Piedras Blancas

Piedras Blancas


North of San Simeon, along Hwy. 1, lies a wild, desolate coast that is home to Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, a huge elephant seal rookery and eventually Ragged Point and big Sur. The historic lighthouse is not open to visitors. Although the light station has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, donations are being sought to restore the main tower and restore or replace the light station residences and support buildings. The original lighthouse lens was removed over 60 years ago, due to storm damage in 1949. It can now be viewed in Cambria in a glass kiosk in the west village on Main Street, next to the Vets’ Hall, in front of the Pinedorado show grounds.

The elephant seal rookery is not to be missed, especially in springtime when the huge bull elephant seals, or “beach masters,” fight for the right to mate with hundreds of female elephant seals. When the big bulls rise up over six feet high to butt and slash at each other with their tusks, the noise can be deafening. Everywhere the huge mammals lie like giant slugs using their flippers to cover themselves with beach sand to avoid sun burning. The calves suckle at their mothers’ breasts and sometimes are knocked over by the huge adults. Amazingly, they are resilient and seem to be unaffected after a collision with these giants. Volunteer docents are on duty to answer questions. Visitors used to be able to walk among the huge beasts but now they are protected behind the fences that run along the perimeter of the beach. Watch the road on the way up and back because sometimes the behemoths find their way to the inland side of Hwy 1.

If you are so inclined and you have the time, take Highway 1 farther north up the coast to Ragged Point, which lies at the southern end of famous Big Sur. There are incredible views from the cliffs around the Ragged Point Inn which has a gas station, gift shop and great restaurant. Buy gas before you get to Ragged Point because gas prices are $1.00 or more per gallon than a few miles south.




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