Plan Your Visit

What can you expect at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Viewing Area?

The Elephant Seal Viewing Area provides boardwalks and viewing platforms that extend both north and south of the parking area. Rather than stopping at the first seals in sight, give yourself time to move around and take in the sights and sounds of the rookery. Take a look at the interpretive educational panels and pick up a free copy of the E-Seal News.

Binoculars are recommended for the best views. Similarly, be sure to use the telephoto lens on your camera or mobile phone for the best images and memories of your visit.

Our knowledgeable Friends of the Elephant Seal docents (guides) in royal blue will welcome you, answer your questions and invite you to return soon!

The viewing walkways at each end of the parking lot are part of the California Coastal Trail and are wheelchair accessible. There are also benches available at each viewing location.

The guidelines below are given for your comfort and safety and for the safety of the seals:

  • Park in the designated parking area.
  • Remain on the viewing walkways. The dunes and other bluff areas outside the fences or ropes are home to native plants and animals.
  • Elephant seals are protected by federal law. It is illegal to touch or throw things or cause a reaction from any marine mammal.
  • Watch quietly and keep your voice down. The seals can hear and see you and may be disturbed by your actions.
  • If you witness someone harassing a marine mammal, call 1-805-927-2068.
  • Dogs and seals do not mix. Keep dogs on a leash and well away from the seals.  Dogs may be frightened by the vocalizations of the seals. Return a barking dog to the car.
  • Do not feed the squirrels. Ground squirrels are wild animals, carriers of fleas and other vectors of disease, and occasionally they do bite.
  • Drones are not permitted.
  • Please view the National Marine Sanctuaries Marine Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Our Locations

Viewing Area

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery spreads out over 8 miles of beach, extending both north and south of Point Piedras Blancas, on the central coast of California. The Elephant Seal Viewing Area is located 90 miles south of Monterey, 4 miles north of Hearst Castle State Historical Monument in San Simeon and 1.5 miles south of Point Piedras Blancas.  Check your map program for “Elephant Seal Vista Point.”

The Elephant Seal Viewing Area is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.  Admission is free and no reservations are required. The wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms offer spectacular views, just above the seals.  Bring sure to bring your binoculars and telephoto lens.  The seals rest on the beaches both north AND south of the parking area.  The ocean and marine environment are protected by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and are part of California’s Marine Protected Area Network.

Elephant Seal Visitor Center

San Simeon

Our Elephant Seal Visitor Center is located 7.8 miles south of the viewing areas in the Plaza del Cavalier in San Simeon and is open daily 10 AM- 4 PM.  The Visitor Center offers a live-streaming video from our seal cams at the Piedras Blancas Rookery, informative exhibits, unique elephant seal gifts and more!  Friends of the Elephant Seal guides offer viewing tips and information to help you make the most of your visit to see the elephant seals.

Plaza del Cavalier | 250 San Simeon Avenue, Suite 5A | San Simeon, CA 93452 | (805) 924-1628 | Email: [email protected]

Visitor Etiquette

Visitor Guidelines

Keep Your Distance

Elephant seals are dangerous wild animals and are protected by law. Harassment and disturbance of elephant seals is prohibited by state and federal laws. The National Marine Fisheries Service, the Federal agency responsible for enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection Act, recommends a safe viewing distance of 50 to 100 feet. If seals are looking at you, you may be too close!

Look For Our Docents

Your Guide to the Elephant Seals

Friends of the Elephant Seal docents are volunteer guides who are happy to answer your questions and help you to better understand your observations at the Piedras Blancas rookery. Spend some time with the elephant seal experts in royal blue to make your visit even more memorable!

Drone Free Zone

Photographing the seals

Drone use is prohibited at the Piedras Blancas rookery. To photograph or record the elephant seals many people bring a large zoom lens to get the best close-up shots of these fascinating animals.

Our Corporate & Business Partners

We are grateful for the support of our business community. Their generosity makes it possible for The Friends of the Elephant Seal to offer free public education about the Piedras Blancas northern elephant seal colony and the surrounding marine life.  Each of our partners enable our volunteers to offer a unique experience for the 1 million visitors per year to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. We hope you will take some time to explore the area during your visit. 

And…we welcome new opportunities for corporate and business partnerships.  Join us!

Corporate Sponsor



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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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