Biking: San Luis Obispo County - Self Guided Multi-Day
Overview - San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Self Guided Bike Tour
Located south of Big Sur, San Luis Obispo County has a diverse offering of breathtaking coastal scenery, marine wildlife viewing, beaches and wine country within a relatively small and manageable area. A series of small towns along the coast in northern SLO County make the area an ideal cycling destination for families or more casual cyclists looking to keep daily mileages short, but still have a lot of options to explore. The Edna Valley wine country in southern SLO County also beckons.
***ALL CENTRAL COAST OUTDOORS BIKE TOURS ARE PRIVATE***
Quick Links to Page Contents
- Standard Itinerary
- Custom Bike Tour Questionnaire (Start here for booking a tour)
- John's Tour Thoughts
- Adding Layover/Rest Days
- Mileage Calculator for Alternate Itineraries
- Traffic, Road Conditions and Terrain
- Overview Map
- Cost and Availability of Accommodations
- Daily Luggage Delivery Rates
- Start and End Tour Transportation
3 Days / 74 Total Miles / Daily Average = 25 Miles / Daily Range = 22-30 Miles
*** Please see John's Tour Thoughts and Mileage Calculator for Alternate Itineraries for information about tours within the San Luis Obispo County Zone for different start/end points and/or different numbers of days and mileages. ***
Day One - Ragged Point to Cambria - 22 miles (elevation +937/-1202 ft)
This SLO County self guided bike tour starts with a shuttle in the morning from San Luis Obispo to Ragged Point (a little over one hour drive time). From Ragged Point the coastal route in northern SLO County features relatively forgiving terrain, but still encompasses expansive ocean views as you pass by historic Hearst Ranch and Hearst Castle. Just south of Piedras Blancas lighthouse, the largest elephant seal colony in North America is a must-see stop. Home for the evening is the charming seaside village of Cambria, featuring numerous art galleries and restaurants. Extra miles can easily be added today by exploring inland valleys along Santa Rosa Creek Road and/or San Simeon Creek Road.
Day Two - Cambria to Morro Bay - 22 miles (Elevation +724/-742 ft)
South of Cambria on this San Luis Obispo County bike tour you'll veer inland for short while before returning to the coast just north of Cayucos, a classic beach town with a pier, a huge sandy beach and surfers plying the waves just offshore. Our route hugs the coast from Cayucos south to Morro Bay, a fishing village with a scenic harbor area. Extra miles can be added today by exploring inland valleys along Santa Rosa Creek Road (if you didn't do that yesterday) and/or Cayucos Creek Road.
Day Three - Morro Bay to Pismo Beach - 30 miles (elevation +1255/-1213 ft)
From Morro Bay to SLO on this self guided bike tour you'll skirt the edge of wildlife rich Morro Bay National Estuary before cutting inland for through idyllic ranchland to San Luis Obispo (voted happiest town in North America!) and its historic mission district. Those up for an additional challenge will enjoy a hilly optional ride to Montana de Oro State Park between Morro Bay and SLO. From SLO you can either cycle inland through the Edna Valley wine country or head back toward the coast on your way to Pismo Beach, another classic beach town.
**Please note that all mileages and elevation gain/loss data (in feet) are approximate only and will vary according to hotel location and actual routes ridden.**
After reviewing the information on our website, if you'd like to see an alternate itinerary, doing the above itinerary in more or less days and/or getting the process of planning a multi-day bike tour with us started, please use our Custom Bike Tour Questionnaire. You can always give us a call at 805.528.1080 as well.
- Options to add miles and hills on each day of the San Luis Obispo County cycle tour itinerary above make this a great itinerary for groups of mixed abilities. Casual cyclists can ride point to point while stronger cyclists can tack on extra miles on the optional rides.
- A four day version of this itinerary can be done by splitting the day from Morro Bay to Pismo Beach into two days and staying in SLO along the way.
- We've also done cycling itineraries that head down the northern SLO County coast to SLO and to Pismo Beach via the Edna Valley, then loop back to SLO via the coastal route and Avila Beach.
- It's also possible to just stay in SLO and do two full days of cycling from there. One day is a loop into the Edna Valley wine country and the other day is an out and back ride to Avila Beach.
- One could also start with one to two days of biking down the coast in the northern part of the county to SLO, then stay in SLO for the rest of the itinerary, cycling the Edna Valley and/or out and back to Avila Beach.
- For California Coast bike tours we ALWAYS recommend going from north to south (one way) due to prevailing winds along the coast from the north and northwest.
