Estero Bluffs

Estero Bluffs State Park, a 355 acre park along Highway 1 – the San Luis Obispo North Coast Scenic Byway, Estero Bay portion, was designated a California State Park named Estero Bluffs the summer of 2007. Featuring inter-tidal areas, wetlands, low bluffs, coastal terraces, perennial and intermittent streams, and a pocket cove with beach at Villa Creek, the Estero Bluffs State Park is home to various species of fowl, animals, sea mammals and plant life.

Brown Pelicans, Peregrine Falcons, Black and Ruddy Turnstones, Red-Breasted Mergansers, Brandt Geese, and Thayer’s Gulls are found here. Bird watchers and artists who record their sightings with photography, painting and drawing always spot numerous species of birds. The Pacific Flyway bird migration route for seasonal migration to the Estero Bay Estuary goes through the park. Many whom wish to see the endangered Western Snowy Plover visit the park,

Rich in history, the park is the home of 14 former prehistoric archaeology sites (all shell middens). Other features include a wind mill, a building from an old ranch and the remains of a building from the Chinese seaweed farming era. Former occupancy of the land by the Salinan and Chumash native Indian tribes adds to historical interest.

From December through March, Estero Bluffs is a designated whale watching site. California’s state marine mammal, the Gray Whale, migrates from Alaska moving south along the coast to Baja, California to their breeding and birthing waters. Thousands of gray whale up to 50′ long and 45 tons each, travel in small groups and stay close to shore for protection from predators. The whale’s spouts of vaporized water spouting up to 12′ high can be seen as whales surface about every 3 to 5 minutes. The whales reverse the migration after their calves are birthed and lead their calves back to Alaska completing a 12000 mile round trip. Viewing these magnificent mammals from this park is an amazingly spectacular site..

Other seal mammals call Estero Bluffs home year around. The Southern Sea Otter, harbor seals, northern elephant seal and California sea lions are residents here. Guides are not required for hiking the open trails. When hiking the many trails along the coast and through the bluffs and marshlands, don’t just look to the water for sites to see. Animal and plant life on land offers much to discover.

Coyote, raccoon, badgers, striped skunk, mule deer and brush rabbits are a few of the animals who habitat this area. Squirrel, gophers, mice, opossum and vole are also around. And don’t forget to watch for the amphibeans and reptiles of the area – the California king snake and rattlesnake both lurk in the area with the California alligator lizard, the Pacific tree frog and Southwestern pond turtle. This park features an abundant variety of plant life for all its inhabitants. The Indian paintbrush, San Luis Obispo morning glory and California poppies mixed with all varieties of grass in wetlands and marshlands creates a beautiful landscape for artists and photographer as well as for the botanist.

If you aren’t a wildlife enthusiast., but want to get out to a park and have some fun, then Estero Bluffs is still the park to visit. Popular for hiking and bird watching, it is also popular for surfing and kayaking. With the pocket cove and beach at Villa Creek, Estero Bluffs State Park offers swimming, scuba diving, fishing, tide pooling, sunning, picnicking, hang-gliding and kite-flying.

Dogs on leashes and bicycles are allowed on the informal trails south of San Geronimo Creek by California State Park law. If designation would change from state park to state reserve, bicycles and dogs would no longer be allowed.

To reach Estero Bluffs State Park from Cayucos, take Highway 1 North for about two miles to an oceanside turnout North of San Geronimo Road. There are several turnouts along the road with trail access. There are no fees for access. Trails are free but local personal trail guides are available to reserve for the day at various fees. Rated #2 for Best Central Coast Hikes by Fresnobee.com For daily conditions and more information contact California parks office at 1-800-777-0369 or www.parks.ca.gov For information on whale watching at Estero Bluffs contact 1-805-772-7434