Sunset at Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Dune It Right

Watch a Beach Sunset at Ford Ord Dunes State Park in Monterey

Want a beach that will really get you away from it all? Fort Ord Dunes State Park is just the ticket. And it often glows golden toward sunset. Opened to the public in 2009, this less-known addition to the state parks system gives an impressive perspective of the half-moon shaped Monterey Bay.

Fort Ord was once an army training facility, and while there are remnants of its past and an audio tour available for more context and history, it’s been transformed into a recreational landscape, and a sublime place to watch ocean meet land at its beautiful beach.

Paraglider at Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Sunset at Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Sunset at Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Get a great perspective from the main parking lot, where a short ascent goes to a bird’s-eye view of the coast. Then stroll down to the beach via a short hike that starts on the paved recreation trail running north to south through the park (a favorite for bikers and walkers, and it’s dog-friendly).

Sunset at Fort Ord Dunes State Park

A sign points the way to a sandy trail leading down to the beach (no dogs here, sorry). At the beach stroll for a while or take a seat on driftwood. Soak in views all the way north to Santa Cruz and the peak of Loma Prieta and south to the Monterey Peninsula. The late-day sun spreads across the horizon, casting a marigold hue across the sand as pelicans coast the skies, buoyed by the sea breeze. Sand, salty air, sun … magic. 

Here's a map to Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Dog-friendly on the trails and parking area. No dogs on the beach.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Golden Gate's Blue Heron

    Golden Gate Park’s Blue Heron Lake is home to birds of many feathers, turtles lounging on rocks, visitors from afar, and locals who love this urban oasis in San Francisco. Try the "Boats and Breakfast" rowboat or pedal boat deal.

    View
  2. Cañada Collage

    This 4.3-mile loop through Cañada Del Oro Open Space Preserve showcases all the highlights of the season, thrumming with wildlife and wildflowers.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  4. Hike Kortum Trail on the Sonoma Coast

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Camp at Goose Lake in the Lakes Basin

    Duck, Duck, Goose!

    Try to get a first-come, first-served campsite at one of the Lakes Basin’s lakeside campgrounds. We love Goose Lake Campground, where there are just 13 sites and no motorized boats.

    View
  2. Fancy Camp

    Wanna go rugged on the coast, minus the whole pitching your own tent and sleeping on the ground bit? Mendocino Grove is spot-on for upgrading your roughing-it experience, with beautifully appointed tent-cabins set across the bluffs overlooking Mendocino Bay.

    View
  3. A Splash of Whiskeytown

    Located just 8 miles west of Redding and surrounded by mountain peaks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is nearly 40,000 acres of all things outdoors: waterfalls, campgrounds, beaches, hiking trails, and a beautiful crystal-clear lake at the center of it all.

    View
  4. Bucks Up!

    Come on in, the water is beautiful. Whether you like swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddling, or heading out on a bigger boat, Bucks Lake is a high mountain haven that’s easy to access, blissfully uncrowded, and surrounded by sandy beaches, picnic areas, pines, and aspens.

    View