Don’t miss the new two-hour Julia Morgan tour
—After being closed for more than two years due to the COViD-19 pandemic followed by a severely storm-damaged road, Hearst Castle is open for visitors. The closure was the longest continuous closure since it opened to the public in 1958.
The castle closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and that closure was extended by storm damage. In April 2021, state park officials announced the discovery of several sinkholes affecting a 2.25-mile stretch of road leading up to the castle. The damage was the result of a January 2021 storm that dumped over 20 inches of rain in the area, also washing out part of Highway One. The damage to the road delayed the reopening of Hearst Castle for several months.
The May 11 opening was greeted with the new two-hour Julia Morgan tour, taking an in-depth look at the life and career of this extraordinary woman as well as tours of rarely seen areas of Hearst Castle. Morgan, the architect of Hearst Castle, the Hearst San Simeon property and other Hearst properties, was the first certified female architect in California and the first woman to head her own architectural firm. As one of America’s preeminent architects, her designs graced private homes, college campuses, women’s clubs and religious buildings. This new tour highlights Morgan’s gift for design and includes photographic displays of architectural drawings, family photos and personal items.
Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst worked together for 28 years on the castle and other Hearst properties. Hearst started building the fabulous estate on family ranchland overlooking the village of San Simeon in 1919. He called the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” – Spanish for The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, the hilltop complex included the iconic twin-towered main building, three guesthouses frequently occupied by Hollywood’s famous, and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools. The castle was donated to the State of California in 1957 and managed by the California State Parks System. The doors first opened to the public in 1958. The castle sees over 850,000 visitors from all over the world every year.
Other changes with the reopening include a temporary halt to personal, unguided tours of the gardens and changes to fees.
Previously, visitors were allowed to tour the gardens on their own at the end of the guided tour. Instead, visitors will now return directly to the bus at the end of the guided tour. The staff hopes this is a temporary change and that personal garden tours will return as soon as possible.
Ticket prices have changed for the three main tours, but extra fees that were formerly applied to ticket purchases have been incorporated into the cost, resulting in an overall cost reduction. Some special program and tour ticket prices remain the same but those prices also incorporate the fees. Advanced ticket purchases and reservations are strongly recommended.
Hearst Castle is located on Highway 1 above the village of San Simeon, a four-hour drive from either Los Angeles or San Francisco. Reservations are strongly encouraged. For directions, more information about the tours and to make reservations visit hearstcastle.org or call (800) 444-4445.