In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of Montana de Oro State Park and campgrounds on the central California coast. Here, your camping experience will include stunning views...and a location that feels "miles from nowhere" (but with all the conveniences of town just a few miles away.)
Montana de Oro SP Camping Overview
Which do you prefer: Ocean camping? Mountain camping?
If you choose Montana de Oro State Park in central California, you don't have to make a decision. You get both!
Play on the beach, or hunt for tide pools. Then change up your scenery with a mountainside hike. Then, if you like, head back to the beach to enjoy the contents of your picnic basket on one of the park's benches.
What's next--kicking back at your campsite? Or maybe trying out one of the park's mountain bike trails? The pace is leisurely and laid-back in this beautiful and tranquil setting by the sea.
Montana de Oro State Park's campground amenities
Montana de Oro State Park offers a variety of camping experiences, including horse camping, walk-in "environmental" camping, and a standard campground for tents, RV's and other types of camping vehicles. The standard campground is what we'll be describing on this page.
You'll feel quite familiar with the campground at Montana de Oro if you've done any camping in the California state parks. You'll find the layout similar to many other campgrounds, including:
Paved interior roadways
Paved parking apron
Tents, Pop-up campers, pickup truck campers, trailers and RV's up to 27 feet in length are welcome in the campground. Unfortunately, longer trailers and motor homes cannot be accommodated.
Although this state park has beach areas, the campground itself isn't down on the beach...but up on a bluff, instead. The beach is just a short walk (or drive, if you prefer) down the hill from the camping area.
Many of the campsites aren't shaded, and yet the open meadows are quite nice at Montana de Oro.
This particular campground doesn't take reservations for particular camping spaces; you'll receive your site assignment when you arrive.
Some amenities that are missing
Montana de Oro doesn't have flush toilets, bathroom sinks nor showers. That fact makes it a bit difficult for families with kids who come back gritty and salty from a day at the nearby beach. That doesn't mean families don't enjoy camping at Montana de Oro...but it DOES mean that you'll have to come prepared.
Be sure to bring water for drinking, as well, plus plenty of meals, snacks and drinks. There is no camp store on-site, which will mean a trek into town 5+ miles away if you need supplies. That's not a bad distance when something unexpected arises...but it would be really inconvenient if you needed to make several trips in a day.
Montana de Oro's other features you may enjoy
Beach at Spooner's Cove: Most people enjoy spending some time at the very scenic Spooner's Cove...which is handily close to the park's camping area. The water here is generally chilly, but that doesn't stop waders from enjoying the water and playing tag with the tides.
Montana de Oro is also famous for its tide pools where fascinated visitors avidly watch the sea creatures left "on display" by Mother Nature.
But mountain activities may also be enjoyed at the park, which actually contains more mountainous terrain than it does shore. You can enjoy hikes up into the pleasant hills...or even do some mountain biking here.
On fall, winter and spring weekdays, visitor turn-out is light, and you may feel a splendid sense of isolation and peace at Montana de Oro. The park's year-round mild climate makes it fine for camping year-round (although you'll want to bundle up at night; the temperatures drop sharply after dark.)
The most popular season for Montana de Oro camping is summer, when reservations are advised...especially for weekends and holidays. Although Montana de Oro's campsites fill up more slowly than Pismo Beach SP or Morro Bay SP, there are indeed nights when the campground is completely "sold out."
In the Google Custom Map above, you can see where several features of the park are located, including Spooner's Cove, the main campground, and the equestrian camping areas. Some people have complained that the campground is hard to find. If you remember that you need to look up the hill from Spooner's Cove, then you won't have any difficulty finding it at all.
Reservations for the Montana de Oro campgrounds: Like other California state parks, Montana de Oro uses the Reserve America website. You can make your reservations straight from the site once you've decided the dates of your camping trip. Meanwhile, you can get plenty of helpful information about the campground. You'll be able to see a detailed, interactive map on their website to get an idea of the layout. However, as mentioned above, you can't reserve a specific camping space in advance. Here's the Montana de Oro State Park section of the ReserveAmerica.com website.
Camping prices at Montana de Oro State Park: Camping prices for the RV & tent campground are $25 per night, as of Spring, 2013. This low camping fee reflects the fact that there are no hookups, no flush toilets, and no running water. In fact, the website calls the camping spaces "primitive," but that's not really true. Most campgrounds would call these "developed" camping spaces. But, you need to know that they're called "primitive" in order to reserve the correct type of camping space. (If you're interested in reserving the walk-in spaces where there are no amenities at all, then you'll want to reserve the "environmental" campsites...which are sometimes called "primitive" campsites at other parks.)
Off-season reservations: Reservations are only accepted for horse camping during the "off season"...which is from mid-September to mid-May each year. The "regular" tent/RV campground runs on a first-come, first-served basis during that time.
Montana de Oro website: If you'd like further information on the park & the activities it has to offer you, here's a link to the Montana de Oro SP section of the California State Parks website.
Montana de Oro phone number: You may call (805) 528-0513 for questions you might have that aren't covered by the park's website.