A large colony of elephant seals (at last count 15,000 members) gathers every year at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, on the beaches near Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. The huge males with their pendulous, trunklike noses typically start appearing on shore in late November, and the females begin to arrive in December to give birth—most babies are born in the last two weeks of January. The newborn pups spend about four weeks nursing before their mothers head out to
sea, leaving them on their own; the "weaners" leave the rookery when they are about 3½ months old. The seals return in the spring and summer months to molt or rest, but not en masse as in winter. You can watch them from a boardwalk along the bluffs just a few feet above the beach; do not attempt to approach them, as they are wild animals. The nonprofit Friends of the Elephant Seal runs a small visitor center and gift shop at 250 San Simeon Avenue in San Simeon.
Off Hwy. 1, 4½ miles north of Hearst Castle, just south of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, San Simeon, California, 93452, United States
Mar 7, 2014
Enjoyed a wonderful trip to see all the seals in December. Located off Hwy One, there's a huge parking lot which is free of charge. Simply park and walk a minute or two to the main overlook which looks down on all the mammals. I arrived about 4 p.m. and took some beautiful photos right up until sunset. The weather is unpredictable, so fortunately I had a jacket to stay warm. Highly recommended and an easy way to kill an hour or two while traveling.
-- Grandkin Studios Fine Art.