Point Reyes & Inverness Ridge, CA
Just north of San Francisco, California, you will find the Point Reyes National Seashore. The national seashore is a great place to find beauty and adventure. If you love to combine outdoor adventure with the chance to learn about history and nature, the Point Reyes and Inverness Ridge Area of California is a place you should visit on your next trip to the west coast.
Point Reyes National Seashore has a few very popular back-country camping spots. The camping sites at the national seashore are hike or boat-in only, so if you are looking for a car or RV campsite you will have to find one outside the national seashore.
The National Seashore also has great opportunities for nature and birdwatching. You can see the gray whales, especially during their migration from January to April. You can see the seals from the Elephant Seal Overlook near Chimney Rock. The park also has great birdwatching. Near the Pierce Point Ranch there is a large preserve which is home to over 400 tule elk. These elk are often visible from the parking lot; the best time of year to see the elk is late July through November.
Point Reyes National Park has many trails, historic structures and visitor centers that provide great exhibits on the history, ecology and geology in the area. The Bear Valley Visitor Center at the entrance of the park has many ecological and historical exhibits. If you only have a few hours for your visit Bear Valley Visitor Center, this is a good spot to learn about the park.
The Bear Valley Visitor Center also provides access to a few short, but fascinating trails. You can walk to Kule Loklo, a replica of a Coast Miwok Indian village, by taking a short path from the visitor center. Woodpecker Trail, also near the visitor center, has interpretive signs about plants and animals that can be found on the trail. Earthquake Trail is a paved trail near the visitor center. This trail explores the San Andreas Fault Zone and has interpretive signs about the local geology.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse is located about 45 minutes into the park. Drive into the park and stop at the Point Reyes Lighthouse visitor center, where you can view the lighthouse from an observation deck. If you would like to walk down the path to the lighthouse, you will have to visit between Thursday and Monday and then descend the 308 stairs. You can learn about the history of dairy ranching with the interpretive signs and historic structures at the Pierce Point Ranch. The Ken Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach has a great marine exhibit.
In addition to camping, nature and history, Point Reyes also has many opportunities for hiking, biking and horse riding. The park has 150 miles of trails. There are also great beaches and tide pools for exploring along the California coast. You can hike to Mt. Wittenberg from the Bear Valley Visitor Center, a 1300 ft climb that puts you at the highest point in the park.
The Point Reyes National Seashore has many volunteer opportunities, from habitat restoration and repairing trails to educating visitors about wildlife. Or, if you want to escape from nature for a bit, all of the excitement of San Francisco can be found a little over 30 miles away from the Point Reyes National Seashore. You are also situated near the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Point Reyes National Seashore is a great place to experience the coast of California. You can participate in some back-country camping, hiking and kayaking. After you have had your fill of recreation, wildlife viewing and history you can drive down to San Francisco where you can enjoy all that this fabulous California city has to offer.