SAN SIMEON — Guided northern elephant seal tours at Hearst San Simeon State Park begin this month. What better way to ring in the New Year than to experience an educational tour of the area’s most charismatic megafauna guided by knowledgeable State Park interpreters.

While on the tour, people will have the opportunity to learn about the elephant seal lifecycle while overlooking battling bulls, birthing cows, and cackling pups.

Tours begin the first weekend of January and run through the end of March. California State Parks staff will be onsite to greet tour-goers at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

For safety reasons, viewing access is only permitted when accompanied by trained Park staff during the tour. Tours will meet 2.25 miles north of

the Hearst Castle entrance on the oceanside of Highway 1. The tour to see the elephant seals includes a 45 minute, 1/2 mile guided trail walk, and is considered easy with varied terrain. Tickets are $13 per person and onsite parking is free. Tickets are available for purchase on the day of the tour only at the meeting location mentioned above, or at the Hearst Castle Visitor Services Office, 750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon.

In addition to the tour, State Park staff recommends a visit to the Piedras Blancas Northern Elephant Seal Rookery Viewing Area, 4.5 miles north of Hearst Castle on Highway 1. It is open daily and is free to all visitors. It has ADA access to all viewing boardwalks.

Visit the park webpage at parks.ca.gov/HearstSanSimeonSP, for more information and to check out the Piedras Blancas Seal Cam.

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