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Oceano Dunes camping reservations canceled due to King Tides

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Posted at 6:53 PM, Nov 30, 2021

Camping reservations at the Oceano Dunes are being canceled due to the approaching King Tides.

If you had camping reservations at the dunes anytime between November 30 through December 6, you should have received an email saying that your reservations are canceled.

"We just saw people starting to leave and go, 'What's going on? What's happening?' We were kind of surprised and thought well, maybe lots of people are leaving today and oh no, reservations are being canceled because of the tide," said visitor Donna Atkinson.

Some campers learned the news after planning their trip months in advance.

"We made the reservation July 14, 2021," said visitor Melissa Mutzig.

Mutzig said they were notified of the partial cancellation of their trip a couple of days before their trek to the dunes. But by that time, their bags were packed and they had already made arrangements for the trip.

"I took the whole week off of work," Mutzig said. "My husband is self-employed so he put jobs back. We took my daughter out of school, did the independent study contract so she would still get credit for being in school. To come six hours for two days was disappointing."

King tides are exceptionally high tides that happen during a new or full moon and when the moon is closest to earth. According to NOAA's tide gauge at Port San Luis, the highest tides of the year will be this Saturday and Sunday.

"Especially on the West Coast, you tend to see your largest tides in June and December in particular," said Greg Dusek, NOAA Scientist. "It's very much dependent on your specific location but it is definitely a higher than normal tide."

The weather and waves also play a role in the tide.

"I think the county is probably going to dodge a bullet," said Stefan Talke, Cal Poly Civil Engineering Professor. "If there had been a storm, let's say, or other oceanographic conditions, then a combination of high tide and the extra water level caused by meteorological conditions could really cause a problem."

Long-time visitors say they've never had their reservations canceled due to the tides while others point out that the tides usually happen the same time every year.

"We've been coming here vacationing for years and we've been here during King Tides and you're just careful when you come over the little lake area," Atkinson said.

"I think that they know the tide schedule so I think that's frustrating as well that we got the notification Friday when they know the tide schedule way in advance," Mutzig added.

State Parks says that day-use areas may be closed on and off through December 7 due to tidal conditions.

All 225 impacted reservation holders will receive a full refund.