Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Elephant Seals and the Big Sur…

Hummer looking out over the Pacific Big Sur CA

Before leaving the Paso Robles area we took one other blog worthy trip to north on Highway 1 to the Big Sur area. The drive along this part of California’s coastline is one of the more scenic areas and we were blessed with clear blue skies. The main goal on this drive was to visit the Elephant Seals that come ashore for only a few months to breed, give birth and molt. They come to the same spot near Piedras Blancas Beach in the southern part of the Big Sur close to the town of San Simeon.

Big Sur CA    Big Sur CA

These beautiful creatures were thought to be extinct in the 1880’s and they were very nearly hunted to extinction (primarily for their oil-rich blubber). They have been making a strong comeback thanks to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Elephant seals are sexually dimorphic, that is the males are lot bigger than their lady partners. The ladies get to 9-12 feet in length and weigh up to 1800 pounds while the males grow up to 16 feet and weigh between 3000 to 5000 pounds.

Elephant Seal    young Elephant Seal flipping sand

We were not disappointed as the seals where lounging around on the beach in every size from very young to elder statesman. Listening to their guttural growls, grunts and bleats while watching them scoot along the sand to get to a better spot was very entertaining. They would use their flippers to throw sand on their backs to help them warm up after swimming in the cold Pacific waters. With faces only a mother could love they simply lounged around and enjoyed the warm sand. While watching the seals we even saw another large group of whales offshore but not anywhere near as close as those were that we saw at Avila Beach.

Elephant Seal - face only a mother could love Big Sur CA 028

To learn more about these large seals visit Friends of the Elephant Seal which is a non-profit organization “dedicated to educating people about elephant seals and other marine life and to teaching stewardship for the ocean off the central coast of California”.

Elephant Seal scooting up the sandElephant Seal lounging in the sand

The drive from Paso Robles south to Lake Elsinore was one of our longest travel days in some time as we drove 273 miles. The main reason we traveled so far was that I really wanted to get all the way around Los Angeles and have it in my rear view mirror. We took 46 east from Paso Robles and took the Interstate 5 south. As we approached LA the number of lanes on the highway went up to seven per side and the traffic increased. We took Interstate 210 to skirt to the north and east of LA and for the most part traffic wasn’t too bad, considering this is LA.

We pulled into a Passport America Park with 50 amps and full hookups all for the amazing rate of only $15.00. A great spot for us to recover for a few days before moving a few miles south today...


  1. Seals crack me up. They just look so frumpy and uncaring for anything going on around them.

  2. You're right, a face only a mother could love. But those elephant seals sure know how to relax and enjoy the beach. Enjoyed your pictures.

  3. $15 a day will balance off some of those more expensive stays :-)

  4. Gotta love those elephant seals. We had a horrible time finding a decent, reasonably priced, park in the L.A. area when visiting our daughter a couple of years ago. Where is this one :-)?

  5. I love watching seals (and sea lions - I don't know how to tell them apart). They seem to have the laziest lives. :)

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  7. Glad you had such a great day. I would love to see those elephants seals, hopefully sometime in the near future.

    Kevin and Ruth

  8. Amazing animals aren't they ... seeing the size differential, it makes one wonder how they survive the mating ritual.

  9. All the years I lived in CA and never made it to see the elephant seals.
    Wow, your $15 rate is amazing..

  10. Great shots of those amazing seals. Way to go in finding a PA park with such a good rate in So Cal. Is the park at Lake Elsinore?

  11. How did you manage to plan your trip so that you would be there when the elephant seals were there. That is GREAT planning. And then to find a $15 a night PPA in Southern Californida, you are my planning idol. I've always been a good planner but I'm not in your class. :-)

    Don't blame you at all for doing such a long day in order to put LA in your rear view mirror. I'm not sure I'd have the courage to do it at all. 273 would be a LOT for me. I thought 214 was way over my limit. LOL