The Open Road to San Simeon & Ragged Point
Roads to San Simeon and Ragged Point along the North Coast of the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route are open. Here you will discover waterfalls, zebras, pristine beaches, Elephant seals, historic monuments, wine tasting and a castle!
In San Simeon and Ragged Point, tourism is largely unaffected by the highly-publicized mudslide miles north in Monterey County. Roaming the San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) roads to Ragged Point and San Simeon, eye-popping vacation adventures will fill your bucket list. If you’ve always wanted to see the zebras in the wild, visit an enchanted castle or photograph exotic wildlife along a rugged coastline, forget the jet lag! Because you’re a short drive away from enjoying it all.
When you hear San Simeon, the first thing that comes to mind often is the iconic Hearst Castle. But the media mogul William Randolph Hearst chose this locale because of the impressive natural surroundings which are still pristine and vibrant as ever. There is a lot to do and many places to stay.
Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, known throughout the world as Hearst Castle, is the home of the late William Randolph Hearst. This majestic structure, La Cuesta Encantada, “The Enchanted Hill” has a magnificent 115–room main house, guesthouses, pools, eight acres of cultivated gardens, and a world class art collection. The Castle overlooks the Pacific Ocean and coastal cliffs and beaches from its perch in the Santa Lucia mountain range 1600 feet above. Visitors can still find Elk and wild zebras roaming freely over the hillsides as though they were part of the original zoo at the castle from back in the 1930s.
doesn’t sound real but it is! Traveling the winding ranch road to Hearst Castle, guests once passed through fenced fields populated with many species of exotic wild animals freely roaming over the hillsides as though they were native to this land. It was an amazing sight, featuring an ever-changing collection of animals—like American bison, Rocky Mountain elk and zebras. Today, zebras can still be seen grazing along Highway 1 north of Cambria up to the Castle. Keep your eyes open and Cameras ready!
Hearst Ranch Winery is the most Northern location of the Pacific Coast Wine Trail and is located in the historic Sebastian Brother’s General Store in Old San Simeon Village. Built in 1852 at the peak of the whaling industry, the Sebastian Brothers provided goods and services to whalers, fishermen, miners and neighboring ranches. San Simeon Bay was the significant shipping point for barrels of whale oil, cheese, butter and other commodities on the Central Coast. Today, Hearst Ranch Winery hand harvests grapes to produce bold and balanced Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and Late Harvest Zinfandel as well as several Rhone Varietals.
Piedras Blancas Light Station has been congressionally designated an Outstanding Natural Area. Go back in time to the lonely and blustery life of the lighthouse keeper with a visit to the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. First lit on February 15, 1875, to guide ships along the Central Coast of California, the 100-foot-high lighthouse operated for 100 years. In 1975, the tower was automated and the station went unmanned. In the fall of 2001, the Bureau of Land Management began restoring the light station and grounds.Teeming with wildlife, the surrounding area is home to elephant seals, otters, peregrine falcons, harbor seals and California sea lions; and if you go during whale season you might spot a mother and calf as they make their way north.
The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is where the beautiful northern elephant seals migrate thousands of miles twice each year from the open ocean to this land-based rookery for breeding, birthing, molting, and resting between trips. The Piedras Blancas rookery is located on Highway 1 north of San Simeon, and is home to about 15,000 animals. These mammals can grow up to over 2,000 lbs and are an incredible site to see roaming the beaches. Visitors can learn more about stewardship for the great northern elephant seals from the Friends of the Elephant Seals docents who are on site daily from 10 – 4 pm.
Boucher Trail at Piedras Blancas runs from the paved elephant seal viewing parking for 1.9 miles, to a half mile north of the Piedras Blancas Light Station. It offers spectacular scenic vistas of the coastline and opportunities for wildlife viewing. The trail includes coastal bluff, grassland, and wetland areas, making it interesting and varied.
The Coastal Discovery Center located in San Simeon offers interactive exhibits and education programs for all ages, highlighting the cultural and natural history of Old San Simeon, California State Parks, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Coastal Discovery Center celebrates the connection between land and seas, offering interactive exhibits and education programs. Protection of these special places preserves them for use and enjoyment for generations to come. This H1DR Stewardship Travel opportunity invites guests to gain a deeper connection on vacation through activities and charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitat, and cultural heritage sites.
Ragged Point is dubbed the “Million Dollar View,” and for good reason. Towering 400 feet above the Pacific Ocean, the view from Ragged Point reveals miles of deep-blue ocean, and waves crashing on remote and pristine beaches. Ragged Point offers lodging, food and great selfie spots!
Ragged Point Cliffside Trail and Waterfall offers such epic vistas, hiking it is a must. This trail to Ragged Point Beach at the base of the cliffs is only a half mile, but steep with about a 400-foot drop in elevation, and filled with breathtaking panoramas. It’s one of the few places where you can take a trail down the face of a cliff, to witness the largest waterfall in the area. Views of the beach below are incredible, as are the ever-changing views of the cliffs to the north. The beach is rather exotic with the black sand, a common phenomenon on this section of the coast. The view of the cliffs is all the more imposing looking up from the beach below.
Salmon Creek Falls is a natural waterfall found on the Big Sur Pacific Coast Highway 1, located three miles north of the Ragged Point Inn. Like many Big Sur waterfalls, the 120-foot Salmon Creek Falls is a short, easy hike and can be seen from the highway and considered one of the most beautiful waterfall found on the Big Sur Pacific Coast Highway 1.
San Simeon and Ragged Point Must-See Rural Road Trip Map: Here is a Must-See map that makes it easy to navigate these local favorites by car.