Interesting layover days on SLO County self guided bike tours can be made in the following locations:
Cambria. There is quite a selection of art galleries, fine restaurants and wine tasting available in Cambria. Hearst Castle is just a few miles north. Try kayaking in San Simeon Cove with Sea For Yourself. There are also numerous hiking trails in and around Cambria, including San Simeon State Park.
Morro Bay. This small coastal town has an interesting harbor area and a big sandy beach as well as a wildlife rich section of the bay that beckons to be explored by kayak. Central Coast Outdoors has excellent kayak tours of the bay. Morro Bay State Park offers shorter hikes and has a fun little natural history museum.
San Luis Obispo (SLO). This diverse town offers plenty of galleries and restaurants in its award winning downtown area. The Edna Valley stretches south of town and offers numerous winery tasting rooms and great cycling.
If you are interested in starting or ending at different points than in the sample SLO County self guided bike tour itinerary and/or if you want to increase or decrease the number of days of your SLO County bike tour to yield different daily average mileages, please use the calculator below to begin customizing your tour. Please don't hesitate to email us if you have other questions or would like a proposed itinerary with your specifications sent to you.
Metric conversion: miles x 1.61 = kilometers
Please email us to request more information on specific itineraries or to start the process of booking a tour with us.
For shorter itineraries within the SLO County tour zone or longer itineraries that include the SLO County bike tour zone, please click on the following links:
- San Francisco to Los Angeles
- Monterey to Santa Barbara
- Monterey to San Luis Obispo (SLO)
- San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara
Traffic for most San Luis Obispo County bike tour routes is variable. Some stretches are on remote roads that have little to no traffic. Some of the cycling route is on Highway One, which has differing traffic volumes on different portions. Highway One also has highly variable shoulders with some stretches that have little to no shoulder. The stretches of Highway One with little to no shoulder are concentrated in the 10 miles south of Ragged Point and can be avoided by not shuttling all the way to Ragged Point to start the trip. There is also a short stretch of riding from Cayucos to Morro Bay (about 4 miles) on a busier section of Highway One, but this section has a very wide shoulder. Cyclists doing a SLO County bike tour should be comfortable riding with traffic for certain shorter portions of the tour.
The terrain for SLO County bike tour routes is variable, but less challenging than the riding along the Big Sur coast to the north. Most days will have some combination of relatively level riding mixed with a few sections of hillier riding. There are often ways to avoid cycling some of the larger hills. If you like riding hills, many of the optional rides are quite hilly.
For self guided bike tours within SLO County, you can carry your own gear in a pannier system we provide, or we will move luggage between hotels for the tour. See below for details.
Prices for self guided tours within SLO County are structured differently than for other longer distance self guided bike tours coming down the coast. For SLO County self guided bike tours we usually charge a daily per person rate ranging from $60 or $80 depending on the size of the group plus a flat fee if we are shuttling you up to Ragged Point or some other location in the northern coastal part of SLO County to start your tour. A shuttle at the end of the tour back to SLO is usually no extra charge, if needed.
|Group Size||Per Person Daily Rate||
Added Cost if Shuttle to Ragged Point at Start of Tour
The cost and availability of accommodations on a SLO County self guided bike tour can vary considerably and is influenced by location, high season vs. low season rates, and weekend vs. weekday rates. The best way to get a sense for what accommodations for your tour might cost is to first choose a specific itinerary and dates and ask us to email you our lists of recommended accommodations for each stop along the way. Then you can check availability and rates for your specific dates. It can be a challenge to find hotel accommodations for less than $100 per night average, although if you are willing to stay in hostels where they exist, you can average less than $100 per night. Most budget hotel accommodations are in the $80-150 per night range. Mid range accommodations are typically between $150-300 per night. Some places may require two nights stays on certain busy weekends. The farther in advance you plan your bike tour, the better chance you have to get the accommodations you want at each stop along the way. Virtually all accommodations we recommend have websites where you can check availability and book rooms.
Daily luggage delivery is not normally included in our self guided bike tour package, but can potentially be arranged for an extra fee. For most groups the rate to move luggage is $150 per move. Larger groups may have a higher rate. Please contact us if you are interested in a quote on daily luggage delivery for your self guided bike tour.
San Luis Obispo Area
San Luis Obispo has a regional airport (SBP) quite near town, although it is smaller and currently served by only two airlines (United and US Air). There are non-stop flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix. San Luis Obispo is also well served by Amtrak and has several trains/buses per day north toward the San Francisco Bay Area south toward Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Many people assume you can rent a car in most of the towns in SLO County, but this is not the case. There are no places to rent cars along the northern SLO County coast (i.e. Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay) until you get to the town of SLO itself, where most major national car rental companies are represented.