Point Reyes National Seashore

Take a Day Trip to the Stunning Beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore

If the weather’s fair and you want some fresh air, get out of the city for a day, and head up to Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. This national treasure is only a lovely 40-mile drive from San Francisco but a million miles away from the noise, congestion and traffic of the city. Located on a thin peninsula, this scenic park is separated from the North American continent by the famously cantankerous San Andreas Fault, which moves the park a bit further out in the ocean each time it releases its considerable stores of energy.

Point Reyes is a superb location to enjoy many outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, camping, birding, swimming, boating and other fun things to do. Pack a picnic lunch, and watch migrating whales as you and your significant other sip a nice pinot. Pack lightly for a day hike, and head to the northern end of the peninsula to view Tule Elk browsing on the vegetation. Go tidepooling, and meander on the miles of protected beaches around this stunning natural treasure. If your legs crave a modest workout, descend the 308 steps to the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse. It may seem counterintuitive to descend steps to a lighthouse until you view the dense banks of fog that often envelop the peninsula. Planners wisely decided to build this lighthouse under the fog to protect vessels from the lovely but unforgiving rocks and reefs that surround this marvelous place.

Point Reyes National Seashore is open from sunrise to midnight every day of the year, with the various visitor centers open every day but Christmas Day. Sadly, budget cuts imposed by Congress have forced park administrators to limit the hours that visitor centers are open, so check out the schedule at http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/hours.htm to plan your visit. This page also provides information on the best months of the year to observe migrating whales, elephant seal breeding, harbor seal pupping season, bird migration overhead and many other natural wonders.

Whether you live in the Bay Area or are planning a visit, spending at least one day at Point Reyes is highly recommended. If you like, pack a tent and other camping gear to make a week or weekend of it! Unplug from your smartphone and the other trappings of modern life, and observe the natural rhythms of life that have gone on here for a very long time. Your soul will thank you for it. Just remember to dress warmly in layers for the bracing winds off the ocean. Your legs and arms will thank you for that!