Playa Morro Blanco & Punta Ballena, Bahía San Rafael

Just west of San Francisquito is an unmapped trail north to a secluded sandy beach on Bahía San Rafael known as Playa Morro Blanco. The entrance is marked by a dilapidated lots-for-sale sign. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  28.3913, -112.9237 

Road to Playa Morro Blanco and Punta Ballena on Bahía San Rafael - Fallen Sign: Lots for SaleRoad to Playa Morro Blanco and Punta Ballena on Bahía San Rafael - Fallen Sign: Lots for SaleRoad to Playa Morro Blanco and Punta Ballena on Bahía San Rafael - Fallen Sign: Punta BallenaRoad to Playa Morro Blanco and Punta Ballena on Bahía San Rafael - Fallen Signs - SportsmobileRoad to Playa Morro Blanco and Punta Ballena on Bahía San RafaelRoad to Playa Morro Blanco and Punta Ballena on Bahía San Rafael

I spent the next 24 hours exploring the area.

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicansPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - FlowerPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Dumped Shells

Hearing an engine sound, I looked up and saw the strangest thing: what looked like some kind of experimental airplane or UFO being towed by a helicopter! It was too far away to clearly make out what it was, but I was to run into it again later....

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Helicopter Towing UFO

I also visited an old mine in the area, where the rocks are loaded with fossil shells. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  28.4412, -112.9694 

Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael Mine with Shell Fossils near Playa Morro Blanco, Bahía San Rafael

Then I wandered down a very rough trail the most westerly accessible part of the beach, and camped for the night. There were few tire tracks, but many animals! See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  28.4550, -112.9897 

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San RafaelPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - End of Trail down to Beach - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Booby

There was a dead (baby?) whale on the beach that attracted many visitors, including this coyote and many turkey vultures.

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - CoyotePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vultures - Dead Whale - BeachPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vultures - Dead Whale - BeachPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Dead Whale - BeachPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Dead Whale - BeachPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vultures - Dead Whale - BeachPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - Turkey Vultures - Dead WhalePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - Turkey Vultures - Dead WhalePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - Turkey Vultures - Dead WhalePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vultures - Dead WhalePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vultures - Dead WhalePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vultures - Dead WhalePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey VulturesPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vulture on CactusPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey VulturesPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turkey Vulture - Moon

It was also fascinating to watch the pelicans soaring, then suddenly dive for fish.

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicansPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicanPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicanPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicansPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Pelican DivingPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Pelican DivingPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Pelican DivingPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Pelican DivingPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicanPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Pelicans

There were crabs crawling on the rocky cliffs. Like the nearby mining area, these cliffs were also encrusted with ancient shells.

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - CliffsPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - CrabsPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Fossils in RocksPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Shell Fossils in Rock

Hiking up behind the cliffs, to see elephant trees, and a lagoon to the east.

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - LagoonElephant Tree

The next day, I left to explore as far east as I could go along the shore of Bahía San Rafael — towards Punta Ballena.

Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Trail - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - LagoonPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Trail - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - PelicansPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Sign, "Playa Hermosa" - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Sandy Trail - SportsmobilePlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Turtle Shell - BeachPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - MudPlaya Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - Bones

Walking east along the beach, past a colorful lagoon, to the end: Punta Ballena. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  28.4748, -112.9035 

Punta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - LagoonPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - LagoonPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - Lagoon - BirdPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - LagoonPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Beach - BonesPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Punta Ballena - Beach - Fishing ShackPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Punta Ballena - PelicansPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Rock with CoralsPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Ocotillo FlowersPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Cactus

Just before I left the area, I saw the helicopter towing the UFO again!

Helicopter Towing UFOPunta Ballena on Playa Morro Blanco - Bahía San Rafael - Sandy Trail - Cactus - Sportsmobile