Hearst San Simeon State Park
Hearst San Simeon State Park is one of the oldest units of the California State Park System. The coastal bluffs and promontories of the scenic park offer unobstructed views of the ocean and rocky shore. The park includes the Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve, the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve which were established in 1990.
A 3.3 mile trail runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Washburn Campground. The trail includes scenic overlooks, rest-stop benches and interpretive panels with information on wildlife and habitat. A portion of the trail along the seasonal wetland is wheelchair accessible.
- Santa Rosa Creek Preserve is an area which includes valuable riparian forests and coastal wetlands, that provide habitat for endangered Tidewater Goby.
- San Simeon Natural Preserve consists of vast wetlands, riparian areas, and several undisturbed native plant communities including unique mima mound topography. The Preserve is also the wintering site for monarch butterfly populations.
- The 13.7 acre Pa-nu Cultural Preserve contains the most significant archeological site within San Simeon State Park. The site has been dated to 5850 years before the present, and it contains significant evidence documenting prehistoric technology, subsistence practices and social organization over the course of several centuries.
A unique opportunity to view northern elephant seals is available at the Elephant Seal Boardwalk in Hearst San Simeon State Park. This vantage point provides an ideal location to view these marine mammals from a safe distance.
Located around Point Piedras Blancas, the elephant seal rookery extends along 6 miles of the shoreline. Elephant seals may be seen throughout the year. The largest populations and the most activity are during the months of late January, April and October. Although elephant seals spend most of their lives in the open ocean, they arrive at the rookery to give birth, breed, molt and rest from long migrations in the ocean in search of food.
The viewing areas are open to the public year round and are wheelchair accessible. Docents are on site to answer questions. No reservations are required and there is no fee. Restroom facilities are not available at this location. The nearest restrooms are 4 miles south of the viewing areas at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach.