Join us for a field trip to photograph the Northern Elephant Seals and Monarch Butterflies on January 18 and 19, 2012.
David and I plan to drive to stay in Morro Bay Wednesday and Thursday night, the 18th and 19th. We like the back roads trip from Lancaster to Morro Bay that travels Highway 5 to Highway 166 and proceeds along 166 to the coast. There is a park with restroom and picnic area in New Cuyama, which is about halfway.
The biggest contingent of seals is at Piedras Blancas State Beach which is 7 miles north of San Simeon, about 45 minutes north of Morro Bay. Sunset is at 5pm on the 18th. I plan to arrive at Piedras Blancas between 3:30pm and 4pm. Visitors to the beach are required to stay on the boardwalk. Male seals, which are assembling their harems in January can be 4500 pounds and are testy to intruders so staying on the boardwalk is wise.
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Sunrise on the 19th is 7am but the beach is shadowed by hills. David and I will probably get there about 9 to photograph the seals. School districts also take field trips to the area and can overrun the place by 10:30.
From the beach we will proceed to Pismo Beach State Park which is south of Morro Bay, perhaps stopping at campsite #116 in Morro Bay State Park which is reputed to have a butterfly population. In the evening we will travel back to Piedras Blancas to try our luck photographing the seals again.
There is an alternate route back to the Antelope Valley which takes one through the Sespe National Wilderness where the California Condors live and can sometimes can be seen catching an air current. It is not a bad road but winds around quite a bit. State Highway 95 also called Cerro Noroeste Road leaves Highway 166 just before the turnoff to Soda Lake Road, passes Pine Mountain Club and ends in Frazier Park where one can find Highway 5.