COVID 19 Update-April 1, 2021

San Luis Obispo County is in the Red Tier- Substantial.  The current restrictions requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all public spaces. Check here for all current restrictions.

While current restrictions encourage Californians to stay home as much as possible, the state also recognizes that mental health is physical health. As such, recreation in the outdoors is permitted, if you stay local, plan ahead to find out what is open, wear a face covering, practice physical distancing and avoid gatherings with people outside the immediate household.

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. Masks are required at all times. 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: The Red Tier provides for local outdoor activity in the California State Parks. Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is in Hearst San Simeon State Park.

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 docents are not yet available to welcome visitors at the elephant seal viewing site and will return as soon as it is determined safe to do so.

**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-observe all state COVID-specific requirements for activities in public, including masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene.

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-specific Guidelines from California State Parks

Please take all protective measures to be safe:

* Stay Local – Stay close to home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do not travel if you or someone in your household is sick.

* Plan Ahead – The COVID-19 pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of the park unit you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.

* Stay Safer at 6 feet — No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.

* Keep Clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. in some cases, restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.

* Stay Covered – The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times. For details, please visit


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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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