Point Reyes National Seashore is one of the most beautiful spots near San Francisco for outdoor adventurers to explore. It is full of breathtaking views, history and trails that always leave you wanting more. While I have not explored it as much as others, I have been a couple of times and every time I leave wishing I could stay longer. This guide will expand as I visit more, but here some images and information about what you can expect when you visit this magical spot.
One of the unique things about Point Reyes is the sheer amount of animals you can see when driving Sir Francis Drake Blvd through the park. Here are a few I have seen:
Since the park is meant to be driven slow, I have seen coyotes multiple times while exploring. While they can be skittish a good zoom lens will bring you close for a photo.
Elephant seals are one of my favorite animals, and I always try to see them when I can throughout the state. In Point Reyes, you can view them from the elephant seal overlook at the end of Sir Francis Drake Blvd, read more about that here.
If you are lucky, you may also see them at Drake’s Beach, which is where I got the close-up shot at the beginning of this section.
The Tule Elk are one of the main animals in the park and in the North section there is a whole area dedicated to seeing them. While it is not guaranteed, more often than not you will see one of these fantastic creatures while exploring the park.
Point Reyes National Seashore is full of excellent beaches that you can see while driving or park at to explore. Here are some of the main ones on Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Drake’s Beach is my favorite of the beaches in the park. It feels remote when you walk out from the parking lot onto the sand that is littered with branches and other debris.
Plus, this beach frequently has elephant seals on it, which makes it an excellent way to see these animals up close (not more than 25 feet though, they move faster then they look like they do).
North and South Beach are both on the outer section of Point Reyes, which faces the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, they both are prone to bigger waves and more wind. They both also have sand dunes that surround them which make for a fun spot to explore with the whole family. I love coming here after a storm and just watching the massive waves crash on the shoreline.
Cypress Tree Tunnel
While not a structure per say, the Cypress Tree Tunnel has become an incredibly famous spot to visit in the park. It is easy to see why when you drive up to it as the trees form a makeshift tunnel and provide a view that you would expect to see in the plantations of the South instead of along the California coast. Read more about visiting it here.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
The Point Reyes Lighthouse, out on the end of the point, is one of the most pristine and beautiful lighthouses along the California coast. It is only open on the weekends, but you can view it from the main viewpoint during the days it isn’t open. It is worth the visit just to see it alone, but I would recommend planning for when it is open so you can get the full experience.
Believe it or not, there is a lot of ranching history on Point Reyes, some of which still goes on to this day. When driving along the main road, you will pass a half dozen of these working ranches. Many of these ranches have been here for decades, which is why they are still active in the park. You will see lots of cattle as you drive through the park as well.
Towards the beginning of the park, there is a large visitors center which talks about the park history, the animals, and the ranches. I found it to be a great spot to talk with the docents who helped me plan my day in the park. There are also a few great hiking trails that leave from the visitors center area as well.
All in all Point Reyes is somewhere you want to spend some time at. The area itself is incredibly beautiful, and there are so many trails and adventures you can have that you inevitably leave wishing you have more time. Let me know what your favorite spot is in Point Reyes in the comments.