Elevation: 500 ft
GPS: 35.37, -120.868 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 88,014 total · 475/month
Shared By: Kristin McNamara on Mar 8, 2004
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
60°F - 54°F 16°C - 12°C
61°F - 54°F 16°C - 12°C
60°F - 54°F 16°C - 12°C
59°F - 51°F 15°C - 11°C
Memorial Day
60°F - 52°F 16°C - 11°C
61°F - 54°F 16°C - 12°C
Access Issue: Closed to climbers. Details


This is the large rock (576') in the bay in Morro Bay. Though it sports many appealing lines, numerous climbers have been killed in the past, and it is a confirmed home to nesting peregrine falcons, making it off limits to climbers.

It is one of the Nine Sisters or the Morros (which include Morro Rock, Cabrillo Peak, Black Hill, Hollister Peak, Cerro Romauldo, Chumash Peak, Bishop Peak - 1559', San Luis Peak, and Ishlay Hill) that are a chain of volcanic mountains of San Luis Obispo County of Central California. The rock type is primarily dactite.

Getting There

Drive north from San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, exit Morro Bay Blvd and head to the Embarcadero (due west). Follow the road and park at the base of the Rock. Look up. Do not climb.

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The peregrine falcon is no longer on the endangered list from what I understand. I was recently contacted by someone representing (I think it was the Access Fund?) and they were trying to get information on the history of climbing at Morro Rock. Apparently, there is a movement to get information together to present to the "powers that be" in an effort to open up climbing on Morro Rock. At the very least, maybe open up certain sections of the rock at times with the least disturbance to the nesting falcons. However, I won't be holding my breath. In situations like this when they have had an "excuse" to make something off-limits, when that "excuse" expires, they will just find another "excuse" because they don't want to deal with the "problem" of people in that area. Mar 24, 2004
Climbing should be allowed on Morro Rock so that we can most effectively re-threaten at-risk species. Nothing should stand in the way of our rights!

Peregrines are still on the watch list until 2015. Their future is not is certain.

163 species of birds have been found to be susceptible to the West-Nile virus. The list includes several species of hawks, including American kestrel, merlin, and prairie falcon, which are closely related to peregrines. In September of 2002, a moribund 2-year old peregrine was picked up in New Jersey; it died two weeks later. Extensive tests showed definite exposure to, and probable death from, West Nile Virus. In July 2003, evidence emerged from one nest in Virginia that three of four peregrine nestlings might have succumbed to West Nile Virus.

Falcons are also particularly sensitive to disturbance, so listed or not it would be irresponsible to climb on morro rock. Even if they were nesting seagulls or pigeons, or ducks....why would anyone want to disturb them? Give them a break. Just because a species isnt listed as "endangered" doesn't mean that we shouldn't respect them and do what we can to protect them.

Hopefully you _people_ wont be given an _excuse_ to bolt and climb everything in sight at the expense of other people and species. Mar 25, 2004
Hey anonymous...there are ways of allowing climbing at certain times and on certain parts of the rock that would not threaten the bird. (i.e. periodic closures of the Rostrum in the Valley). You were very worked up in your post, try to relax a little bit and look at things with a level head instead of taking the "Chicken Little" route. Mar 25, 2004
You're right...sarcasm wasn't the best approach.

I was trying to point out that sometimes the climbing blinds us. For example, everyone is arguing about rebolting and retrobolting...ask a non-climber their opinion and they would say the problem is the bolting itself, not the style in which it was done. Since we have all accepted bolting in general, we have moved onto more nebulous concepts and forgotten about the basics, our impacts on everything and everyone else.

My intent was to remind everyone that climbing around on a particular rock isn't the most important thing in the world, unless you happen to be a nesting bird, or a roosting bat, or a hiker out for a pleasant walk not wanting to see bolts, rap slings, chalk, gardening at the base, or hear the buzz of a drill. Mar 26, 2004
Oh, by the way. Falcon tastes a lot like chicken. You ought to try it... Mar 29, 2004
No, doesn't really taste like chicken, it kind of tastes like a cross between Bald Eagle and spotted owl. Mar 29, 2004
Too funny Jody!!Now Rattlesnake DOES taste like chicken, but it has annoying bones like fish in it.

I have looked long and hard at Morro Rock more than a few times. I think that one is best left to the birds. They have marked most of it as their own (gives new meaning to crappy rock). There could be a few good lines on it but I don't think it will be open anytime soon. Give it as a token sacrifice to the enviromental Gods. Just as long as they leave Bishops open.

Mar 29, 2004