Above the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, between San Simeon and Ragged Point, stands the Piedras Blancas Light Station. Built in 1875, the historic monument once warned mariners of the rugged, rocky coastline. Still in operation today, the Light Station now offers tours of the grounds year-round.
Piedras Blancas Light Station
The Light Station stands along the scenic Highway 1 as a Marine Reserve in the southernmost part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a California Coastal National Monument, Outstanding Natural Area and a historic park.
Hundreds of years ago, Point Piedras Blancas was home to Native Americans who used resources from both land and sea to thrive here. Later, mariners named it “Piedras Blancas” after the distinguishable white rocks they used to help them navigate the shoreline.
Construction of Piedras Blancas Light Station began in April 1874 to protect sea goers from the cliffs and to guide their travel along the Pacific Coast. The lighthouse was first illuminated on February 15, 1875, using a first order Fresnel lens – made in France by Henri Lapaute in 1872.
Today, you can embark on a 2-hour tour of the grounds and lighthouse. Tours take place year-round every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. During the summer season (June 15 through August 31), additional tours are available on Monday and Friday mornings.
The Historic Piedras Blancas Light Station
To sign up for a tour, purchase tickets online in advance or on the day of your preferred tour. Groups of 10 or more must purchase tickets in advance and notify the Piedras Blancas Light Station Association to ensure adequate guides.
Visitors meet the tour guides at the Piedras Blancas Motel, just north of the lighthouse for a scenic and short hike to the lighthouse. The tour lasts two hours and requires 1/2 mile of easy walking.
All tour guides are extremely knowledgeable, including academics, history buffs, naturalists and maritime enthusiasts. These experts lead visitors across the property, discussing the cultural and natural history of Piedras Blancas, telling stories, taking questions and identifying wildlife.
Tours of the Piedras Blancas Light Station occur year-round, with temperatures typically ranging from 48°F to 67°F depending on the time of year. The warmest, driest and clearest months for touring the lighthouse are September and October. But generally, conditions are cool and windy; layered clothing is a must. Wear comfortable walking shoes, as well as a hat for sun protection. Neither food nor drink is offered on the tour, but water bottles are encouraged.
Touring the Piedras Blancas Light Station
Videos of Piedras Blancas Light Station
Piedras Blancas Marine Life
The Piedras Blancas Marine Sanctuary boasts kelp forests, quiet beaches, elephant seal habitats and tidepools, all protected through the California Marine Life Protection Act of 1999. As a result, visitors to the Piedras Blancas Light Station have access to wildlife viewings and scenic vistas. Observe migrating whales, seabirds, California sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and tide pool marine life – all from the lighthouse grounds.
Piedras Blancas Point is best known for one of the most robust Northern Elephant Seal Rookeries in the world, with 25,000 seals gathering at the Point annually. The rookery is easily accessible, free and open to the public every day of the year. People from around the world flock to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery to see the second-largest seal in the world. Witness these majestic creatures as they mate, spar, birth and molt, from the roped-off viewing area that shows their lives, up close and personal.
Other San Simeon Attractions
Come see the elephant seals at the largest free viewing area in California.
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