Point Reyes National Seashore


Sir Francis Drake first made landfall along California's Point Reyes at Drake's Estero in 1579. Over 20 years later, Spaniard Don Sebastian Vizcaino dubbed the triangular spit of coastline "La Punta de Los Reyes" in honor of the Feast of the Three Kings. Although Europeans didn't settle the area for another 200 years, the Coast Miwok Native Americans had lived off the seashore's bounty for centuries before Drake set eyes on California. Today, Point Reyes National Seashore preserves the spectacular coastline, ocean-carved beaches, estuaries and salt marshes teeming with birds, deep forests of Douglas fir and Bishop pine, and lush meadows blanketed with wildflowers. Along the migratory paths of the gray whale and hundreds of birds, Point Reyes is also the habitat of sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, two herds of tule elk and several species of deer. Visit the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, decommissioned in 1975, that protected this treacherous section of Pacific coastline, the windiest on the West Coast, for over a hundred years before it was replaced by an automated system. Although Point Reyes is only a few miles north of San Francisco in scenic western Marin County, it is accessible by CA 1, 40 miles of twisting mountain road, making its windswept beauty seem a haven for solitude. What to see and do: Begin your visit at the Bear Valley Visitor Center near Olema where a film, slide presentation, exhibits, and dioramas introduce you to the natural and cultural history of Point Reyes. It's open 9 AM to 5 PM weekdays and an hour earlier on weekends with extended hours during peak summer season. Hike the half-mile Earthquake Trail loop that passes along the infamous San Andreas Fault to learn how the 1906 earthquake altered the peninsula. Kule Loklo, a half-mile from the Bear Valley Visitor Center, is a recreated Coast Miwok village where you can wander through kotcas (Miwok family homes), a sweat lodge, and other religious structures. If you're lucky, native Coast Miwoks will be on site, demonstrating crafts and presenting living history programs. Ranger programs also may cover earthquakes, local flora and fauna, the lifesaving station and the lighthouse. The Morgan Horse Ranch, also near Bear Valley, is a working horse farm where the National Park Service breeds and trains horses for use in their facilities. Visitors are welcome. Other visitor centers are located at the Point Reyes Lighthouse and at Drake's Bay, where there is also an aquarium and a cafe. Because the lighthouse is an ideal location for watching migrating whales during winter months, the road to it is open only for shuttle bus service during peak winter weekends and holidays. Contact the lighthouse (415-669-1534) for more details. To get the most from your visit to Point Reyes, you must get out of your car and into the open air, even if only to stroll along a windswept beach. There are over 140 miles of hiking trails though the Point Reyes Peninsula; about 100 miles of these are open to horse travel and close to 40 allow mountain bikes as well. Trails vary in length and difficulty, but many are relatively flat and reward the hiker with glimpses of wildlife and coastal beauty. Bear Valley Trail, one of the most popular, begins at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and winds a little over four miles to Arch Rock and the ocean. Other trails lead to the top of Mt. Wittenberg, the highest point in the park with an elevation of over 1400 feet; to Pierce Point Ranch, a historic dairy farm; and to beaches, estuaries and tidepools all along the coast. There are four popular hike-in or boat-in campgrounds available at Point Reyes, and reservations are highly recommended by calling 415-663-8054 (Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 2 PM). Hostelling International operates a dormitory-style hostel near Limantour Beach; call 415-663-8811 for more details. Fishing is allowed with a valid California license; contact the park for specific regulations.


1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


38.06067000, -122.81711900
Visit Website
(415) 464-5100

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