An entirely different coastline greets the traveler who leaves the rugged Big Sur landscape and enters San Luis Obispo County—but it is no less beautiful. High, precipitous cliffs give way to rolling green hills, and the beaches become more accessible. The area is more densely settled and towns are larger, but there is still ample space to enjoy the surf and the hills beyond the beaches. High above San Simeon, overlooking California Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean, stands the opulent mansion built by newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. Now a state historical monument, the buildings and grounds attract more than a million visitors a year who come to admire the art, architecture, and gardens of “Hearst Castle.” Farther south along the coast, famed Morro Rock looms over the picturesque town of Morro Bay. From Pismo Beach, Nipomo Dunes Preserve stretches south more than 20 miles, well into Santa Barbara County. It is the largest expanse of coastal dunes remaining in the state. Inland, the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest and the alkaline flats of the Carrizo Plain offer a stark contrast in landscape. Missions such as San Miguel and San Luis Obispo are reminders of the area’s Spanish heritage. A dozen of the more than 30 wineries located in San Luis Obispo County lie within a 12-mile radius of the town of Paso Robles. Many offer picnic sites, wine tasting, and retail sales. Campgrounds included in this eTrail are: San Simeon Creek, Washburn, Morro Strand State Beach, Morro Bay State Park, Cerro Alto, El Chorro Regional Park, Montana de Oro State Park, Navajo, Friis, La Panza, American Canyon, Hi Mountain, Stony Creek, Buck Spring, Baja, Santa Margarita Lake, North Beach, Oceano, Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area, Oceano Memorial Park, Lopez Lake Recreational Area, and Carrizo Plain / Soda Lake.
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