Map of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Satellite map of the Point Reyes National Seashore
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Point Reyes National Seashore
On the northern coast, near Point Reyes Station
This peninsula north of San Francisco is noted for long beaches backed by tall cliffs and lagoons; forested ridges; and offshore bird and sea lion colonies. Highlights include the short Earthquake Trail, which passes by what was likely the epicenter of the devastating 1906 quake, and the late 19th-century Point Reyes Lighthouse, a good spot to watch for whales. There's also a bird observatory (most easily reached via Boli-nas). The small towns of Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness are in or border on the park. The seashore was authorized in 1962, established in 1972, and designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1988.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Beachcombing, bicycling (rentals, Olema), bird-watching, fishing, hiking, horseback riding (rentals, Fivebrooks, tel. 415/663-1570), kayaking, tide-pooling, whale-watching. Facilities: 3 visitor centers: Bear Valley (Bear Valley Rd., Olema), Lighthouse (Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 23 mi from Bear Valley), and Ken Patrick (Drakes Beach, off Sir Francis Drake Blvd.); 140 mi of hiking trails, beaches, outdoor exhibit panels. Programs & Events: Programs on lighthouses and lifeboat stations, gray whales, seals and sea lions, wildflowers, birds, geology, Native Americans, tide pools (throughout the year). Native American Big Time Festival (4th Sat., July), Sand Sculpture Contest (Sun. of Labor Day weekend). Tips & Hints: The lighthouse can be reached only by climbing 300 stairs. Its occasionally closed due to high winds. Check tide tables before walking on the beaches; high tides can trap you. Stay away from the cliff edges and do not walk below the cliffs; the cliffs are unstable and there may be falling rocks. Not all beaches have lifeguards on duty. After hiking, carefully check your body for ticks, as ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in the area. Go Feb.-May for flowers, Dec.-Apr. for migrating gray whales, Nov.-Apr. for breeding elephant seals, Aug.-Feb. for migrating birds. Busiest in Aug. and Dec, least crowded in Feb. and Apr.
FOOD, LODGING & SUPPLIES
Camping: 5 campgrounds (permit required) in the park: Tomales Bay (boat-in beach camping area; $12-$35; pit toilets), Coast Camp ($12-$35; pit toilets), Glen Camp ($12-$35; pit toilets), Sky Camp ($12-$35; pit toilets), Wildcat Camp ($12-$35; pit toilets). Hotels: In the park: Point Reyes Hostel (tel. 415/663-8811; 44 beds; $10-$16). In Inverness Park: Blackthorne Inn (266 Vallejo Ave., tel. 415/663-8621; 5 rooms; $225-$325). X Restaurants: In the park: Drakes Beach cafe (tel. 415/669-1297; $4-$12). In Inverness: Priscilla's (12781 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., tel. 415/669-1244; $6-$20).
FEES, HOURS & REGULATIONS
Free. Shuttle fee for whale viewing ($4). Camping permits required (available at Bear Valley Visitor Center). California fishing license required. No hunting. No pets or bikes in wilderness. No car camping. Seashore open daily sunrise-sunset. Bear Valley Visitor Center weekdays 9-5, weekends 8-5. Lighthouse Visitor Center Thurs.-Mon. 10-4:30. Ken Patrick weekends and holidays 10-5.
HOW TO GET THERE
45 mi north of San Francisco via U.S. 101 and Sir Francis Drake Blvd. or via Rte. 1. Closest airport: San Francisco.
Bear Valley Visitor Center (Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes, CA 94956, tel. 415/464-5100). Administrative office: Point Reyes National Seashore (Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, tel. 415/464-5100, fax 415/663-8132).
Point Reyes National Seashore. How to get by car to the Point Reyes National Seashore. How to book a room and its price in the Point Reyes National Seashore