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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.