This blog is high level Day Trip planner to Point Reyes NP.
I provide below links to specific park location blogs for detailed information and many more pictures from each location.
Where? : Located 1.5 hr drive north of San Francisco on hwy 1 near the small town of Point Reyes Station
What: Large peninsula protected under the National Seashore regulation, popular tourist destination on the Pacific coast with many nature attractions including Tule elk herds, Seal Elephant population.
When? : Year round
My thoughts: I highly recommend this park; I visit here many times and enjoy it every time. This is a perfect day-trip destination from San Francisco and the bay area.
Point Reye Blogs:
- Point Reyes – Pierce Point Ranch and Tule Elk Reserve
- Point Reyes – Drakes Beach and Lighthouse
- Point Reyes – Alamere Falls
Blog Links Covering Nearby Attractions:
- Mount Tamalpais State Park
- Mount Tamalpais State Park - Cataract Trail
- Muir Woods National Monument
- Sonoma Coast State Park - Goat Rock
- Fort Ross State Historic Park
- Bodega Bay
- Salt Point State Park
One of the most interesting, fun to visit and divers National Park we have !
the large park is located just 1 hr drive north of San Francisco.
You can find in the park many interesting places to visit and to explore: long sandy ocean beaches, tall cliff going down into to the ocean, lagoons, lash rain forests with long hike options, lakes and stream, waterfall falling directly to the ocean, open spaces grassland, amazing Tule elk herds, Elephant Seal colony, restore Lighthouse, Whale watching and more…
The park main Highlights and Attractions (link to the relevant blog post):
- Pierce Point Ranch: This is the best place to watch Tule elk year-round.
- Drakes Beach: Getting close-up look on the huge Elephant seal at the winter and Cypress Tree Tunnel.
- Hike to Alamere Falls and the surrounding forest, lakes and beaches.
Please check for latest park updates and closer's, this is especially important after the 2020 summer Limantour fire and with the ongoing Covid19 regulations.
Park Visitor Center:
The park headquarters and main visitor center is at Bear Valley Visitor Center on Bear Valley road parallel to hwy 1, three miles south of Point Reyes Station town.
Unlike many other national parks here at Point Reyes the visitor center isn’t a "mandatory stop" when visiting the park, especially if you know what you want to see in the big park.
There are many forest hiking trails options near the Bear Valley visitor center.
The most popular of the hikes is Bear Valley Trail. The trailhead is just at the end of the road near the large parking lot.
From here you can hike 4.5 miles all the way to the ocean front. This is relatively easy wide trail that pass the mountain range in a low section so it does not involved with a lot of climbing.
You do not need to hike all the 9 miles out and back but rather turn around once you had enough.
The area of Point Reyes has a lot of interesting history from thousands of years of native American habitat, first European landing at California shore by Sir Francis Drake at 1579 and cattle and milk industry during the 1800’s.
This is not “regular” national park, Point Reyes is not governing all the large peninsula land and there are still active cattle farms and large grazing lands within the Peninsula as also state beach.
The mountain ridges, headland and seashores are protected as part of Point Reyes National Seashore.
3 Day-Trip Option Recommendations:
· Start the trip from Pierce Point Ranch & Tule Elk Reserve (~5 miles hike), combine this with McClures Beach, when finish the north section and you have time go to Drakes Beach & Lighthouse section
· Focus on the south part of the park: Short stop at Cypress Tree Tunnel, Drakes Beach (watch the Elephants Seal), Lighthouse, Chimene Rock & Elephant Seal Overlook
· Hike to Alamere Falls that is in different section of the park, at summertime can combine this with afternoon stop at Stinson Beach….
How to Get There:
If you are coming from San Francisco I recommend to take the longer hwy 1 route that offer few short interesting stopping point along the drive and a nice ocean cliff view.
On your way back home later at the afternoon take the fastest route recommended by the mapping app or take again the winding hwy 1 and enjoy the sun setting into the ocean view.
before arriving to Point Reyes on your way north on hwy 1 you can stop at Muir Beach, from the beach parking lot this is a short walk to a black sand beach. on mid-day weekends the parking lot is usually full and you do not have any place to park your car.
You can also have a short stop at Muir Beach Overlook just after the small town on the ocean cliffs on your left, this is an old WW2 lookout post, enjoy the view and keep driving north.
Another option to stop, for coffee and pastries, is at the beach town of Stinson Beach (very popular beach at summertime), or farther north at the small town of Point Reyes Station just before taking the road into the peninsula.
Point Reyes Shipwrecks:
A nice short stop on your way into the park is at Point Reyes Shipwrecks (Inverness) at the inner lagoon shore.
This is an old wooden Shipwrecks stack on the sandy beach just near the main road.
Park at Inverness Store (across the road from Saltwater Oyster Depot), walk 300f and see the boat up-close.
Nothing extraordinary, just nice “photo opportunity” during sunset/sunrise or at night with stars…
If you just want to enjoy the beach you can park at the side of the road before it climb into inland, here you will have a quite nice sandy beach.