the climb is dangerous. So, it's a good thing you don't need to climb Morro Rock to get a good view.
Morro Rock is a volcanic plug, measuring 576 feet. It's the smallest in a chain of nine volcanic peaks, known as the Nine Sisters, that stretch from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo.8
The entrance to the bay is right next to the parking area, at the foot of Morro Rock, so you can watch boats arrive and depart, and enjoy the view of the town (and those smokestacks).
During my visit to Morro Bay in 2004, I didn't visit downtown Morro Bay. Instead, I stopped at the long beach on the north side of Morro Rock. You can access this beach by parking on the west side of Morro Rock (after the power plant, before the road ends), or you can exit CA Rte. 1 at Atascadero Road.
From Morro Bay, continue north on the Pacific Coast Highway, CA Rte. 1.
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