Visiting the elephant sealumber party at the Piedras Blancas Rookery

picture of elephant seals laying on a beach with the ocean in the top right corner and blue sky above it and a bird flying overhead

California's coast is lined with many special beaches, and one of the best ones I've visited is in San Simeon, home to the Piedras Blancas Rookery where elephant seals make their annual mating pilgrimage. 

In 2015, Peter and I drove up the coast to celebrate Thanksgiving at a campground in Big Sur – Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. During our drive home at the end of the weekend, we stopped to view the the rookery of elephant seals napping on the beach before touring Hearst Castle.

elephant seals of all ages lay on a beach
According to San Simeon's website, "the Piedras Blancas Rookery is the only elephant seal rookery
in the world that is easily accessible, free, and open to the public." 

elephant seals of all ages lay on a beach with the ocean visible in the top section of the image
Throughout the year there are three peak seasons to view the seals (January, April and October),
and at the height of the season there can be up to 17,000 seals on the beach. 

two male elephant seals on a beach are preparing to face off in a fight against one another while waves crash on the shore and rocks at the top of the frame
Two male elephant seals prepare to fight one another.

All photos by Lauren J. Mapp


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