Ragged Point Visitor Guide

Gateway to Big Sur

Ragged Point Visitor Guide

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Ragged Point Visitors Guide

Ragged Point, with its ‘Million Dollar View’ is a landmark stop for travelers heading north to Big Sur or south to Hearst Castle along California’s iconic Highway 1 Discovery Route. Towering 400 feet above the Pacific Ocean, the view from the point reveals miles of deep blue ocean, waves crashing on remote beaches, and seasonal whale watching.

Must-See Spots in Ragged Point
Ragged Point Cliffside Trail – The trail to Ragged Point Beach at the base of the cliffs is only a half mile, but steep with about a 400 foot change in elevation. Salmon Creek Falls  is a natural waterfall found on the Big Sur Pacific Coast Highway 1 located 3 miles north of 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.


Average daily temps for Ragged Point are high-30s to low-60s in the winter, and mid-50s to high 70s in the summer. Morning fog is predictable and consistent, especially during the summer months. There is no distinct rainy season with about 18 inches falling every year on average.

Packing List

Though heavy arctic parkas will not be needed here, a warm coat or jacket and lots of layers for peeling away are recommended. If you visit the castle, weather conditions at sea level will sometimes be much different from what you’ll find at the top of the hill. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, binoculars, and a great book – or better yet, purchase one of the many biographies of Hearst at the gift shop.

Ragged Point is located just 15 miles north of San Simeon’s Hearst Castle, and is the gateway to Big Sur. Also just to the south lies the stunning natural beauty of San Simeon Cove; the enchantment of a hilltop castle – what a beautiful way to start the day! Less than an hour’s drive up Highway One from the city of San Luis Obispo lie two of best reasons to visit the Central Coast – both at the same spot: the sparkling seaside cove at San Simeon Point, and the hilltop house that Hearst built.

The cove has plenty of parking just left of the highway. The trail leading out to the point is a magical walk along a wooded path on the bluffs above the beach. Lacy moss dangles from the trees and a backward look for the point’s end reveals the sparkling cove and breathtaking views of rock formations carved by the sea. To the right of the highway lies the entrance to the castle, where tours of the famous castle, rich with art, exotic animals, and astonishing views happen daily. The very small town of San Simeon (population 443) sits on either side of Highway One, just about two miles south of the entrance to the castle. Hotels and restaurants dot the frontage roads on either side of the highway in this true “gateway” town to the Hearst Castle. Fishing, hiking, and bird-watching are favorite attractions here, with some of the best whale-watching on the Central Coast. These waters are also home to a sea otter preserve, a rookery for elephant seals, and just a couple of miles north, the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station.

San Simeon began to develop as a settlement in 1852 when a whaling station was established at the natural harbor at San Simeon Point. While today, the annual migration of the majestic Grey Whale is an inspiring and coveted observation, back then, they provided a living for the humans who hunted them. Around this industry, a community sprang up to support it, including a blacksmith shop, a bar, and a barbershop. The one-room schoolhouse their children attended has been preserved in its location near the Point, as has their general store, first built in 1860. Purchased by Manual Sebastian in 1914, this historic building that doubled as a post office, has been moved twice, for the last time in 1945. Today, it’s still open for business at the Point, and is still owned by members of the Sebastian family. Senator George Hearst built the wharf at San Simeon Cove that his son, William Randolph, would later use to receive the art and building materials shipped in from Europe for his castle. The warehouses he built to house these precious materials were designed by architect Julia Morgan in the Mission revival-style. They look more like mansions than warehouses and haven’t changed in 75 years. Impossibly romantic, rich with history, and given to outdoor excursions, this is a great place for couples, but may be not be the ideal choice for families with small children.

Ragged Point is located just 15 miles north of San Simeon’s Hearst Castle, and is the gateway to Big Sur. Here is where you can witness spectacular vistas to the Pacific Ocean, sea life includes whales, dolphins and elephant seals, and drive the most filmed scenic roadway in the world. Ragged Point is comprised of the privately owned Ragged Point Inn where travelers are welcomed with patio dining, a gas station, hotel, wedding facility, hiking trail. Plus you can take a break in one of the many well-placed lounge chairs, take in the view and enjoy an espresso from the coffee bar. Towering high above the Pacific Ocean atop 400 foot sheer cliffs, Ragged Point offers one of the finest ocean vistas in the world, often called the “Million Dollar View”. This is one of the few places as you enter Big Sur where you can enjoy a trail down the face of a cliff, to witness the largest waterfall in the area.

Getaway to ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments!

As you plan your rural road trip, add an hour or two of fun volunteer time to your day, or schedule a travel adventure to a natural, cultural or historic site. Whether you are an active doer, learner or donor there are plenty of dynamic opportunities to choose from:
Active Doers: Get involved, create unique memories, and engage with locals through beach cleanups that protect wildlife, and trail restoration to preserve natural habitats.
Active Learners: Expand your knowledge about eco systems, natural preserves, wildlife and the local heritage through citizen science programs, docent led hikes and historic tours.
Active Donors: Make a difference on vacation through charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitats, and cultural heritage sites.

Check out these Stewardship Travel Activities near Ragged Point:

Hearst Castle – San Simeon, State Historical Monument
Hands-On Citizen Science Programs at San Simeon Cove
Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay
San Simeon State Park & WR Hearst Memorial Beach Clean-Up
Elephant Seals
Elephant Seals Docent Talks
Piedras Blancas Light Station Historical Tours