Point Reyes – Drakes Beach and Lighthouse

Introduction:

Where? : Point Reyes south section, take Sir Francis Drake Blvd and drive to the direction of the lighthouse.

Google Map Link





 

What? : People come here to see the close-up look at the huge Elephant seal and visit the lighthouse.

 

When? : You may see elephant seals on any given month but the best time to visit here is December through March for the birthing and mating season, and in the spring when adult females and juveniles haul out to molt.

 

My thoughts: A highly recommended place to visit, an amazing place to see Elephant seal colonies.

 

The visit:

From hwy 1 take Sir Francis Drake Blvd into the peninsula. After 3.9 miles you can have a short stop at Point Reyes Inverness Shipwreck, nice short stop on the way.


Keep going on Sir Francis Drake Blvd in the direction of the lighthouse. The road may be under construction, protecting against constant flooding in the lower sections.

After 9.1 miles from hwy 1 you will see a narrow road on your left, this short road will take you to the inner lagoon, not too much to do there except watching the view and birds.



After additional 1.1 mile you will see on your right the Cypress Tree Tunnel.

 

Cypress Tree Tunnel:

After crossing the narrow single lane flooded section of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. you will reach a right entrance to old KPH Radio Station. You can park your car on the main road or drive inside the tree tunnel all the way to the end and park at the small parking lot near the old building. You can visit the old KPH Radio Station if it open.

The short road surrounded on both sides by old Cypress Trees creating a “tunnel” where the old house is at the end of it. This is the place to have a short walk and take some pictures. If you want to take pictures without anyone else you must come early morning at sunrise, otherwise you will share your visit with many other people.



 

Keep driving south on the main road and after 2 more miles you will reach the entrance to Point Reyes Beach North on your right. Keep driving south and after 2 miles turn left to the road that will take you to Drakes Beach.

On the way down to Drakes Beach, look at the large grasslands on both sides of the road, you may spot Tule elk herds, for better and close viewing of Elks I recommend going to Pierce Point Ranch.

 

You can also visit Point Reyes Beach South, Nice long open sandy beaches, not so much to see other than spending time on the ocean beach.

During winter months the road after that point is close to private vehicles and the lighthouse can be access only by shuttle bus if available.



 

Drakes Beach (Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center):

This is the place where you can have close-up look at the huge Elephant Seal. They are mainly available from December through March (the birthing and mating season). Latest surveys count population of 1,500 to 2,000 individuals coming to Point Reyes each winter.

During 2019 Drakes beach was “taken over” by Elephant seal male population, it is amazing how close you can get to the animals lying on the beach.

At the last time I visited this place (19/1/2020) the beach was close to access right at the visitor center parking-lot, but you can see up close the huge Elephant Seals males, some are only 1m away across the roadblocks.






This is an excellent place to see (hear and smell) the fascinating behavior of these animals. It is interesting just to stand there see their behavior, resting in the sun, moving like big water balloon and throwing sand on their body to cool themselves, or even to see male domination bloody battle.

During the winter weekends this is also the place where bus shuttles are going to the lighthouse and Chimney Rock.

 

Point Reyes Lighthouse:

After 2 years of renovation they re-open the old, 149th anniversary, lighthouse for visits. From the parking lot at the cliff top a long stretch of stair going down to the lighthouse visitor center. From this point (or other high viewpoints) you may also spot Gray whales migrate (from December through May).

Just at the lighthouse car parking lot there is a very short trail to South Beach Overlook, a nice viewpoint over the long starch of ocean beach stretching north for many miles.

 

During the winter the road to the Lighthouse may be closed on weekends & federal holidays beyond South Beach to private vehicle traffic, you will need to take a shuttle-bus from Drakes Beach that will take you to the lighthouse and Chimney Rock.

Check at the park website for lighthouse opening, it may be close to visit due to covid19.

 

Chimney Rock & Elephant Seal Overlook:

From the Elephant Seal Overlook, you can see the large colony of elephant seal down in the water and on the beaches, you can see females with pups and mails in the mating season.

You can have a short hike to Chimney Rock viewpoint or see the Historic Point Reyes Lifeboat Station.

 

www:

https://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/pore/learn/nature/elephant_seals.htm

https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/kph_treetunnel.htm

https://www.nps.gov/pore/learn/historyculture/stories_communications.htm

 

Map:

https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/upload/map_park_closures_201023.pdf

Pictures:













































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