Point Reyes National Seashore | Outdoorsy

Point Reyes National Seashore
Guide

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 (10)

[Caution] Annual Quarantine of Sport-Harvested Mussels - May 1 through October 31

Every year, the California Department of Public Health announces an annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast. The quarantine is in effect from May 1 until October 31 and applies to all species of mussels.

[Information] Bridge Closure is in effect until further notice.

The Old Tocaloma Bridge (the old concrete bridge paralleling Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near its junction with Platform Bridge Road ~two miles east of Olema) is closed to vehicular traffic until further notice.

[Caution] Boaters: Small Craft Advisory is in effect until 9 pm on Sunday, July 5.

The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory for coastal waters between Point Arena to 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] Beach Hazards Statement is in effect until 8 pm on Sunday, July 5.

The NWS has issued a Beach Hazards Statement for the Coastal North Bay, including Point Reyes, for increased risk of sneaker waves and strong rip currents. Be extra careful & vigilant if visiting area beaches. Never turn your back on the ocean.

[Caution] Boaters: Small Craft Advisory is in effect until 9 pm on Sunday, July 5.

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.

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.

[Park Closure] Annual closure of a portion of Point Reyes Beach on weekends and holidays through Labor Day.

Point Reyes Beach between the North Beach parking lot and the mouth of Abbotts Lagoon is closed to all entry on weekends and federal holidays from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day to better ensure the survival of snowy plover nests and chicks.

[Park Closure] Temporary facilities closure advisory

Following guidance from the CDC & to comply with orders issued by the County of Marin Public Health Department, the national seashore's visitor centers and campgrounds are closed. Some park roads and parking areas are closed to motorized access.

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

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.

[Park Closure] Pet Owners: Two sections of Point Reyes Beach are closed to pets through September 30.

To better ensure the survival of snowy plover nests and chicks, two sections of Point Reyes Beach are closed to pets through September 30.

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RV Rentals in Point Reyes National Seashore

Transportation

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 Transportation

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.

Seasonal activities in Point Reyes National Seashore

Winter

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.

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.

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.

Summer

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.

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.

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.

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