PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY # 11 — SAN SIMEON (Hearst Castle and Elephant Seal Rookery)

Continuing north Pacific Coast Highway leaves the shoreline periodically until you reach Morro Bay. You can go down to the coast in some areas but you may have to hike to get to the shoreline. I leave exploring these areas to the young and the strong!

Who hasn’t heard of the Hearst Castle? Hearst Castle is beautiful and certainly its history very interesting, but if you are planning a visit you need to do your homework and check your wallet. If you want to tour all areas of the house and grounds it will cost $100 per adult and $48 per child. to tour the basic house and grounds. Individual tours (garden, grand rooms, cottage and kitchen, and upstairs suites) cost $25 each for adult and $12 each for children. There are other tours as well which range from $30 to $100 for adults and a $750 package for groups up to 6 people. http://hearst.reserveamerica.com/

Below Hearst Castle and four miles to the north is Point Piedras Blancas where you will see an Elephant Seal Rookery. It is definitely one of the highlights along the PCH and even more popular than its neighboring attraction Hearst Castle. (And it’s free)

First a big thank you to the volunteers who have maintained the viewing areas and safe walkways in addition to providing placards telling us about the Elephant Seals. (Note: There are no restroom facilities so you may want to make a quick stop before arriving at the rookery.)

Point Piadras Blancas

Point Piadras Blancas

Thousands of seals inhabit this rookery because it is protected by the Piedras Blancas point from storms coming out of the northwest and it’s wide, sandy beaches offer the pups protection from the high waters. Just off the beach are shallow rocky areas that provide an ideal place for young pups to learn how to swim.

 

I envy those who live nearby and can watch the magnificent Elephant Seals throughout the year. Here is a calendar to help you plan your trip to the Point Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.

November – Subadult males haul out. Mature males begin arriving at the end of1the month.

December – Bulls continue to return. Females arrive. The first birth is usually mid-month.

January – Females continue to arrive. Peak of births usually last half of month.

February – Births continue. The peak of mating is around Valentine’s Day. More females leave.

March – Last adults leave.  weaned pups teach themselves how to swim.

April – Females and juveniles return to molt.

May – Females and juveniles molt.

June – Subadult males return to molt.

July – Subadult and adult males molt.

August – Last of males molt.

September October – Young-of-the-year and juveniles haul out to rest.

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