A true gem, Morro Bay is a seaside fishing village with a bustling waterfront offering a picture perfect getaway for travelers seeking outdoor coastal adventures, great food, shopping and libations in a unique setting. The most visible landmark is the 576-foot Morro Rock sitting majestic between miles of unspoiled beaches to the north and the boat filled harbor to the south. Recently recognized as her home in Finding Dory, Morro Bay is recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists and outdoor recreation and activities are a way of life.
California’s central coast is world-renowned for its stunning beauty and iconic landscapes. Perhaps nowhere is this scenery more pronounced than at Morro Bay, a gateway to Big Sur. California’s Highway 1 is often characterized as one of the world’s most breathtaking drives. Heading north, the road makes a brief detour through the inland city of San Luis Obispo before again heading west to the sea. Suddenly the highway crests and Morro Rock, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, is at your fingertips. From the north, Morro Rock appears like a sentinel mirage in the distance. This dramatic setting has been captivating people’s attention for generations and once again serves as a fitting backdrop for the Amgen Tour of California.
Morro Rock is a natural wonder that has become the highlight of Morro Bay - named morro, or domed rock, by early Spanish explorers. These early travelers, however, could not have guessed that its origin came twenty-three to twenty-seven million years ago as a plug in the vent of an active volcano. In fact, such landforms formed a chain of “Nine Sisters” between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. Amazingly, this craggy dome-shaped hunk of dacite volcanic rock that once took shape in a dark world of fire and fury, is today a State Historic Landmark that towers 576 feet above the bay and is filled with life as a Peregrine Falcon preserve.
Morro Rock may be the most visually dominating figure on the landscape, but Morro Bay is the subdued sidekick with a more complex and deeper significance. While Morro Rock was (and still is) sacred to Native Americans, it was the verdant estuary that lured them here. Indeed, one quickly realizes that the dominant rock is perhaps but a glorious backdrop to the quiet and calming seaside town of Morro Bay. Its protected harbor and embarcadero have been the mainstay of a community built around fishing and the export of agricultural products from nearby farms. Underlying this commercial activity has been the diversity of the Morro Estuary and Morro Rock Natural Preserve, both of which are part of Morro Bay State Park. Here several habitats come together to attract migratory birds, fish breeding grounds, and charming wind-pruned oak trees. The area is dotted with wonderful hiking and mountain biking trails that exhibit its many sides. For a vastly different experience, visit the Skateboard Museum to learn about its history and vast cultural impacts.
For the 2019 edition, the Amgen Tour of California makes its third visit to Morro Bay in just the past four years. In 2016, Stage 4 started here on its way to Laguna Seca in Monterey County. The following year, the peloton finished Stage 3 in Morro Bay with Peter Sagan leading out a bunch sprint. In 2019, the finish in Morro Bay once again promises to be a day for the sprinters, providing fans with the exhilaration of a fast finish and monumental scenery unmatched along the Pacific Coast.