The Friends of the Elephant Seal welcomes thousands of children every year to participate in our school groups program at the Piedras Blancas Rookery. Schools, scouts, community programs or other organizations serving children are eligible to schedule this program. A group of specially trained School Group Docents will greet you and introduce your students to the extraordinary life on land, and at sea, of the northern elephant seal. Our primary focus is to interpret for the students what they are observing in the rookery. We strive to incorporate the California Life Science Standards into our program.
Guidelines for planning your school visit:
The School Group Program is designed for children in grade 3 and above.
Please give us at least 5 weeks before your field trip so that we can coordinate your visit.
Plan for at least a one hour program.
The School Group Program is available Tuesday through Saturday, September to June.
When you submit your request for a visit (below), a docent will contact you to confirm the scheduled date and time.
Shortly before your visit a docent will call to update you on the conditions at the viewing areas, and confirm your arrival time and number of students.
We require that at a minimum you provide 1 chaperone for every 10 children in your group.
Unfortunately there are no restrooms at the viewing area. We recommend that on your way to the rookery, you visit the Washburn Day Use Area located a mile north of Cambria on the right just before the sign to San Simeon State Park. After visiting the elephant seals, we recommend stopping at the W. R. Hearst State Beach, located 4.7 miles south on Highway One, across from the Hearst Castle entrance. It has a large grassy area, restrooms, drinking fountain, and picnic tables. You may wish to arrange a visit to the Coastal Discovery Center (805 927-2145) which is located there.
The wind is usually calm in the morning and gusty in the afternoon; temperatures are often cool. You can check current weather conditions here.
Don't forget warm, layered clothing including hats and sunscreen.
Visit the LiveCam for a preview of your visit. Go to Locations for travel instructions.
Please read all guidelines before contacting the School Group Coordinator
Viewing Rules and Recommendations
The viewing walkways at each end of the parking lot are part of the California Coastal Trail and are wheelchair accessible. The guidelines below are given for your comfort and safety and for the safety of the seals:
Park in the designated parking area.
Remain on the viewing walkways. The dunes and other bluff areas outside the fences or ropes are home to native plants and animals.
Elephant seals are protected by federal law. It is illegal to touch or throw things orcause a reaction from any marine mammal. If you witness someone harassing a marine mammal, call 1-805-927-2068.
Dogs and seals do not mix. Keep dogs on a leash and well away from the seals.
Do not feed the squirrels. Ground squirrels are wild animals, carriers of fleas and other vectors of disease, and occasionally they do bite.