Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area

This may be the most accessible location in the world to see a really impressive elephant seal rookery, as well as sea lions, harbor seals, northern fur seals and sea otters. Not only are elephant seals massive and interesting to watch, they are remarkable animals with an exceptional life history

There are helpful docents and excellent signage to interpret the often dynamic activities within the easily viewed rookeries. The elephant seals are just a tiny distance away from the parking area.

Piedras Blancas is a world-class, watchable wildlife gem that should not be missed.



15950 Cabrillo Hwy, San Simeon

Managed By

California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Distance from UCSB

145 mi

How To Get There


Things To Do

Viewing, Walking, Watchable Wildlife

Fun Facts

Adult male elephant seals weigh over two tons, and pups weigh approximately 70 pounds at birth. Hunted almost to extinction for their blubber, there were fewer than 100 northern elephant seals in existence in the late 1800s. Now there are over 150,000. With their remarkable physiological adaptations, elephant seals have been known to dive thousands of feet below sea level for several hours and can migrate over 13,000 miles.

Other Information

The Friends of the Elephant Seal have an excellent website, which features a lot of relevant information about the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. For a terrific live cam of the South Beach, click here.

I want to thank Pamela Bergman for her outstanding photos of Piedras Blancas.

This destination has accessible features; to review, click here.

Nearby Public Lands Worth Visiting

Hearst San Simeon State Park has nice hikes, good camping, and three preserves.

Hearst Castle, a California State Historic Monument, is moderately expensive to visit, but is quite memorable. Reservations can be made here.

Best Time To Visit

Spring, Winter, Fall, Summer (fewest)

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