Piedras Blancas Light House

Piedras Blancas Light House
Light Station Open to Limited Public Tours call the Information line at: 1- 888 - 804 - 8608
Piedras Blancas is located on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon. The point is named for the three white rocks located just off the end of the point. In the early 1870's, this location was chosen to fill the gap between the lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Pinos.

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse , California at

California State Parks
The California State Park's very best is represented by their locations in and around San Simeon . From W.R. Memorial State Beach and San Simeon State Park to the Elephant Seals and Hearst Castle itself, some of the finest parks and campgrounds in California are located within a short distance from the feature attraction.
Visit California State Parks Website

Elephant Seals
It all began on November 25, 1990 when less than two dozen elephant seals were counted in the small cove just south of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. Spring of 1991 brought almost 400 seals to molt. In January of 1992 the first birth occurred. The colony grew at a phenomenal rate.
Visit Elephant Seals Website

National Geographic Theater
National Geographic Theater at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center is a 5-Story screen theater showing the resident film “Hearst Castle, Building the Dream” as the companion film to Castle Tours.

Visit National Geographic Theater Website

Hearst San Simeon SP State Park
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.

Location - Directions
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 and offers gas stations and grocery stores.
San Simeon, CA - Latitude/Longitude: 35.6438 / -121.1897

San Simeon Creek Campground
The San Simeon Creek Campground offers 115 campsites for tent camping or recreational vehicles. The maximum length for a RV is 35 feet. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. Water spigots are available throughout the campground. Restrooms with flush toilets and coin operated showers, a dump station and water fill-up for RV's, and pay phones are also available. Firewood is for sale from the campground host.
Recreational activities include 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
This primitive campground is approximately 1 mile inland from the beach on a plateau overlooking the Santa Lucia mountains as well as the Pacific Ocean. Washburn campground can be accessed from the San Simeon Creek Campground entrance station. Facilities here 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.

Junior Ranger Program
This is a special program for kids that provides the chance to partake in a variety of fun and educational nature-oriented activities at San Simeon State Park. Parents should bring their kids to the Campfire Center at the San Simeon Creek Campground for fun regularly scheduled programs about the Central Coast.

San Simeon Creek Trail

What's there to see in San Simeon besides the castle? It's a common question asked by thousands of travelers on their way to Hearst Castle.
The answer is found at San Simeon State Park, which boasts a diversity of scenery from shoreline to Monterey pine forest. A new trail, complete with interpretive displays, a boardwalk that crosses a wetland, and numerous benches that offer a place to rest and observe the tranquil surroundings. The pathway circles the park's San Simeon Creek and Washburn campgrounds. About 0.25 mile of the path is wheelchair accessible.

Back in the 1880s, the park's 500 acres of backcountry were part of Ira Whittaker's ranch and dairy operation. Eucalyptus was planted, both as a windbreak and for firewood to fuel the dairy's boiler to make cheese.

Botanical highlight is a stand of Monterey pine, part of the famed Cambria pines, and one of only four native groves left on earth. In winter, monarch butterflies, more often seen on the Central Coast in eucalyptus trees and other nonnative flora, cluster in the park's Monterey pines.

San Simeon Creek is habitat for the endangered red-legged frog and Western pond turtle. Many migratory birds can be counted at the park's seasonal wetland: cinnamon teal, mallards, egrets and herons.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 1, just south of the turnoff for San Simeon Creek Campground, turn inland and park at Washburn day-use area. Walk inland along the service road to the signed trailhead on your right. Campers can walk to the trailhead—just west of San Simeon Creek bridge—along the campground road.

The hike: The path tours the eastern fringe of the seasonal wetland and soon reaches a boardwalk that leads across it from one viewing area to another. Beyond the boardwalk the trail junctions. The right fork leads southwest 0.2 mile to the Moonstone Gardens restaurant and Highway 1. Along this side trail, Eagle-eyed hikers might get a glimpse of Hearst Castle located five miles north.

The main trail climbs onto a flat-topped, Monterey pine-dotted ridge. A sometimes overgrown path detours left (north) two hundred yards to a scenic overlook.

