Last weekend I visited Montana De Oro State Park. Spanish for “Mountain of Gold,” this section of Central California coastline earned its name because of all of the golden wildflowers that bloom across the park during springtime. It is one of California’s rare gems located in the county of San Luis Obispo.
As I walked down a serene path along the coast, I came across some tilted rock formations that were so intriguing, I found it incredibly difficult to look away. The sea would crash in and out of the coves, creating an amazing rhythm of sound and movement which complemented the landscape. This 8,000 acre State Park was full of life along its rocky cliffs, eucalyptus forests, sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills. It was a place of wonder and exploration that I enjoyed learning about as I pressed on.
The exposed rock used to be an ancient sea bed millions of years ago. Tiny fragments of ancient living organisms drifted to the bottom of the sea, mixing with silt and sand, creating a tightly bound mudstone. The Pacific Plate grinded against the North American Plate which tilted the sedimentary layers and raised them out of the sea at odd angles.
To the north, one can see Morro Rock sitting in the ocean, like a giant boulder that traveled to greet the seashore millions of years ago. I found out later that Morro Rock is not a boulder; it is actually an extremely hard core of an ancient volcano! It is part of the “Nine Sisters,” which is a chain of volcanic plugs left by ancient volcanic activity that happened over 20 million years ago.
As I took one last look around the landscape, I realized I had witnessed another intriguing place where ancient history presents itself before my eyes in the form of a vigorous, yet delicately shaped landscape.