Officially, Point Reyes is a national seashore located an hour’s drive North of San Francisco. With the designation of Point Reyes as a national seashore in 1960-something, there is was a ban on any further commercial or residential development. A series of ranches already in place at the time of the ban are still in operation (they all have signs in front dating their presence to the 1800s) and an old oyster farm still offers raw oysters to visitors. The visitors’ webpage will tell you the weather climate can change quickly, but generally there are no extremes of heat or cold, and it rarely rains in the months of April through December.
Unofficially, the webpage is full of crap regarding the weather (though I’m assured the rain we encountered for 2 days was a total fluke), none of the pictures, however beautiful, can come close to doing the place justice when the sun is out, the cow herds are made more interesting by the deer and elk that occasionally graze with them, and there’s a strange absence of any man-made sounds, with an abundance of the barks of seals and chirps of birds.
I could probably babble about how beautiful the place is, and how amazing it is to look down the cliffs at the seals below, and how a coworker showed her husband my Facebook photos of it and he asked if it was a real place, as it was too beautiful for earth, or how I was asked where I downloaded my new screensaver from—and it was a Point Reyes photo I’d taken with my crappy digital camera, the colors were just that vivid—
…and I can’t help myself, I’m doing it now. I’ll cut to the important parts. Make sure you hike the Chimney Rock trailhead, and when you’ve walked to the end and looped around, carefully, carefully, take the trail to the right that with the sign that says “Unmarked Trail, please stay on designated trail.” Remember that the cliffs drop straight into the ocean, and if you get too close to the edge, so will you…but if you can stay 10 feet back from the edges, you’ll get some of the best views of Point Reyes.
The lighthouse is the best spot for whale watching in the early spring/fall, and it’s an all around gorgeous view; the lighthouse itself is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but you can still hike up to the point leading to it to whale watch. Bring binoculars to look at the seals below the overlook; it’s fun to watch them waddle slowly into the waves and then take off like speed demons. For a more close up look of seals napping ( a few feet away in some cases), visit the lifeboat station, the beach side is typically littered with relaxed seals less interested in hunting.
We spotted several Tule elk all over Point Reyes, though the majority of the herds are located in the northern part of the island. And while white tailed deer are pretty common across the US, there is something amazing about seeing a small herd line the ridge above you to stare at you (they particularly enjoy doing this at the Chimney Rock Trailhead parking lot, and did it both times we were there).
It’s important to not exceed the advised speed limit, and 4 wheel drive wouldn’t hurt (we had a Dodge Caliber rental, not so well suited to hair-pin turns). There’s often a steep drop five inches from the sides of the road, be forewarned. The road leading to Chimney Rock becomes a (very narrow) one lane road, and you’ll need to go slow to look out for opposite facing traffic. Plus, there’s pets near the ranches, and alot of wildlife that pops out of nowhere—it helps to be able to hit the brakes quickly. Last but not least — did I mention the place is incredibly beautiful and you must see it for yourself?
Filed under: North America | Tagged: beautiful, CA, California, Chimney Rock Trail, cliffs, coast, cow herds, deer, fresh flowers, hair-pin turns, Juror #17, lighthouse, old oyster farm, overlooks, peace, Point Reyes, Point Reyes lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore, quiet, San Francisco, seals, Tule elk, United States, US, views, white tailed deer, wildlife | Leave a Comment »