Monday, December 15, 2014

Piedras Blancas Light Station

I am fascinated by lighthouses and the lives of lighthouse keepers and their families during the days when civilization was many hours away from most lighthouses.  Plus the views are usually beautiful.  As a result, I try to visit lighthouses whenever I am near them.  

On my recent trip to the Hearst Castle I was able to include the tour of Piedras Blancas Light Station, located about 10 minutes north of the town of San Simeon.  The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse opened in 1875.  Originally 100 feet tall, the tower was damaged in an earthquake and the top 30 feet were removed in 1949.  Now the tower has a truncated look.  The Piedras Blancas Light Station Association has a long-term goal to restore the tower to its original appearance.  Piedras Blancas is known as a light station because the families of the keepers lived on site in nearby buildings.

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

Pacific Coast from Piedras Blancas
Piedras Blancas Fog Signal Building

Access to the Light Station is only by tour.  As of this writing, tours are offered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 9:45 a.m.  Check the website for the current schedule.  I think two hours is a bit too long for a walking tour, especially if you have children with you.  Our guide was very enthusiastic but stretched our tour to a mind-numbing 2.5 hours.  He spent far more time discussing the natural habitat and only about 30 minutes on the lighthouse.  Plus we visited the lighthouse at the very end of the tour when we had little capacity to absorb more information.  The other groups touring during our visit were long gone by the time we drove away, so other guides must have stuck to the schedule a little better than ours.

If you are a lighthouse enthusiast, you'll want to visit Piedras Blancas.  For those with a casual interest, there are other lighthouses in Northern California that I believe offer more interesting experiences.  For more information on visiting lighthouses in Northern California, see "Rick's Tips" numbers 35 and 36

If you would like to take a private tour from San Francisco that includes a visit to the Piedras Blancas Light Station, the Hearst Castle, and other coastal attractions, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at or (866) 326-4237 (toll free).

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