Piedras Blancas Light

Piedras Blancas Light Station is a lighthouse on Point Piedras Blancas, about five and half miles (9 km) west by NW of San Simeon, California.


The first-order Fresnel lens on the 105-foot 10½-inch Piedras Blancas Lighthouse (pronounced: PEE-dras BLAN-kas ?) was first illuminated in 1875. On December 31, 1948 and January 1, 1949 three magnitude 3.8 to 4.6 earthquakes centered 6 miles (9.7 km) off the point damaged the lantern room. The lens, lantern room, ornate railing, and the upper portion of the tower were removed, reducing the height of the tower to 74 feet (23 m). The lens is now on display in the nearby community of Cambria. The United States Lighthouse Establishment first staffed the site. The United States Coast Guard staffed the light station until 1975 when the tower was automated and the station unmanned. The Bureau of Land Management acquired the site in 2001.

Current status

The light is an active aid to navigation; however, the sound signal has been silenced. The site is currently maintained by the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. Guided tours of the 19-acre (77,000 m2) restricted site are available every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (except Federal holidays) for a fee ($10.00 for adults; $5 for ages 6--17; free for ages 5 and under). Visitors experience early coastal history, early state history, maritime history, marine mammals, native coastal plants, native coastal animals, and native coastal insects in the BLM designated Outstanding Natural Area.

Pinniped colony

The largest elephant seal rookery on the West Coast is located just south of the lighthouse. The fenced-in viewing vista is located just off of California Highway 1 and is open year-round.

Image gallery
  • Lighthouse before removal of lantern house and watchroom.

  • Light station, showing tower without lantern room.

  • Coastal scene with Piedras Blancas Light Station in the background.

  • Light tower entrance

  • Lighthouse interior with spiral staircase and landings.

  • Approach road to the light station.

Building Activity

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