San Simeon, California

San Simeon, CA

    San Simeon is a village and Census-designated place on the Pacific coast of San Luis Obispo County, California, United States. Its position along State Route 1 is about halfway between Los Angeles an…
    San Simeon is a village and Census-designated place on the Pacific coast of San Luis Obispo County, California, United States. Its position along State Route 1 is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, each of those cities being roughly 230 miles away. A key feature of the area is Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built for William Randolph Hearst in the early 20th century that is now a tourist attraction. The area is also home to a large northern elephant seal rookery, known as the Piedras Blancas rookery, located 7 miles north of San Simeon on Highway 1. The area is also home to an invasive zebra population of slightly over 100.


    Elephant Seals Basking in the Sun
    San Simeon is a small town above Cambria and Morrow Bay that is known for two things, Hearst Castle and Elephant Seals. However, one of those two things is free to visits and the other is 25 dollars a person, so naturally I checked out the elephant seals along the San Simeon coast. These creatures are truly unique with their huge stature and overall playfulness. Wikipedia gives the following background on them.Elephant seals derive their name from their great size and from the male’s large proboscis, which is used in making extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating competition. The males can grow to 14 ft and 5,000 lb, while the females grow to 11 ft and 1,400 lb.The seals viewing area is located right off of Highway 1 before you start the trek along the coast through Big Sur. The viewing area can sneak up on you, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled once you pass through the city of San Simeon. There are signs letting you know it is coming up though so if you are paying attention your should be able to find it. You will usually see a lot of people here and a lot of seals, like the below picture.This is a popular attraction with many daily visitors and you can easily spend some time taking in the beautiful coast line that is adjacent to the seals. This is one of the most beautiful areas and you can see why the seals would want to come relax here.You can only get about 25 feet from the seals at any given point. There is a long walk way that allows you to have many different views of them, but if you are going to take pictures make sure you bring a zoom lens so you can use it to capture fun shots.The seals themselves are very playful, and they are always making noise and biting each other. You will notice that they are always throwing sand on their backs to protect themselves from the sun. It is funny to watch them do the worm up and down the beach as well.The pictures may not show it, but these creatures are huge. I like the fact that I am on a viewing area because they appear to move pretty fast and outweigh the average human by 1100 pounds. Make sure you walk the whole length of the viewing area as there are more spots in the back where less people usually go. Plus the scenery is beautiful so you will want to take it all in.If you find yourself in the area, don’t just visit Hearst Castle, spend some time with the elephant seals as well.
    Dramatic Coastal Bluffs
    This is one of the oldest divisions of the California State Park System. This is a beach full of dramatic coastal bluffs, rocky shores and wonderful vistas. Part of the park is the “Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve,” the “San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve.” There is a 3.3 mile trail that runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve, and the Washburn Campground as well. The trail is wonderfully laid out, with scenic overlooks, rest stop benches and a good amount of information available on both the wildlife and habitat in the area. San Simeon State Park is located 35 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, and 5 miles south of the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument Visitor Center. The community of Cambria is located 2 miles to the South, offering food, lodging, gas stations and quaint local shops to tantalize the tourist. There are 115 campsites for either tents or recreational vehicles, with the maximum length of 35 feet for the RV’s. There are fire rings and picnic tables at each camp site and water spigots are available throughout the campground. Restrooms, coin operated showers, a dump station and water fill-ups for RV’s. Recreational activities include California camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, surfing, beachcombing, bird watching and whale watching. The Junior Ranger Program is a regularly scheduled interpretive program for children. Interpretive walks of the San Simeon Trail may also be available. Washburn Campground is one mile inland from the beach overlooking the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This is a primitive campground and the facilities include a fire ring and picnic table at each campsite, water spigots, chemical flush toilets and use of the dump station and water fill-up. Hearst Castle is one of the oldest historic house/museums in the United States, with a highly sophisticated guided tour. Home of the famed William Randolph Hearst, who was one of the many wealthy American collectors in who built and decorated incredible homes.


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    Data from: Wikipedia