COVID-19 Response

Following guidance from the California Department of Public Health and local public health authorities, we are increasing public access and services in a phased approach at Hearst Castle®/Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument®. Before visiting, please review the COVID-19/FAQ tab on the home page. There you will find information and frequently asked questions regarding your trip to Hearst Castle. Updates about the overall Department of Parks and Recreation response to COVID-19, including safety information, are posted on parks.ca.gov. For more information from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department click readyslo.org

Hearst Castle tours and the Visitor Center is currently closed. When we reopen, advanced reservations will be required to visit Hearst Castle and/or the Visitor Center

Many of Mr. Hearst’s guests at the ranch began their visits from the same spot that today’s visitors do. The original airport/airstrip was located where the current Visitor’s Center is today. The building that houses the ticket office and snack bar is where the hangar was. In addition to the actors, politicians and other influential members of society who were flown in for parties, Mr. Hearst used the airstrip to have every one of his newspapers delivered to him for his review and critique.

Originally there were two “L”- shaped runways, one with east-west orientation and the other with a north-south orientation. Thanks to this positioning, pilots could use either of the runways during adverse winds or weather. The runways were lit by the usual blue and red runway lights that could be found at any airport throughout the state. However, it is said that at San Simeon, Mr. Hearst’s airstrip was one of the first in the state to facilitate instrument landings.

Famous aviators who visited Hearst’s ranch included Sir Charles Kingford-Smith, Howard Hughes and Amelia Earhart.

In 1946, the airstrip was moved to its current location one mile north of the Visitor Center. Today, the airstrip is still used by Hearst Corporation and family but is not open to public air traffic.

The largest aircraft known to land at the airstrip was a Boeing 727 owned by Malcolm Forbes.