Elephant Seals


San Simeon’s famous residents

Elephant Seals

A Destination for Visitors from Around the World

Located just a few miles north of Hearst Castle, off of California Highway 1, the Piedras Blancas rookery has become a world-famous attraction.

It all started on November 25, 1990, when two dozen northern elephant seals were spotted in the small cove near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. Every year after that the seals returned, growing in population each time. Today more than 17,000 elephant seals that call the Piedras Blancas rookery home, migrating thousands of miles to this secluded sandy beach twice per year.

The best times to visit the rookery are in late January, late April, and late October, but visitors are welcome all year long, and docents are on-hand to provide information about elephant seal breeding, birthing and molting—all of which take place on this San Simeon beach.

Get up close and personal with a few of San Simeon’s most famous residents. See their activity right now on a webcam, then plan your trip to see the elephant seals today.
View webcam and plan your trip

Getting there
From Hearst Castle, drive north along California Highway 101 for approximately 4 miles, and park in the beach parking lot.

Friends of the Elephant Seal
Since 1997, the Friends of the Elephant Seal—a non-profit organization—has been dedicated to protecting the area’s majestic mammals and educating the thousands of rookery visitors each year.

Learn more about Friends of the Elephant Seal today, or become a member or docent.