Dec 15

How does Morro Rock stack up to other rocks?

Whether I’m driving by it, surfing in its shadow or frolicking on the sand nearby, I’m always in awe of Morro Rock.

The way it sits in the ocean, all stoic, never moving, and shouldering big waves in the winter — it’s the most recognizable symbol of the Central Coast’s shoreline. But it probably doesn’t get the recognition of other big rocks. Here’s a comparison of some of the great rocks of the world:


The jewel of the Central Coast, we’re lucky it’s still around, given that parts of it were blown up and used forchurches, houses and wave barriers, from 1889-1969.  First charted by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, the 580-foot volcanic creation was often used as a landmark by sailors and also a sacred site by Salinan and Chumash indians.

Claim to fame: Appeared in Sandra Bullock movie “Murder by Numbers.”


When Mayflower pilgrims came to the new world in 1620, they landed at Plymouth Rock, at what is now Plymouth, Massachuchetts. But while this rock plays a big role in history, the 20,000-pound piece of stone was never physically big. And, in fact, through the years, it got smaller, as tourists and souveneir hunters chipped away pieces of it.

Claim to fame: “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock – the rock was landed on us!” — Malcom X


Located in Costa Rica, Witch’s Rock is mostly known as the landmark of a world class surf spot. The name itself comes from a legend that a witch actually lives in the rock.

Claim to fame: You can see Robert August surfing here in the Bruce Brown flick “Endless Summer II.”


Located in the Southwest tip of Europe, The Rock features a Moorish Castle built in A.D. 711, which is a symbol for the 710 years of Moorish occupation here. During World War II, there were 30,000 British soldiers on the 1,390-foot Rock. The soldiers had expanded previously existing tunnels in the Rock so they could hide in the event that Germans captured it.

Claim to fame: In the Beatles song “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” John Lennon sings about getting married here.


Part of Monument Valley in the Utah’s Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation, this is more of a series of sandstone buttes. But they’ve become iconic for their use in movies that involve cross-country travel scenes.

Claim to fame: “2001: Space Odyssey,” “Easy Rider,” “Forrest Gump,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Back to the Future III,” etc.


Located in Yosemite National Park,the 3000-foot El Cap has become the standard for big-wall climbers. But mostly it’s just visually impressive.

Claim to fame: All those Ansel Adams photos.

Photos: Joe Johnston (Morro Rock, Witch’s Rock), Wikipedia (all others)

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