Hearst San Simeon State Park
As State Parks increases access to the State Park System, it is critical that Californians continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.
Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for this park unit.
What is open now?
- Day Use Parking Lots
- San Simeon Creek and Washburn Campgrounds
What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
At this park:
- Coastal Discovery Center
- Hearst Castle
- Hearst Castle Visitor Center
- Some park units and campground sites continue to be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, impacts from wildfires or other issues. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination to find out if it is open.
- High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
- Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.
Are there any new visitor guidelines?
State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
- Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time.
- Plan Ahead:
- The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
- Learn what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
- SNO-PARKS: Make sure your vehicle is snow ready. A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day. Illegal parking is prohibited. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
- Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day.
- Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
- Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
- Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
- Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.
Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.
California State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.
- 2 vehicle maximuim per campsite. Trailers count as a vehicle.
- No Extra Vehicles and No Overflow Parking after the 2 Vehicle maximum per campsite.
- Dogs must be leashed in the campground. Dogs are prohibited on the beach and trails.
Hearst San Simeon State Park is one of the oldest units of the California State Park System. The coastal bluffs and promontories of the scenic park offer unobstructed views of the ocean and rocky shore. The park includes the Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve, the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve which were established in 1990.
A 3.3 mile trail runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Washburn Campground. The trail includes scenic overlooks, rest-stop benches and interpretive panels with information on wildlife and habitat. A portion of the trail along the seasonal wetland is wheelchair accessible.
- Santa Rosa Creek Preserve is an area which includes valuable riparian forests and coastal wetlands, that provide habitat for endangered Tidewater Goby.
- San Simeon Natural Preserve consists of vast wetlands, riparian areas, and several undisturbed native plant communities including unique mima mound topography. The Preserve is also the wintering site for monarch butterfly populations.
- The 13.7 acre Pa-nu Cultural Preserve contains the most significant archeological site within San Simeon State Park. The site has been dated to 5850 years before the present, and it contains significant evidence documenting prehistoric technology, subsistence practices and social organization over the course of several centuries.
A unique opportunity to view northern elephant seals is available at the Elephant Seal Boardwalk in Hearst San Simeon State Park. This vantage point provides an ideal location to view these marine mammals from a safe distance.
Located around Point Piedras Blancas, the elephant seal rookery extends along 6 miles of the shoreline. Elephant seals may be seen throughout the year. The largest populations and the most activity are during the months of late January, April and October. Although elephant seals spend most of their lives in the open ocean, they arrive at the rookery to give birth, breed, molt and rest from long migrations in the ocean in search of food.
The viewing areas are open to the public year round and are wheelchair accessible. Docents are on site to answer questions. No reservations are required and there is no fee. Restroom facilities are not available at this location. The nearest restrooms are 4 miles south of the viewing areas at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach.
Location - Directions
San Simeon State Park is located 35 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, and 5 miles south of the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument Visitor Center. The community of Cambria is located 2 miles to the South and offers gas stations and grocery stores.
San Simeon Creek Campground
The San Simeon Creek Campground offers 115 campsites for tent camping or recreational vehicles. The maximum length for an RV is 35 feet. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. There are currently flush toilets and shower facilities in place. Chemical toilets are available. A dump station and pay phone are available. Firewood is for sale from the campground host.
Recreational activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, surfing, beachcombing, bird watching and whale watching. The Junior Ranger Program is a regularly scheduled interpretive program for children. Interpretive walks of the San Simeon Trail may also be available.
This primitive campground is approximately 1 mile inland from the beach on a plateau overlooking the Santa Lucia mountains as well as the Pacific Ocean. Washburn campground can be accessed from the San Simeon Creek Campground entrance station. Facilities here include a fire ring and picnic table at each campsite, in addition a shower facilities is available to registered campers.
- ARAMARK Sports & Entertainment (Restaurant, catering & retail services)
- Hearst Ranch Beef (Hearst Ranch beef sales)
- Destination Cinema, Inc. (Hearst Castle Theater)
Junior Ranger Program
This is a special program for kids that provides the chance to partake in a variety of fun and educational nature-oriented activities at Hearst San Simeon State Park. Parents should bring their kids to the Campfire Center at the San Simeon Creek Campground for fun regularly scheduled programs about the Central Coast.