Cerro Alto Campground is a well-known hiking and mountain biking paradise. It is located a short distance from the sandy beaches of Morro Bay, where visitors enjoy surfing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and more. While the campground offers a serene, relaxed environment, both Morro Bay and the nearby town of Atascadero offer numerous dining opportunities, shopping, museums and other activities. Wine Tasting in the Tempelton, Paso Robles Area is also a very popular experience.
Visitors enjoy ample hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding opportunities, along with a 360-degree view of the Central California coast and inland valleys. The 4-mile Cerro Alto Trail, which leads to the peak, begins within the campground.
Morro Bay beaches are less than 10 miles from the campground, offering wide sandy stretches and swimming, surfing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and more. An 18-hole championship golf course is located in the oceanside town.
The campground offers single-family sites for tent or RV camping. Each site is equipped with a table and campfire ring and grill. Accessible vault toilets and drinking water are provided, but no hookups are available. Trash collection bins are scattered throughout the campground.
The campground is situated in a mixed oak, pine and sycamore forest at an elevation of about 1,000 feet. It lies in a verdant canyon pass along a semiannual mountain creek. The roads are paved, but narrow, winding and single lane with turnouts to each site.
Paso Robles, which is quickly becoming known as a premier spot for Central Coast wines, is located 20 miles from the campground. Wine tasting tours are offered daily, or visitors can select individualized tours of numerous wineries located in the area.
The campground makes a great base camp for motorcyclists or day-trippers to visit the quaint, neighboring towns of San Luis Obispo, Cayucos, Harmony and Cambria, all of which are within 35 miles of the campground.
Tours of historic Hearst Castle are also available. Visitors can spend time relaxing at the many available day spas located at nearby Avila or Grover beaches. Off-road vehicle trails are available on famous Pismo Beach.
ADA Access: N
We got here on a Friday around 11am for a walk in site and the campground was packed. Luckily the campground hosts were very nice and had placed us in the overflow campsites. Which was just a small open area with another group already set up there. The next day they gave us a walk in campsite so we could have a campfire. However it was next to the restroom and the wind brought the smell to our site. The host did keep the toilets clean though. Lots of mosquitos around as well.
We were running late and it was first come first serve so we were nervous getting but when we did they were hardly anyone there so we got a lot of space to ourself, the campground aren’t to smush together. If you can get one where there’s no one it’s amazing. It’s like 45 min away from morrow bay, downtown slo so you can grab some stuff back and downtown slo is just awesome every cool. Bring a lot of Deet spray cause that place was crazy in bugs and day and all night .they had good trails and a lot of nice green forest when we went around June. Would come back again !
First time at Cerro Alto and the site was better than we could have hoped for, especially being a “primitive” campground . We had read reviews about the vault toilets onsite, so we mentally prepared ourselves before going. But in actuality, it is not as bad if everyone just put down the toilet seat covers after use. Our site (#18) was awesome! It was spacious enough for our 10-person tent and more. It even had a water faucet for easy cleaning. We were impressed that the bbq grill was exceptionally clean upon arrival and no trash were left behind from previous campers. We can tell that the campground hosts really took time to care for the sites. Just be aware of poison oak and ticks. If based on the campground alone, we would have given it 5-stars. Unfortunately, the quality of our experience was diminished by our inconsiderate neighbors in site#19. Not only did they partied each night until midnight, they spoke loudly on topics that were highly inappropriate for our young boys. Other than our rowdy neighbors, we loved the site and will definitely return.
When we stayed here they were on fire watch, so obviously that was not a possibility. The sites are well maintained and basic services are available. Get a site with shade and you’re good to go, very close to Morro Bay as well.
[ PROS ]
- Plenty of walk-in sites available. Easy to reserve online! $25/night (this is cheap for the area!)
- One of the few campsites near Morro Bay that ever have availability for last minute campers
- Close to avocado groves! We went to Morro Creek Ranch (about 3.5 miles from campground) to pick up fresh avocados to make breakfast with
- Easy drive to Morro Bay Rock where you can see otters, sea lions, and lots of marine life. Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary so you can always see Great Blue Herons, White Herons, Ospreys, Pelicans, Cormorants, Turkey Vultures, and more!
- Beautiful primitive campground with lots of lush greenery all around and lots of wildlife. Most of the sites have plenty of shade from the canopies of trees. There are so many different birds here as well. We fell asleep to the sound of a resident Pygmy Owl hooting and woke up to Acorn Woodpeckers, Toweys, Robins, Steller Jays, and Warblers singing.
- Cerro Alto Trail is located right inside the campground. Day Use parking is $10. The hike is really beautiful and on a clear day you can see the ocean at peak!
- Campsites are spread pretty far apart, are fairly large, and have most have pretty good privacy. I think Campsite #18 is one of the best! It’s HUGE, tucked in the far corner, close to the hiking trail, fairly close to toilets, and has its own water spigot. If you have a large group, I would suggest booking Sites #18 & 19. They are side by side and would be perfect for accommodating a larger party.
- Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and 1 parking spot. Additional cars need to park in the day use area.
- Very popular campground and it feels very safe. People are very respectful of quite hours and other campground rules. There is a camp host on site who is present and you can buy firewood from.
[ CONS ]
- No showers and only pit (long drop) toilets. They provide toilet paper, but it is superrrrr thin. Bring your own.
- The actual campground is pretty deep-in from the main road, but it’s a very narrow and winding one car lane that goes for about a mile. Drive slow!
- Not close to any gas station or store so come prepared.
- There is poison oak EVERYWHERE so do not go wandering off into the brush.
- TICKS TICKS TICKS. Make sure you read the warnings and stay on the trails. We actually saw ticks during our hike
- Lots of hikers come in and out of the campgrounds to access the Cerro Alto trailhead. Although it felt very safe, just make sure you pack away valuables when you leave your site. The hiking trail is very popular so there is a lot of activity and strangers walking around and exploring.
- We heard a lot of people complaining about the smell of the toilets, but we didn’t experience that problem from our campsite. After a while, we started noticing a smell and realized it was the fragrance coming off the flowering Eucalyptus trees -- they have a funny smell that can smell like urine.
Note: No reception at campgrounds (0 bars with AT&T)
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This weekend I had the opportunity to test out RovR RollR 60-quart cooler on a camping trip to Cerro Alto. I recently just purchased a Yeti Cooler which I am in love with so I was skeptical about the RovR. It has a lot of really cool features that I felt were just extraneous when I was shopping around, but now I’m a total believer. I can actually say that I prefer the RovR cooler over my Yeti cooler now!
- As far as cooling, it does just as good a job as other equivalent coolers. It’s very sturdy and the walls of the cooler are thick and insulates like a boss.
- Transporting this cooler is CAKE! The tires are amazing. We tested it on different terrains and were very impressed with how easy the cooler was to maneuver. Even when we rolled it on very loose dirt trails that sinks a little, it performed beyond our expectations. The wheels are large enough to roll over bumpy roads and rocks, they turn well, and are extremely sturdy.
- The handle on the cooler is the perfect length and folds flush to the side of the cooler and out of the way. My husband typically find wagons, cooler, and luggage handles a little on the short side which make it awkward for him to pull, but he was very pleased with the height of the handle.
- The dry bin is soooo clutch! It’s very deep and you can fit a wine bottle standing up. You can even uncork the bottle and stick it back in the dry box without worry about wine spilling. We used it to keep things dry and it worked like a charm. We had small tupperware in there that we never had to worry about water seeping into. It also makes organization really nice. I don’t know how I survived this long without this feature in a cooler!
- I love the wagon bin!! The way it straps to the top of the cooler is extremely secure. That box is staying put and not going anywhere! It’s also very sturdy and thick. It’s so nice to have extra storage to store items when you’re towing the storage. It really frees up your hands and overall, it’s just a freakin’ nice bin to have when camping. We used it for stashing away our tent bags, blanket stuff sacks, and other miscellaneous items. It folds away really nice and attaches back to the top of the cooler which makes storing it really nice.
- We purchased the prep board (table/cutting board) attachment and we are so happy we did. It works great as an extra table so you can still open and close your cooler. It has a really smooth surface that’s easy to clean after using as a cutting board. It attaches really easily and can be removed really easily.
- We also purchased the bike kit to attach the cooler to our bike. We live close to the beach and bringing a cooler is always something we’ve been restricted on when we bike, but now our day trips to the beach just got A WHOLE LOT BETTER!
- We also registered our cooler and got a free stash bag that attaches to the cooler. We’re so excited to use it on our next trip. It’s perfect for storing lighters, beer openers, multi-tools, headlamps, and other small gear items in.
There are SOOO many different attachments you can add to the cooler to make it more functional. You can’t do this with any other cooler on the market which really sets it apart from everyone else. My husband and I just placed an order for the Umbrella/Rod Holder which will come in handy for the beach and future camping trips. We cannot say enough good things about the Rovr cooler.
I love the hike here and really wanted to like the campground too but our stay was a bit sketchy! There are some more private sites as you drive into the campground but we were in the cul-de-sac area near the trailhead. We had some trouble with a lady who was clearly spending the night in her van and kept yelling at us that we were parked in her space. The camp host came over in the morning and confirmed that we were parked right where we were supposed to park. There was also a couple there that were pretty clearly on drugs and they came in and out of our campsite at times. The scenery itself is beautiful, and the Cerro Alto hike is amazing, but we had some questionable people and little to no help from the camp hosts.
Shady tree-lined campground with a few trailheads that I passed. It was cool morning in May & had condensation form on our tent in the early morning hours. The bathrooms were well stocked and clean. It was small and the campsites had enough elbow room in between them. Will definitely make it a point to come back! We were able to walk-in & pay for the site after it got dark, just make sure that you read for the handwritten dates for when the signs say it is reserved(we passed all the sites because all you read is reserved as you drive by them).