Spotlight: Point Reyes National Seashore
A Jewel of Marin County
Point Reyes National Seashore just has that quintessential, magical Marin County beauty about it. A visit to these pristine, majestic, preserved headlands and it’s hard to believe that you’re barely an hour’s drive out of San Francisco. Certainly one of the Golden State’s most beautiful treasures, this cliff-meets-coastline peninsula, naturally, is quite the sought-after destination. Visitors interested in booking a campsite should do so three to six months in advance.
Point Reyes National Seashore is located off California’s scenic coastal Highway 1, about 30 miles north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.
Point Reyes National Seashore has just expanded its services to accommodate its many visitors, making obtaining permits and reserving campsites much easier and more efficient.
Fly into San Francisco International Airport, Oakland Airport, or take a California road trip and find Point Reyes off Highway 1, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
What You’ll Find
A park preserve that contains 71,028 acres of rocky headlands, miles of untouched beaches, undeveloped coastline, wild Pacific Ocean, brushy hillsides, forested ridges, over 1000 species of plants and animals (including an impressive meadow of daffodils if you can find it), American history, unforgettable views, a pastoral village and more activities than you can possibly pack into one trip.
Five campgrounds are available for reservations - four bike-in/hike-in campgrounds and one boat-in campground. Learn more and check availability here. Within the seashore, Hostelling International-Point Reyes offers dorm/hostel style accommodations (one private room is available). Outside the seashore, Marin and Sonoma counties have plenty of campgrounds to choose from. Accommodations for RV or car camping, inns and bed and breakfasts are also easy to find in the surrounding areas.
Make Sure You
Stop by the Bear Valley Visitor Center to become better acquainted with the park before you begin to explore. Other must dos: check out Kule Loklo (a replica of the Coast Miwok Indian Village) near the center, visit at least two of the 12 beaches (you can only drive right up to three—Drakes Beach, Limantour Beach and Great Beach—visit other beaches via trail or boat), plan a picnic and go to the Pierce Point Ranch to look for Tule Elk.
Challenge yourself to a long hike to see Sunset Beach (from Estero Trailhead) to check out the fossilized whale bones on the beach, visit the all-organic farmers market in the surrounding community, try the oysters at the local restaurants, stroll the quaint country town of Point Reyes Station and all its family-owned shops, go wine tasting in Marin and Sonoma counties, check out the impressive waves and equally extraordinary surfers, cycle the quiet country roads through rolling hills, go whale-watching in January and March when grey whales are migrating, kayak Tomales Bay or the open coastline (for the very experienced) or obtain a permit and enjoy a beach fire.
Park regulations. If you bring your dog, know where your four-legged friends can and can’t go. Beware: the power of the Northern Pacific Ocean. Depending on the time of year, the swell can be quite sizeable here—casual swimming and surfing for the inexperienced is not advised. Also, remember to check the weather forecasts often and plan accordingly. Coastal Northern California can be foggy, windy, cold or rainy, depending on the time of year.
Bring your hiking shoes and lots of layers. In winter months, rain gear is advised. In warmer months, swimwear is great for hanging out and playing on the beach. The Pacific Ocean in these parts is not warm so you won’t be frolicking or swimming in the water without a wetsuit, unless you enjoy a slight case of hypothermia.