Going riding on the Pismo Preserve? The stunning views and the variety of trails simply won’t disappoint. However, don’t just load up your rig and head over there without understanding how the Pismo Preserve horse trailer parking works.
First of all, you need a parking reservation for any day other than Horse Trailer Tuesdays or special equestrian group/docent led trail rides. The parking is free and the space allowed is for a standard truck and four-horse trailer or smaller (total of 45 feet in total rig length). Any rig larger is not recommended.
The nuts and bolts of the Pismo Preserve horse trailer parking registration
So how does this all work? The good news is there is a designated horse trailer parking area in the Pismo Preserve parking lot located at the south end of Mattie Road in Shell Beach. Equestrian parking is well-marked with two different signs identifying the area as Equestrian Parking only. You will find the equestrian parking on the west side of the parking lot.
The bad news is horse trailer parking is limited. Because space is limited, a reservation system has been set up. You can make your parking reservation using this link: https://lcslo.org/pismo-preserve-equestrian-parking-registration/
Be sure you enter your correct vehicle license plate number when making your reservation.
If you can’t use your reserved parking slot please be sure to cancel by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feeling like riding the Pismo Preserve?
First check the registration system and make a horse trailer parking reservation before heading out. If there are already reservations in the system for your time frame, then you’ll have to choose another day or time to go. There are two main time slots for three reservations each day 6:00 am – 12:00 or 1:00 – Closing.
You can start your ride at any time within the time frame but you must be out of there by the end of that time slot. Reservations can be made up to three months ahead of time, or on the day of riding if there is an open slot. You must have a reservation though before going. Please note: Reservations are not needed on Horse Trailer Tuesdays – more on that following.
Where and how do I park once I get to the Pismo Preserve?
You will enter the parking lot like all other vehicles and swing counter-clockwise around to the west rim where you will see a strip of dirt for equestrian parking against the metal railing. You will park parallel to the metal railing. Pull up as far as possible to allow room for additional trailers to fill in behind you. If you pull up behind a horse trailer already parked there, please allow room (at least 15 ft) for those horses to unload and load.
Place your parking registration to display clearly on your dashboard. The license number on the registration MUST match your vehicle’s license.
What if there are cars or trucks/trailers without a reservation parked in the equestrian parking?
If you find a car or horse trailer without a reservation parked in the equestrian parking area please contact the LCSLO office at (805) 544-9096. If possible, take a photo of the truck and trailer including the vehicle’s license plate. All autos parked in the equestrian area will be towed. Rigs without a parking registration will have “boot” placed on a tire. The owner will have to pay a towing company to have it removed.
No reservation needed on Horse Trailer Tuesdays
The first and third Tuesdays of every month are currently deemed “Horse Trailer Tuesdays”, where the entire parking lot is limited to horse trailers only.
The first and third Tuesdays of every month are currently deemed “Horse Trailer Tuesdays”, where the entire parking lot is limited to horse trailers only. On these days a reservation is not required, however, most rigs will be parking on the asphalt. Spots will fill on a first-come basis. 11 rigs can fit (45 ft as the largest) on the asphalt along with the standard 3 in the equestrian parking so a total of 14 rigs could be parked at one time on Horse Trailer Tuesdays. When leaving the asphalt area the orientation of the parking lot will require you to drive out “against” the flow or clockwise.
Just know that even on Horse Trailer Tuesdays the Preserve will still be open to bikers and hikers. On-going education will help all entities to share the adventure.
The availability and frequency of Horse Trailer Tuesdays may change based on use. If we, as equestrians, DON’T use this feature, these days may become less. If we push up demand we may get additional days added.
Mulit-Use trails allow all to enjoy
Open space is enjoyed by many using different forms of exploration. Two trails, Vamonos and Lover’s Point trail, are hiking only trails. All trails feature a gradual elevation gain and are designed for a clear line of sight. However, some segments are very narrow so in these sections standard yield rules (hikers and bikers yield to horses) will apply. In some segments, horses should pull off on a wider section and let others pass. Mountain bikers will be required to use bells so hikers and horseback riders can hear them coming.
What level of riding or experience is suggested for horse and rider?
Due to the terrain, the Pismo Preserve has a lot of climbing and some sections are narrow. In addition, the multi-use aspect may not be good for an inexperience horse or rider. Thus, it is recommended that experienced horses and riders ride the Pismo Preserve.
Helmets are not required but are recommended. However, helmets ARE required on any docent led ride or group trail ride organized through a horse organization.
There are plenty of other SLO County rides to enjoy for riders and horses at variety of experience levels. To learn more get your copy of the e-book, SLO County Trail Ride Guide.
Pismo Preserve amenities
Please DO NOT leave your horse manure behind in the parking lot. Please pack out all manure and take a moment at home to pick out your horse’s feet before heading out.
- For your convenience, you will find manure management tools available next to the restroom in the parking lot. Please be sure these tools get returned to their proper place so others can use them.
- There are restrooms in the parking lot for riders to use.
- Tie rails have been installed in two locations on the Pismo Preserve: the Avila Overlook and along the Discovery Trail between the Notch and Lover’s Point. There are two water troughs near the center of the Preserve, as marked with a “W” on the trail map. Picnic tables are located near the tie rails.
- There is a water spigot in the parking lot at the end of the equestrian parking zone near the restrooms. Don’t forget a water bucket! Horses can be tied to the steel rail fence in the parking lot next to your trailer – please do NOT tie to the rail if your horse may pull back.
Much thought has been given to making the Pismo Preserve accessible to equestrians. Please be good stewards of the opportunity.
Group trail rides on the Pismo Preserve
There will be a few calendar days each year where horse organizations can plan a group trail ride. If you are interested in planning a day for your organization please contact the Land Conservancy of SLO. Helmets will be required.
Docent-led rides will be scheduled, yet will be dependent on docent availability and demand.
How do you get there?
Driving Directions: The Pismo Preserve is located off exit 191B from US Highway 101 in Pismo Beach. The entrance and parking lot are located on the east side of the freeway at the very southern end of Mattie Road.
Go Enjoy the Pismo Preserve just be sure you understand how the Pismo Preserve Horse Trailer Parking works.
Photo Credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos
Discover the Pismo Preserve and enjoy the memories of riding on this special gem of the Central Coast. Get the artwork for a printable set of note cards with two scenes of riding the Pismo Preserve (FREE). Download this artwork to your home computer and you can print note cards every day. You will become a member of our SLO Horse News herd where we’ll continue to add trail riding stories and more to our website. Don’t worry if you are already a member, you won’t get duplicate mailings. Get the artwork for printable Pismo Preserve Note Cards >.