El Chorro Regional Park is getting a makeover — but first it needs a new name

Hiking Eagle Rock Nature Trail

The Eagle Rock Nature Trail at El Chorro Regional Park off of Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo offers a moderate hike with two ways explore the trail.
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The Eagle Rock Nature Trail at El Chorro Regional Park off of Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo offers a moderate hike with two ways explore the trail.

El Chorro Regional Park and Dairy Creek Golf Course will soon begin a transformation into the “gem” of the San Luis Obispo County parks system, with new activities for hikers, golfers, bikers, horseback-riders and more.

First, though, it needs a new name.

In the lead is Eagle Rock Park — inspired by the area’s geography, which includes a grassy hill with a rocky outlook and trail by that name. The county paid Adverb Marketing Group $1,800 to hold focus group meetings to come up with it, and parks staff feels Eagle Rock Park meets the goals of a simple, memorable and marketable name. And yes, eagles have been known to nest there.

It’s attractive to all visitors, a staff report says.

But some park commissioners aren’t convinced.

While some called the name “fine,” others said they want something more “exciting.” Without unanimous support from that commission, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declined to adopt the new name. Now the Parks and Recreation Department is back to the drawing board.

“It has to be something that’s going to resonate with everyone,” said Parks and Recreation Director Nick Franco. “You’re trying to come up with a name that’s going to be OK for a bride, a mountain biker, a hiker and a dog owner.”

“We like Eagle Rock because I think it meets all the criteria,” he added.

The name El Chorro, which means “fast-moving stream,” may be outdated given the state of Dairy Creek. But it is rooted in history as the name of the old Spanish land grant.

Pandora Nash-Karner, the parks commissioner representing the district that includes El Chorro, said she wants to “continue to seek an exciting name that will resonate with future and current visitors.”

New activities

The larger plan for the park is to expand recreational opportunities, downsize the golf course and rebrand the area as a dynamic destination built for the entire community. The first phase of expanded activities, like a zip-line and mini-golf course, are expected within two or three years.

Set across Highway 1 from Cuesta College, the 720-acre area is located between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

The area already offers a bunch of activities: a golf course, campground, ball fields, hiking trails, a playground, picnic areas, a botanical garden, dog park, climbing rock and volleyball court. There’s also a restaurant at the park.

The county began discussions to reconsider use of the park in 2016 after a lack of water left areas of grass on the golf course brown. As a result, the county created a goal to “bring parks into golf and golf into parks.” The golf course will be reduced from 18 holes to nine, but it will include an expanded driving range more attractive to beginner golfers.

Facilities for new activities are expected to be installed in the next few years. They include a 36-hole mini-golf course, dozens of camping cabins, and multiple bicycle courses for different-aged riders, including a mountain-bike skills course.

A zip-line, electric go-carts, an 18-hole disc-golf course and a new equestrian area are also on the horizon.

“It’s going to be a really cool facility. I can’t think of anything like it,” Assistant Director of Parks Larry Laquinto said.

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