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Where To Stay
Accessing Point Sal State Beach is permitted via Brown Road and an approximately 9 mile round trip hike. Please check on access restrictions from Vandenberg Air Force Base here.
Off Highway Vehicles and the access points near Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.
Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce for visitor information on the Santa Maria Valley and California's Central Coast.
Central Coast Natural History Association for more information on the Central Coast and the Morro Bay Area.
With general information and directions to the local dune access points and other points of interest, our Visitor Center is a must see for anyone interested in traveling through the Central Coast and the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. We also have a variety of educational opportunities in the Center with different animal specimens, interactive activities, as well as a collection of short films about the local area.
We are handicap accessible and have a gift shop and restroom. Please add the Dunes Center to your Central Coast itinerary.
In general, the natural areas are open from sunrise to sunset.
Visiting the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes:
A National Natural Landmark
There are a variety of places to access this beautiful natural resource between Pismo Beach and Point Sal. Near Guadalupe, there are two main access points open regularly for public recreation.
They are: Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area, a nature preserve within the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, and Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve, a Santa Barbara County Park.
Oso Flaco Lake features a beautiful bridge over a rare coastal freshwater lake that is home to many different species of animals. This is a great place to go birding and you can see anything from ruddy ducks to belted kingfishers in this pristine environment. This park is a treasure and a can’t miss on your visit to the dunes. The bridge leads you to a boardwalk that provides a stable safe way to walk through the dunes all the way to the beach. This trail is about 1-mile from the parking lot to the beach, or 2-miles roundtrip. Great for families with kids or people with limited mobility, this trail is handicap accessible and provides a great reward at the end with a raised viewing platform that has views from Avila Beach in the north to Mussel Rock in the south.
AKA Main Street Beach
Here you will find the tallest dunes on the west coast, reaching 550 feet tall; to see these high dunes you can visit Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. This Santa Barbara County Park is one of the most convenient access points. It is located at the west end of Highway 166. The parking area is right on the beach. The western snowy plover breeding season closes the dunes from March to October; the beach remains open all year and this is the main access point to walk south along the beach to Mussel Point. The Santa Maria River also flows to the ocean at this location which makes for a unique opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife.
To get to Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve, go west on Highway 166 from Guadalupe, CA until the road ends at the parking area. Entry fee is by donation. Dogs are not allowed at this location.