2020 Seasonal Guided Elephant Seal Walks

Guided Elephant Seal Walks – Know Before You Go!

Hearst San Simeon State Park will offer guided seal walks, led by California State Park Staff! This unique viewing opportunity will allow visitors to enjoy the Northern Elephant Seals throughout the park.

* Elephant seal activities and population counts can vary widely through the guided walk season.

Elephant Seal

General Information

Guided walks begin the first weekend in January and continue every weekend until March 31st. Walks will be offered three times a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tour times are 9:00am, 10:30am and 12:30pm.

During the guided walk season, walks can be tailored for families, individuals, or groups. Children age 17 and under require one adult chaperone for each 10 children. Each walk has a capacity of 20 visitors. 

Tour will meet at one of the unique Hearst San Simeon State Park beaches 2.25 miles north of the Hearst Castle Entrance on HWY 1 (35°39'11.04"N, 121°13'18.83"W).  The trail to see the elephant seals includes a 1/2 mile guided trail walk. The elephant seal trail walk is considered easy with varied terrain. Please note: For safety reasons, viewing access is only permitted when accompanied by trained Park Staff.  

Time Needed:
Guided walks run 45 minutes from start to finish and operate Friday, Saturday, Sunday from early morning to mid-afternoon, rain or shine. Start times are 9:00am, 10:30am and 12:30pm.   Please arrive 10 minutes early to check in with proof of tour purchase (reservation receipt).

$13 fee for public walks. Children ages 5 and under are free.

What Should I Bring?
Elephant seal walks are conducted rain or shine. Winter weather can be very cold and windy, even on sunny days. Rain is frequent and the trail may be muddy with small puddles.

Visitors should bring hooded rain gear, a warm jacket, layered clothing, and sturdy walking shoes. Bring water for drinking on the trail. Cameras and photography are permitted. Although there are no restrictions on flashes, photographers are restricted to stay with the guided walk group and cannot leave. Binoculars are helpful for seeing seals further out on the beaches.

What Not To Bring
Umbrellas are not permitted on the seal trail.

Baby strollers are also not permitted in the rookery for safety reasons.  No food is allowed on the tour. Free picnic areas and parking are available at William R. Hearst Memorial Beach before or after the guided walk.

Restroom facilities are available at the William R. Hearst Memorial Beach. Parking is free.

How To Get Your Tickets:
Tour tickets are sold same day only, and are available on a first come, first serve basis. Fees will be collected at the meeting location, but may also be purchased at the Visitor Services Office: 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452.

Visitor Services Office
750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, CA 93452

Mom and Pup Seal

Additional viewing opportunities:
In addition to the tour, we recommend a visit to the Piedras Blancas Northern Elephant Seal Rookery Viewing Area, 4.5 miles north of Hearst Castle, open daily, free to all visitors, and featuring ADA access to all viewing boardwalks

For additional questions, please call the Visitor Services Office at (805) 927- 2010.