Off the coast of California, the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore resides. Here, whale watchers flock to see the giant Gray whales during migration.
Where is Point Reyes National Seashore?
The National Park Service protects the beautiful peninsula known as Point Reyes National Seashore. It can be found in Marin County in California, which is centrally located in the state along the Pacific coast. It is located relatively close to the city of San Francisco. The beaches of Point Reyes were named the cleanest in the state in the year 2010. The peninsula the seashore resides on is separated for the most part from the rest of Marin County, only is only connected by a small section of land. The seashore has magnificent coastal beaches, uplands, unusual vegetation, scenery you won’t believe, cliffs, and estuaries. An abundance of wildlife calls the area home, and since it is protected the animals and plants can thrive here without human interference.
When Is the Park Open?
Point Reyes National Seashore is open from sunrise to midnight daily. There are three visitor centers to visit, and they have seasonal operating hours as well which is listed on the parks website. Choose from the Bear Valley Visitor Center, the Lighthouse Visitor Center, or the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center to get maps, information, see exhibits that display interesting information about the area, short films about the park, catch a shuttle bus, hike, and much more.
Places to Go During Your Visit – Alamere Falls
Alamere Falls is a waterfall unlike any other. The falls drop an impressive 30 feet over a cliff on the beach, allowing the water to flow right into the ocean. The waterfall is in the Phillip Burton Wilderness, and getting to it may prove to be a challenge if you are up for it. The hike to the falls is 13 miles round trip. The coastal cliffs are delicate and erode quickly, and the site is known for search and rescue attempts as people get too close to the edge or the footing gives way which can lead to an accident. The park suggests starting out at Wildcat Campground, and hiking along Wildcat Beach during the low tide. The trail to the falls is not maintained, so please use caution. Enjoy the spectacular sight of the amazing falls as they cascade over the beach cliffs to return to the ocean.
The Beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore
The beaches of Point Reyes are unparalleled. They are known to be some of the least crowded and cleanest beaches in the entire state. There are many to choose from, but one of the most popular is Drakes Beach, which provides dramatic scenery with the dark blue ocean backed against towering white, sandstone cliffs. There is also a visitor center here, drive-up access and a small café which attracts many people to this beach. Another beach to visit is the Kehoe Beach which has a sand dune, cliffs, great views, and a place to sit and relax. Heart’s Desire Beach is in a sheltered cove. This beach is perfect for families with kids as the water is a little calmer and warmer here. Limantour Beach is known for its wildlife, including Harbor seals, Gray whales, ducks, and other shorebirds. Dogs are allowed on the beach on a leash, but avoid the northwest area of the beach as this is protected for the seals and dogs cannot go there. The Great Beach is over 11 miles of sand and surf to explore. This place is also known as “Point Reyes Beach,” and visitors can have fun wandering the soft sand. Watch out for the intense surf and bring your camera for amazing pictures of the far-off cliffs in the distance and the vast stretch of sand that meets the Pacific. There are several other beaches to see and visit in the park for visitor enjoyment and exploration. Enjoy a beautiful sunset as the sun disappears behind a horizon of water of one of these magnificent beaches.
Morgan Horse Ranch
The Morgan Horse Ranch was used by the park for many years and had an established breeding program of horses with the help of private owners. In the ranch’s prime time frame, it maintained a herd of 30 to 40 horses. For many years the park used the horses in their daily functions. Today, only four horses are remaining, and they are used for patrol by the park ranger staff. They are also ridden out so staff can count seals for research. The ranch is fully intact and open to visitors. There is staff or volunteers on site to show guests around, and there are exhibits in the ranch buildings to learn about the startup and operations of the famous Morgan Horse Ranch.
Philip Burton Wilderness
Congressman Philip Burton made it his mission to help protect wilderness areas. This part of the park was named after him in honor of his efforts. The wilderness areas are open to everyone, but stricter rules apply. The “leave no trace” method is encouraged and visitors must pack in and out everything they bring, including garbage. The park has over 30,000 acres of designated wilderness areas. There are forested ridges, grasslands, dunes, shoreline, Beaches, trails, and wildlife like the popular Tule elk, seals, and waterfowl to see. It is a beautiful area, and people are encouraged to visit and explore.
What to Do on Your Visit
There are a variety of activities to do at the park and seashore. The park has both indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy depending on the weather. The Bear Valley Visitor Center is the main center and first-time visitors to the area are encouraged to stop here to get their bearings and see what they would like to do and where to go. There are lots of ranger-led programs and science lectures available to participate in. Also, guests can learn about any trail or road closures here if a trail has been damaged or road is flooded. Take a drive through the scenic park on one of the drives, or try the many hikes offered. Some hikes last under an hour or can take several depending on how much time you have in the park. Pack a beautiful picnic and enjoy it at the beach. Mountain bikers and horse riders have specific trails they can ride along for even more fun. There is a lot to see and do at Point Reyes National Seashore, and many guests find they need more than a day to see the best the park has to offer. Watch for the magnificent gray whales during the months of January through March as they migrate.