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Pismo State Beach

Pismo State Beach encompasses seven miles of beachfront, extending south from the town of Pismo Beach through Grover Beach and Oceano to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Among its attractions are a promenade, campgrounds, trails, and a nature center. From late October to February, one of the largest colonies of monarch butterflies in California cluster in a eucalyptus grove just off Highway 1 near the North Beach Campground. Docents are on site daily from November through February, 10 am-4 pm, and give talks about the butterflies at 11 am and 2 pm.

Oceano Lagoon, a freshwater lagoon adjacent to Oceano Campground, has a nature center and a short trail that is good for watching birds. From Grover Beach, a mile-long boardwalk travels through the dunes to North Beach Campground.

Visitor center: This small nature center in Oceano Campground has many animal specimens, videos, and displays on Chumash culture, native plants, and butterflies.

Trail/Pathway Details

Guiton Trail

Trailhead: The most accessible trail entrance is near space #20 in the RV section of Oceano Campground. To reach the trail from the visitor center you must travel across grass, but I did this easily in my motorized wheelchair.

Length: Under one mile total

Typical Width: 30 in. to 4 ft.

Typical Grade: Gentle

Terrain: Firm

Just past the viewing platform the edges of the trail are sandy, so stay on the designated trail.


Traveling north from the nature center, this loop trail circling Oceano Lagoon is accessible for less than half a mile. It's a good spot to look for birds and other wildlife; among the creatures I saw were red-winged blackbirds, cliff and barn swallows, ducks, and turtles. If you're lucky, you might spot the resident beaver. At the visitor center you can get a brochure that describes the surrounding environment. Arroyo willow is the predominant tree.

A few hundred yards past the most accessible entrance to the trail is a path that leads to a native plant garden. It’s hilly, but I had no problem in my motorized wheelchair. There's a lovely spot with benches for resting. Back on the trail, travel a few hundred feet farther to a viewing deck and fishing platform at water’s edge. From here the trail travels away from the water through willows and grasses another few hundred yards, then becomes too narrow and sandy for wheelchairs to navigate.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Available at Grand Avenue and Pier Avenue beach entrance stations, or contact Oceano Dunes Ranger Station, (805) 473-7220

Accessible Parking: Yes

At foot of Pier, Grand, and Pomeroy avenues, and at visitor center at Oceano Lagoon. Roadside dirt lot off Highway 1 at butterfly grove has no designated accessible parking.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

At pier and Oceano Campground; another is in Pismo Beach, in parking lot at foot of Addie Street. 

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

At pier and butterfly grove

Other Things of Interest

The accessible pier, adjacent to the beach, is lit at night and has picnic tables on decks that extend from its sides. Fishing is allowed, but 48-inch railings may impede access from a wheelchair. Shops and restaurants line the nearby streets, and in summer the pier can be quite crowded.  
Rest stop on Guiton Trail
Rest stop on Guiton Trail (Bonnie Lewkowicz )

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: California State Parks
Address: 555 Pier Ave., Oceano
Nearest City: Oceano
Phone: (805) 473-7220
Hours: Day-use lots: Sunrise to 11 pm
Nature center: Summer (June 1 through Labor Day): 1-4 pm daily except Tues. and Thurs. Winter: Fri.-Sun., 1-4 pm.
Pier: Daily, 4 am-11 pm
Fees: Camping
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: Regional Transit Authority 
Useful Links: Central Coast Natural History Association 

Did You Know?

The Pismo clam, which can grow up to seven inches, is one of the largest types of clam found along the California coast.

Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, April 10, 2008
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing