Lake RV Park
Camping Articles Index
Camping Articles Sitemap
Camping Articles RSS Feed
More Camping Articles
Great Family Camping Trips Make Excellent Traditions
Camping Tips To Help Make Your Camping Adventure Tons Of Fun
Follow This Camping Checklist To Ensure Camping For Fun
At Last How Women Can Immediately Overcome Their Fear Of Camping Alone
Hazards of Extreme Camping
Great Tips for Car Camping Enjoyment
Camping Food That Works for You
6 Camping Food Tips Easy and Warm Camping Meals
Getting The Right Camping Equipment
Camping Get Those Tents Up
Camping at the Castle – Hearst Castle
Read Jetsetters Magazine at www.jetsettersmagazine.com
Read this entire feature FREE with photos at
You're offered three levels of luxury at California's San Simeon State Park campground.
Up at Washburn, there's the undeveloped area, which means there's a tap somewhere and pit toilets. There's the open area that's close to the beach with a tap right at your site and flush toilets just a minute away from your tent. Lastly, the top-level sites offer a paved parking pad for your car or RV, hookups, and proximity to the showers. Guests camped on the open area can use the showers, which are nearby. Those up the hill in the undeveloped sites are discouraged from using them, though I don't think they're actively prevented from doing so.
In spite of this class system, the campground is pretty nice. It's wedged between Highway 1 and the slough, which is a wetlands preserve and you can walk under the freeway to a spectacular and uncrowded strip of beach. I was hesitant to pitch the tent so close to the freeway because of the noise, but once night fell, it really quieted down. Except for the noise from a mid-night run-in that the neighbor's dog had with a raccoon.
This was probably not the sensibility that "The Chief" had in mind when he built his little folly up the hill, but it's not far off. He wanted a place to get away from the city, a place to entertain friends, a place to play outside. He had the good sense to have it built above the fog line. Had we been contemporaries, we'd have woken up to damp Gore-tex and cold, wet, air, while The Chief and his guests were watching the sun break over the hills to the East, the light filtering through Moorish-style shutters. While we were firing up the Coleman stove to boil enough water for tea, The Chief and his guests would be wandering down to the dining hall in response to the breakfast bell.
Actually, it was William Randolph Hearst's weariness with camping that led him to build the magnificent palace on the hill known as Hearst Castle. He telegraphed his architect, Miss Julia Morgan, to request that she design for him a more comfortable place to spend his days at his ranch on the California Coast. Co-conspirators in the execution of this spectacular private folly on the hill, they worked together for 25 years designing, building, redesigning and sometimes rebuilding, the magical place that's now open to anyone who's willing to pay the price of admission.
It's worth noting that I'm not a guided tour kind of person. I prefer to poke around on my own and while I appreciate the insight that a tour guide so often has to offer, I'd just rather not. I'll read the plaques and flip the pages in the guidebook, but I want to be left to my own devices. However, upon completion of the Experience Tour (one of several tour options available), I was ready to pay for the whole thing all over again, just to see the rest of the place. I'd have gone up and down the hill all day, if that's what it would take to get in as many nooks and crannies of the Castle as possible.
We arrived a little too early for our tour. Tours leave every 30-45 minutes from the visitor center and tickets are time stamped. We took our time dawdling around the museum, which presents the life of William Randolph Hearst and showcases a few choice gems from his extensive collection of art and furniture.
We dried out in the sun and poked around in the shops - one is a gift store with postcards and books and t-shirts, the other a museum shop that sells reproductions of objects in the castle, among other things. Finally, we boarded the bus to the "Enhanted Hill" - San Simeon. We were lucky to spot, on the drive up, a few of the descendents from Hearst's private zoo, out grazing in the meadows. We were met by our tour guide on the marble plaza below the well-known Neptune Pool.
I won't go in to extensive details about what we saw on the tour, as the superlatives will sound ridiculous. Friends of mine at home, prior to my departure, recommended Hearst Castle as "worth seeing." I realize now that their understated approach to suggesting we make a stop there on our jaunt along the coast was due not to their being unimpressed, but rather, to their inability to describe the splendor and beauty of this place.
As we wandered through the buildings, past the marble and the carved walnut and the gold inlay, we had progressively less ability to express our wonder. The beauty of the final stop, the indoor swimming pool tiled in lapis lazuli blue and gold tiles - not gold color, but actual gold - left me overcome. I really thought I was going to cry.
Back at the visitor's center, I contemplated taking the next tour back up the hill. Instead, we opted for the 40 minute IMAX movie about the building of Hearst Castle. (The movie is included in the Experience Tour. If you choose a different tour, it's separate, but worth it.) The film contains some footage of Hearst and his architect, Julia Morgan, at the site while the castle is under construction, as well as a number of clips of Hearst's many famous guests. There are some stunning aerial shots of the site, which give the visitors a chance to grasp the size of the compound as well as the magnificence of its location.
At the campground that night, we had new neighbors who were compelled to share with us (and most of the campground) their love of rather obscene rap music. Meanwhile, the neighbors opposite were burning what must have mean a tire as it was putting out so much smoke as to obscure the sight, but not muffle the sound of the rap-loving campers. I was unperturbed. I put in the earplugs (I never travel without them) and dreamed myself a guest at the "Castle in the Sky."
When I woke up in the middle of the night, I stepped out of the tent to the sound of the ocean and the sight of the stars.
Hearst Castle is CRAZY BUSY! Go first thing in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds. We left a busy but not too crowded visitor's center at 11 a.m. and returned to a mob at 1 p.m.
You can buy tickets in advance online at the Hearst Castle Web site. There are plenty of ticket windows at the Visitor's Center, but the lines get long QUICK and if you've purchased your tickets in advance, you'll have more time to enjoy your visit.
In addition to the campground, there are plenty of little hotels just down the road in Cambria. Reservations, even for camping, are recommended, though we were able to get a tent site upon arrival.
We spent about five hours, all told, up on the hill. That's the movie, the tour, some time at the Visitor's Center, and a coffee break on the patio. We're real dawdlers, though; you could probably get your money's worth in about 3 hours.
The Hearst Castle Evening Tour program begins a new season each September. Visitors to the Castle are able to experience evening reflections from the 1930s heyday era.
Read this entire feature FREE with photos at:
By Pam, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent at www.jetsettersmagazine.com
About the Author
By Pam, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at www.jetsettersmagazine.com
Written by: Pam
Camping Lanterns Guide: Backpacking And Camping Lantern Tips.
What kind of camping lanterns best fit your outdoor needs? Do you need light weight for backpacking, or is maximum light more important? Camping...read more
Camping – Requirements And Safety Measures
An outdoor recreational activity, camping involves people spending the night in tents at a campsite. They do it in an attempt to temporarily avoid...read more
Camping With Man's Best Friend
Man's Best Friend
Man's best friend your dog , and you, can go camping and have lots of fun. Look at it as a walk that doesn't end, during...read more
How to Pick Warm Comfortable Sleeping Bags For Camping.
Should sleeping bags be made of down or synthetic? What sleeping bag is best for camping, hiking or backpacking? A guide to make your decision...read more
The best way to a Camping success
Spending your holiday or week-end on a camping trip can be a
very rewarding experience. Camping is great when you are looking
for adventure,...read more