Castle adds a new two-hour tour of Julia Morgan
– After being closed for more than two years, first due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then in 2021 due to a severely storm-damaged road, Hearst Castle open to visitors this month. 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 this closure was extended by storm damage. In April 2021, state park officials announced the discovery of multiple sinkholes affecting a 2.25-mile stretch of road leading to the castle. The damage is the result of a January 2021 storm that dumped more than 20 inches of rain in the area, also washing away part of Route 1. Damage to the road delayed the reopening of Hearst Castle by several months.
The May 11 opener is greeted by Julia Morgan’s new two-hour tour, taking an in-depth look at the life and career of this extraordinary woman, as well as rarely seen areas of Hearst Castle. Morgan, the architect of Hearst Castle and other Hearst properties, was the first certified female architect in California and the first woman to run her own architectural practice. As one of America’s most prominent architects, her designs have adorned private homes, college campuses, women’s clubs, and religious buildings. This new tour highlights Morgan’s gift for design and includes photographic exhibits of architectural drawings, family photos and personal items.
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 visit the gardens on their own at the end of the guided tour. Instead, visitors will now return directly to the bus for the return trip to the Visitor Center. The staff hope that this is a temporary change and that personal tours of the gardens will return as soon as possible.
Ticket prices have increased to $30 per person for the three main tours, but additional fees that were previously applied to purchasing tickets have been rolled into the cost, resulting in an overall reduction in cost. Some prices for special programs and tour tickets remain the same, but these prices also include fees.
Tickets are available for purchase from the Hearst Castle website and can also be purchased at the Visitor Center. Purchasing and booking tickets in advance is highly recommended.
The castle attracts 850,000 visitors from all over the world every year. “Hearst Castle is a state treasure and we are thrilled to reopen this wonder to the public for safe and responsible enjoyment,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “We are confident that these one-of-a-kind repairs and upgrades to the roadside facility will serve countless generations to come.”