Perhaps the most-viewed national monument in the United States, the California Coastal National Monument protects 1,000 acres (4 sq km) of California’s offshore rocks and islands as well as the public land of six onshore areas, one of which is Piedras Blancas, located on the north coast of San Luis Obispo County.
Named for the landmark white rocks that helped explorers and traders navigate California’s Central Coast, Piedras Blancas is a significantly important place to Native Americans. It is also home to the Piedras Blancas Light Station, whose tower and outbuildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (Guided tours are available.) Created in 2000, and expanded in 2014 and 2017, the California Coastal National Monument ensures the protection of California’s diverse coastal wildlife, including marine birds and mammals, such as sea otters, sea lions and the herds of elephant seals that habitat near Piedras Blancas for mating and birthing each year, as well as the region’s 70+ native plant species.