COVID-19 Update-September 20, 2021

New Mandatory Guidelines for SLO County are now in place.  With the recent increase in COVID-19 transmission rates in SLO County, the SLO County Health Officer issued an order on August 31, 2021 for mandatory universal masking indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

Check here for all current restrictions in SLO County. 

Be aware that the Elephant Seal Viewing Area can be very crowded and you may not be able to physically distance from others.

A summary of our current status:

Visitor Center and Gift Shop NOW OPEN: The Friends of the Elephant Seal Visitor Center and Gift Shop is now OPEN to the public daily from 10 AM- 2PM. Your safety is our first priority. Face masks are required at all times in this indoor location.  We follow best practices for the retail sector for capacity limits, cleaning protocols and touchless service. The Visitor Center and Gift Shop is located in the Cavalier Plaza in San Simeon, 7.2 miles south of the Elephant Seal Viewing Area. Directions are available HERE.

Online Shopping: The Friends of the Elephant Seal Visitor Center and Gift Shop in San Simeon will continue to provide free local order pick-up from our Gift Shop and phone response from 10 AM-2 PM daily with some holiday exceptions. You are welcome to shop online and arrange for local pick-up or convenient shipping. Give us a call if you have a special request at (805) 924-1628.

Live Beach Cam and Social Media: You can rely on the Friends of the Elephant Seal and our live beachcam to keep you updated on the latest news from the rookery. We post frequently on our Facebook page as well.

Can I visit the Elephant Seal Viewing Area?

Guidance for Visitors:  Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is in Hearst San Simeon State Park. Please follow guidance offered by California State Parks.

State park day-use outdoor and parking areas are open, including the Elephant Seal Viewing area, 7.2 miles to the north of the Friends of the Elephant Seal Visitor Center and Gift Shop in San Simeon. Our all volunteer guides/docents (look for the blue jackets and vests) are looking forward to welcoming you and answering all of your questions.

**It is very difficult to physically distance in many parts of the Elephant Seal Viewing Area. Weekdays and early morning hours are typically less crowded. Please plan ahead to stay safe.

We appreciate your help with the following:

1. All existing Elephant seal viewing guidelines continue to apply – including no drones or wildlife disturbances. If you witness any disturbances to elephant seals, drone use or other incidents that cause concern, please call the State Park Rangers at 805-927-2068.
2. It you encounter seals or any marine wildlife on a public beach, please do not disturb, stay far away and be sure keep dogs on leash.
3. As always… pack in and pack out all trash.
4. Stay on the boardwalks and viewing platforms at the viewing areas.
5. There are no restrooms at the viewing area, so plan accordingly.

COVID-19 specific Visitor Guidelines from California State Parks


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Friends of the Elephant Seal is a 501(c) (3) non- profit corporation, relying on grants, sponsorships, memberships and your donations. Your charitable contribution supports our programs.

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Friends of the Elephant Seal is a cooperating association with California State Parks.

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