Visit San Luis Obispo County - From Dunes to the Nacimiento River
Continuing north from Santa Barbara, Anza and his colonists passed dunes near Pismo beach, and continued along the coast for several miles before turning inland at Price Canyon, finally reaching the Mission San Luis Obispo. While there, an Indian boy was baptized, with Anza serving as his godfather. Upon leaving, they followed San Luis Creek to the top of the Cuesta Grade, descended to the Salinas River and crossed it.Download map
Driving Directions for Auto Route
Scenic Route: From Hwy 101, take Hwy 58 east through the town of Santa Margarita and turn north on El Camino Real. In Atascadero, take Viejo Camino east and then Halcyon Rd. to the Salinas River. Return to El Camino Real in Atascadero. Oaks in which woodpeckers have stored their acorns are a significant natural feature in the area, as noted by Father Font. Some of the largest of these trees can still be seen near 6905 El Camino Real in Atascadero. Continuing on the El Camino, turn east on Curbaril Ave. and follow it toward the Salinas River. Turn right on Gabarda Rd., then left on Tampico Rd. which ends at the Wranglerette Arena. From the Wranglerette Arena, return to Curbaril Ave., and before the bridge over the Salinas River, turn left onto Sycamore Rd. (Hwy 41) and follow it northwest along the river. Passing under the railroad tracks, turn right on Ensenada Ave., then right on Via Ave., and right again onto Traffic Way; follow it northwest along the river and railroad tracks. Walk around the site of Camp #83 in the vicinity of Ferrocarril Rd. along the Atascadero trail. Continue along Traffic Way, turning left onto Carrizo Rd., turn right on El Camino Real, and then enter highway 101 north. Take the Vineyard Dr. exit east across the Salinas River, turn left on El Pomar Dr., left on Neal Springs Rd., and left again onto South River Road. Follow River Rd. north to highway 46, turning left on County Road G14 to rejoin the marked auto route in Paso Robles (see Driving Directions).
In Guadalupe, stop at the Dunes Center to get directions to Oso Flaco Lake in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, and explore the ecology of the dunes. The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area provides swimming, surfing, surf fishing, camping, and hiking. The Atascadero Trail (6805 Sycamore Rd.) offers a 4 mile hike. Further north, about 8 miles of trail are marked at Camp Roberts.
Points of Interest
- Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa - Camp #82
Founded in September of 1772, the mission greeted the expedition on March 2 with bells, volleys and the singing of the Te Deum. The colonists rested here a day and Font baptized a native boy, with Anza serving as Godfather. Belonging to the Diocese of Monterey, the mission today serves as a parish church. The Mission is located at Monterey and Chorro Streets (35º 16' 54" N, 120º 39' 39" W).
- Pismo Beach - Expedition Camp #81
On the coast to the north, but part of the same sand dunes, is Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The city names Nipomo and Pismo are Chumash words. The site of the Chumash village of El Buchón is located in Price Canyon, and it was at this village that camp was made on March 1. Nearby, the Price House grounds preserve several buildings of John Michael Price's Rancho Pismo in Price Canyon. It is located at 100 Rancho Pismo Drive in Pismo Beach and is on the walking trail at the end of Frady Lane.
- Santa Margarita River - Expedition Camp #83
Font mentions a village at Santa Margarita River. Going further along the Anza trail, the Atascadero Trail (via the Scenic Route) is a hike on level ground. Camp #83 was at Asunción (now called Assumption) located along the Salinas River near Ferrocarril Rd. in Atascadero. On March 5, the Anza party crossed the Nacimiento River near Camp Roberts, and Camp #84 was made at their first crossing of the San Antonio River, and so was called Primer Vado (First Ford).
- Cuesta Canyon County Park
This five acre park in San Luis Obispo (35º 17' 36" N, 120º 38' 22" W) spans San Luis Creek, the route of the expedition. The Stagecoach Road trail west of Cuesta Grade is a rural, single lane road that climbs Cuesta Grade just north of the city limits of San Luis Obispo, and is quite probably the route of the expedition along San Luis Creek. It is currently the bicycle route over the grade as bicycles are not permitted on Highway 101.
- Dunes Center
- Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge
The sand dunes near a long lake are mentioned in the diaries of Anza and Font for their March 1, 1776 entries. The lake, southeast of Guadalupe, was called Laguna Larga by Anza and Laguna Grande by Font. During the 1769-1770 expedition, Gaspar de Portolá named Oso Flaco Lake for the "lean bear" killed there. The area still contains pristine wind-swept coastal dunes, wetlands, and rare plants. Visitors may hike the dunes from either the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes County Park to the south, or the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area to the north. Access to the preserve is off State Highway 1 west of the town of Guadalupe, and more information is available at the Dunes Center at 1055 Guadalupe Street.
- Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
- Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area
- Pismo State Beach
- Price House
Nearby, the Price House grounds preserve several buildings of John Michael Price's Rancho Pismo in Price Canyon. It is located at 100 Rancho Pismo Drive in Pismo Beach and is on the walking trail at the end of Frady Lane.
- Rancho Guadalupe Dunes County Park
- Atascadero City Hall, Parks & Recreation Dept. - tel.: 805-461-5000
6500 Palma Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422
- Cuesta Canyon County Park, San Luis Obispo County Parks - tel.: 805-781-5930
1087 Santa Rosa St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
- Friends of Price House
P. O. Box 1418, Pismo Beach, CA 93448-1418
- Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, The Dunes Center - tel.: 805-343-9151
1055 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe, CA 93434
- Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa - tel.: 805-781-8220
751 Palm Street, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401
- Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, Formerly Pismo Dunes SVRA - tel.: 805-473-7223
576 Camino Mercado, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
- Price Historical Park
100 Rancho Pismo Drive