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See The Castle & Critters of Hearst San Simeon State Park

Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.

Hearst San Simeon State Park is located in San Luis Obispo County on California’s Central Coast between the popular destinations of Big Sur and Morro Bay. One of the earliest California State Parks, its grounds include both the San Simeon and Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserves, the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve, and of course, the famous Hearst Castle. What’s more, the park is teeming with an abundance of sea life, especially elephant seals.

Along with its 3 preserves, Hearst San Simeon is also considered part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federally protected tract of Pacific Ocean that stretches from the San Francisco Bay Area all the way down to Cambria’s Moonstone Beach. Just so, visitors to the area can expect to enjoy some of the most scenic opportunities California’s coast has to offer. Whether you’re camping at the park, or just dropping in for the afternoon, we hope the following information makes your trip one to remember!

Things to Do in Hearst San Simeon State Park

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Even though Hearst San Simeon is relatively small for a state park, there’s a ton to do there. Consider some of these following options:

Hearst Castle: This historic monument is the park’s primary draw. Along with the castle, there is also a visitor center. If you’re gunning for either, be sure to check online before heading out, as the castle and center have somewhat erratic hours and closures.

Aquatic Recreation: Swimming, surfing, boating, fishing snorkeling ? you name it, Hearst San Simeon has it! Whether you’re kayaking Van Gordon Creek, or boogie boarding on William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach, the park is your best wet bet south of the San Simeon Bay area.

Hiking Trails: The park has a small collection of trails that meander through wetlands and other features of the Santa Lucia Mountains. At low tide, you can enjoy walks among majestic tidepools.

Picnicking: For those spending the night and accessing the park’s day-use areas, Hearst San Simeon is a great place to enjoy a scenic bite. It has both picnic tables, running water, and restrooms.

Junior Ranger Program: Taking a page from the National Park Service’s playbook, the Hearst San Simeon hosts an interpretive program for youth. For more information, be sure to visit the park’s website.

Are the Elephant Seals in San Simeon?

As if a castle and several nature preserves weren’t enough, this section of California coast is swarming with elephant seals! In addition to Hearst San Simeon’s Elephant Seal Boardwalk, you can also visit the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery just north of the state park off of Highway 1.

State Park Campgrounds

The park has two sites to choose from, each of which offer campers various amenities. To book an overnight stay, visit the reservecalifornia.com website. Your options are as follows:

San Simeon Creek Campground: The facilities at this site include full hookups for motorhomes and trailers, alongside other modern conveniences like flush toilets, payphones, and a dump station. Its campground hosts have firewood for sale, so please don’t burn outside wood in your fire pit.

Washburn Campground: The Washburn primitive campground is about 1 mile from the beachfront and lacks any sort of hookups, making it a great destination for those who want a more rustic experience. Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table, but you’ll have to head over to the other campground for water spigots.

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READ MORE: Camping California’s Central Coast: The Best Spots to Pitch a Tent on the Pacific

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