Our route descends from the pines into lush riparian area and turns north. A boardwalk crosses a boggy lowland filled with willow, cottonwood and a thick understory of wax myrtle and blackberry bushes.

The path next ascends grassy slopes along the eastern boundary of the park. From the former grazing land, you look out over a scene from the California of a century ago: a windmill, pastoral slopes dotted with cows, the unspoiled beauty of the southern Santa Lucia Mountains.

The trail skirts the edge of the campground, then leads west. Savor the mountain vistas as the path heads southwest on the bluffs above San Simeon Creek.

About a quarter mile from its end the trail splits. The path you've been following continues above San Simeon Creek back to the day use area. A second branch crosses the campground road and leads toward the wetland boardwalk, where you turn right and retrace the first five minutes of your walk back to the trailhead.

Upcoming San Simeon Events & Activities (as well as nearby Cambria)

San Simeon, California is just a few minutes north of Cambria on the California Highway 1 near the northern boundary of San Luis Obispo County. It offers visitors a stunning setting on the ocean just south of Big Sur, with outdoor activities galore to contrast with the amazing opulence of the Hearst Castle.

San Simeon hotels, motels, and restaurants and hotels next to Hearst Castle are the closest accommodations you will find for your Hearst Castle adventure. If you prefer to camp by tent or RV, San Simeon State Park has 134 sites just a little south of the town. From either location it is easy to find hiking or biking trails.

For a dip into history, the original Sebastian's General Store is still operating as a gift shop. A family picnic is the perfect way to enjoy the William R. Hearst Memorial State Beach. For strolling and fishing, the 1,000 foot pier is still one of the best around.

San Simeon, California and Hearst Castle are unique in California or American history. You can imagine the steamers docking at the pier to unload the building materials and treasures you will find at Hearst Castle. Plan your next visit to San Simeon  CA and Hearst Castle with our Online Travel Guide .

Click on the links below for a list of San Simeon  CA hotels, hotels near Hearst Castle, businesses, events and attractions, including dates of events to help you plan your next visit.

Hearst Castle

San Simeon California Chamber of Commerce

Cambria California Chamber of Commerce (serves same area)

More about San Simeon, California
Founded: 1852

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach is one of Cambria's and the Central Coast's scenic spots. Romantic, uncrowded, unspoiled and close to Hearst Castle, you can watch the elephant seals, migrating whales, shop in Cambria, dine, sample wines and have a lovely time.Moonstone Beach is Cambria's best opportunity for a vacation or getaway with hotel rooms or suites offering ocean views. Scenic walks, sunsets, sandy beaches, interesting rocks, seagulls and the constant waves crashing in misty motion, you'll fall in love with Moonstone Beach. Or maybe you'll fall in love with someone at Moonstone Beach, the romantic place.

Cambria Historic Downtown, Cambria, CA

What's in a Name?

It took almost a decade for Cambria to settle on a name. In 1869, after going by Slabtown, Rosaville, San Simeon and Santa Rosa, the name Cambria was officially adopted. An amusing controversy continues over the correct pronunciation of Cambria. Visitors and newcomers usually call it Came-bria, while most residents agree on Camm-bria.

Cambria Through the Years

Cambria was settled in the early 1860s, with the town's center located in what is now East Village. By the 1880s Cambria was the second largest town in the county, with an active center of shipping, mining, dairy farming, logging, and ranching. In 1894, railroad lines were extended into the San Luis Obispo from the south, resulting in the decline of coastal shipping and the isolation of Cambria. It was more than a quarter century before the first improved road to Cambria was completed. In 1927, the Cambria Pines Lodge was built and a large tract of land called Cambria Pines was subdivided into small residential lots. Today tourism is the town's main industry.

Cambria traditions include the 4th of July picnic and fireworks display at Shamel Park and Pinedorado, the annual Labor Day weekend parade and fair, which originated in 1948 and draws tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Historic Tour Click Here to Begin The Historic Tour!

From the intersection of Main and Bridge Streets, in any direction, there are old buildings which tell the tale of Cambria's past:

Sunday Special
Start your stay on Sunday and get 20% off. 15% off on additional weekdays and higher rates on weekends.

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