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Click to enlarge Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery photo road trip mile 5
Information: Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery Photo: Photograph of beach strewn with the bodies of relaxing elephant seals if front of the wooden boardwalk the parking lot is in the background and the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse can be seen in the far distance.
The turnout for this nicely developed nature study area is usually easy to spot because the seals attract large numbers of other strange wild creatures similar to those in the upper right photos and these odd animals usually leave easy to spot automobiles in the parking lot; should you miss the parking lot not worries there is a second parking lot just north where you can park or turn around.
How many elephant seals are there and what they will be doing depends on the time of year, here is a calendar of elephant seal habits. There is a self led tour along a boardwalk with seal information interpretive signs along the way; also during the busiest times there are often docents from the Friends of the Elephant Seals who can answer any questions you might have, watch for them in bright blue windbreakers.
Near Points of Interest: The road trip just left unbelievable historic residence of William Randolph Hearst (Hearst Castle®) and the quaint vintage old San Simeon Village and the beautiful historic Piedras Blancas Light House and abandoned Piedras Blancas Motel are just ahead and the wonderful Ragged Point Inn Resort is just 10 scenic miles north on the Pacific Coast Highway 1.
Beach Access and Day Use Parks & Picnic Areas: 10 miles north on scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1 is the best picnic spot on the California Central Coast, the Ragged Point Inn and Resort or William Randolph Hearst State Beach is back 5 miles.
Near places to Eat: The Ragged Point Inn and Resort offers many options for places to eat and it is 10 miles north on PCH 1 and just 5 miles back is Sebastian's General Store and Cafe in old San Simeon; they feature Hearst Ranch free range grass fed beef and have a Hearst Ranch Wine tasting room too, taste the local flavors! Back about 5 miles also are Hearst Castle California State Historical Monument concessions which offer fast food, hamburgers deli sandwiches, espresso and more...
Near Hotel Lodgings & Resorts: 10 miles north is the Ragged Point Inn, 10 miles south is San Simeon Acres, motels line both side of the highway for about half a mile, of these Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort is the best choice.
Near Campgrounds: 23 miles north on PCH 1 is Treebones Yurt Resort camping south about 11 miles is San Simeon Creek Campground.
History & Museums: In the 1880's elephant seals were thought to be extinct, having been over harvested by shore whalers and sealers for their blubber. The oil obtained from elephant seals is second in quality only to the sperm whale. In the 1990’s they began to haul up on the beach at Piedras Blancas followed soon by a population explosion and sudden expansion of the seal rookery there and it is now home to about 17,000 seals. The bluff top viewing area has been developed with 2 parking areas, fences, 2 boardwalks with natural history signage and other seal support and protection.
Gasoline, Public Restrooms, Supplies: The closest gasoline available to the south is 14 miles on PCH 1 in Cambria; the next gas north is at Ragged Point, both gas stations have mini marts for supplies. There no public restrooms at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery (go figure?) go north on PCH 1 for 2 miles and there are some chemical toilets at the now defunct Piedras Blancas Motel; the closest south would 5 miles be at San Simeon.
Other Facilities, Services or Activities:
There are other pullouts, beaches and places to play and you are sounded by breathtaking scenery but this place is really nowhere. There are no restrooms here, the closest ones to the north are still 10 miles at Ragged Point Inn Resort and the closest south are 5 miles back at San Simeon. Also there is no reasonably priced gas anywhere near; the closest south of any kind is in Cambria about 12 miles and there are a few gas stations scattered along the Pacific Coast Highway to the north but gas prices are high the closest reasonably priced gas to the north is in Carmel 84 miles away. The prices and unavailability of some things should be considered when you are planning your road trip, this section of coast is isolated and the extra costs to get stuff shipped up here gets past on along to you the traveler. Believe it or not there is even a stretch of this highway where they have to make their own electricity because the wires haven’t made it yet, Gorda Springs Resort, Treebones Big Sur Yurt Resort, and Lucia Lodge are all “off the grid” and have to generate their own electricity with gas that has to get hauled in by smaller trucks that can handle the slow treacherous highway. So gas up, pack a sleeping bag and picnic lunch before you make this road trip! And don't forget some extra underwear this is a scary highway and bring an extra pullover too, layering is the answer to the quick changing weather.
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