Point Reyes National Seashore
Guide

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Introduction

Point Reyes National Seashore is located along the coast of Northern California, less than an hour north of San Francisco. The park is approximately 100 square miles in size and is comprised of numerous beaches, scenic bluffs, grasslands, and forests. With many different ecosystems, there is much to see and learn in the area. Visitors will not be disappointed in what the National Seashore has to offer.

There are numerous activities to enjoy at Point Reyes. The many interconnecting hiking and equestrian trails allow visitors to customize the length and skill level of their route. Point Reyes Lighthouse is a popular spot for whale watching and seeing harbor seals, though both can be seen from the beaches and cliffs as well. Three visitor centers within the National Seashore each have unique exhibits and displays, teaching visitors about the area’s history.

While RV camping isn't offered at Point Reyes National Seashore, backcountry hike-in and boat-in camping is an option at the five campgrounds in the park. For RV guests, there is a KOA about 25 miles from the park with a number of amenities. The National Seashore is open for both camping and day use year-round.

Park Alerts (6)

[Park Closure] Road Closures are in effect until further notice. [+ Info]

McClures Beach Trailhead Access Road and Parking Lot are closed to vehicular traffic until further notice. Mount Vision Road from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to Pine Ridge/Gunn Road is closed to all public entry until further notice.

[Caution] Boaters: Small Craft Advisory is in effect from 10 am on Thu., Dec 12 until 3 am on Sat., Dec. 14. [+ Info]

The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory for coastal waters between Point Reyes and Pigeon Point. Winds of 21 to 33 knots and/or steep waves are expected to produce hazardous wave conditions to small craft.

[Caution] Many Roads within the Park are in Poor Condition. [+ Info]

Please be aware of poor road conditions along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and adjust your speed accordingly, especially along the perpetually flooded section between the Estero Trail Access Road and Schooner Bay.

[Caution] Boaters: Small Craft Advisory is in effect from 10 am on Thu., Dec 12 until 3 am on Sat., Dec. 14. [+ Info]

The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory for coastal waters between Point Arena and Point Reyes, including Tomales Bay. Winds of 21 to 33 knots and/or steep waves are expected to produce hazardous wave conditions to small craft.

[Caution] Hazardous conditions at Arch Rock and along Chimney Rock and Tomales Point trails. [+ Info]

During 2015, Arch Rock collapsed and cracks were reported along the top of a bluff along Chimney Rock Trail. In 2017, part of the bluff at Tomales Point collapsed. Bluff tops may be unstable and additional collapses may occur. Stay on designated trails.

[Caution] High Surf Advisory is in effect from 3 pm on Thursday, December 12 until 3 am Saturday, December 14. [+ Info]

The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory for the Coastal North Bay, including Point Reyes National Seashore. Use extra caution near the surf zone as these large waves are capable of sweeping people into the frigid & turbulent water.

RV Rentals in Point Reyes National Seashore

Transportation in Point Reyes National Seashore

Driving

Point Reyes National Seashore is located along the sprawling California Coast about 30 miles north of San Francisco. The park can be accessed from north or south by the winding and scenic Highway 1. If coming from the east, visitors can take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard or Point Reyes/Petaluma Road into the park.

The roads are winding with steep cliffs and switchbacks. Drivers should use caution especially in the rain or at night. There are many communities near the park where visitors can find restaurants, gas, lodging, and other services.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Point Reyes National Seashore

Campsites in Point Reyes National Seashore

Reservations camping

San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA

While there isn’t RV camping at Point Reyes National Seashore, RV camping is available at the San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA. This KOA is about a 25-mile drive to Bear Valley Visitor Center. With sites up to 100 feet in length, those with big rigs will have no trouble fitting into a spot. It is encouraged to make reservations in advance.

Amenities at the KOA include electric hookups, cable, and wifi. Propane and firewood are available at the campground for a fee. There are plenty of activities for guests to enjoy during their stay including a pool that is open from May to October, a rock wall, and a playground.

Point Reyes National Seashore Campgrounds

Point Reyes National Seashore offers hike-in and boat-in camping only. There are no camping areas for RV or travel trailers. The five backcountry campgrounds are open year-round. Visitors can make reservations in advance and pick up their permit upon arrival at Bear Valley Visitor Center.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Point Reyes National Seashore

Spring

Hiking

There are about 150 miles of hiking trails at the National Seashore. The trails are interconnecting allowing hikers to customize the length and difficulty of their hike. Trail maps can be picked up at Bear Valley Visitor Center. One popular trail is the Laguna-Coast Loop which leads through coastal grasslands and over bluffs with stunning views. Another popular trail is the short Earthquake Trail which is an interpretive route exploring the San Andreas Fault Zone.

Summer

Beaches

Numerous beaches make up nearly 80 miles of shoreline at Point Reyes National Seashore. Some of the beaches have parking lots close by while others can only be accessed by trail or boat. Seals are often observed out on the water or lounging on the coastline. During the winter months, whales may be seen from a distance.

Kayaking

Kayaking and canoeing are popular activities in the park. There are kayak rentals and tours offered in the area as well. Tomales Bay is a 15-mile long tidal water body and is the most popular kayaking spot at the National Seashore. Boat-in camping is allowed on the Tomales Bay beaches with a permit. From July to February, Drakes Estero and Estero de Limantour are open to kayaks. Both areas are a great location for viewing harbor seals.

Fall

Horseback Riding

There are many trails open for equestrian use at Point Reyes National Seashore. The trails can be moderate or strenuous depending on which of the connecting loops are used. For those looking for beach access, the Bear Valley Trail to the Coast Trail is the most direct path to the ocean. This trail is not open to horses on weekends or holidays past the Mt. Wittenburg trail junction. Horses are permitted at most backcountry campgrounds, though there is a maximum limit of six horses per campsite.

Winter

Visitor Centers

There are three visitor centers at Point Reyes National Seashore, each with their own exhibits and attractions. Bear Valley Visitor Center is located in Olema, CA and is the park’s primary visitor center. Exhibits at Bear Valley include displays relating to the area’s history and the diverse ecosystems. The Lighthouse Visitor Center is 45 minutes west of Bear Valley. It’s a popular spot for whale watching from December to April. The Point Reyes Lighthouse at the visitor center draws quite a crowd most days. A shuttle is offered when the parking lot is filled to capacity. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach has many marine-related exhibits including marine fossils and the different marine environments.

Wildlife Viewing

There are many wildlife viewing opportunities throughout the National Seashore. Elephant and Harbor Seals can be seen near many of the beaches as well as the Lighthouse Visitor Center. Whale watch from the bluffs along the trails from December to April. Inland, elk are commonly sighted. Those planning to birdwatch will not be disappointed. Hawks are often seen soaring through the sky and in the evening Northern Spotted Owls may make an appearance. Additionally, many different types of shorebirds can be seen year-round along the coast.

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