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“Classic california coast, with no crowds. Great winter option”

Point Reyes Seashore National Park
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$289.00*
and up
San Francisco 1-Hour Seaplane Tour with Shuttle Transport
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The 100 square miles of this spectacular coast are home to over 400 species of birds.
Reviewed December 29, 2013

Similar to the California coastline along Monterey, Point lobos, etc., yet a completely different vibe. It feels much more vast and desolate, hardly any folks due to it's remoteness.

Best visited in winter, when there's less chance of fog and wind. Check your forecast for a sunny winter day and go for it. The drive takes a while though, as you'll be spending quite some time along winding country roads. Took us over 2 hrs from the east bay (though google maps said 1.5 hrs).

Ideally you want to spend 2 (or more) days, and stay somewhere closer to the park (Inverness town, for example). That way you don't have to waste half your time driving. You can spend both days hiking, or a day of hikes and a day kayaking.

We visited recently for a day. With kids, so we did the two main short hikes - the climb down to the lighthouse and back, and then the Chimney rock trail. If you have to choose, go for the latter as the lighthouse itself is an old structure - no big deal, and chances of getting a clear close-up view of any whales are remote. The excellent chimney rock trail straddles the Pacific ocean and Drakes bay; with lots of elk and deer dotting the landscape.

Thank johnmani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 15, 2013

This place is a must-see for those who love National Parks, especially those poetically-inclined souls who love an empty windswept beach. Take the winding 20-mile-or-so drive across the peninsula to get to the Lighthouse and, on a quiet winter weekday, you can almost imagine Kate Bush singing "Wuthering Heights". (Note to Generations X and Y: look it up on the Internet). Be advisd that the roads here are - how do we put this tactfully? - of "federal" quality, i.e., they desperately need to be repaved.

Test your cardiovascular capacity by taking the many steps down to the Lighthouse - and then huffing your way back up again. The Lighthouse is only open for several days each week, so check before you arrive; but the Fresnel lens is still in place, for you lighthouse aficionados. The day we were there, the rangers actually closed the steps later in the afternoon, due to high winds (gusting to 40 MPH), so take your warm scarf.

There is a blacktail-deer herd near the Lighthouse. We also took a walk along the 2 1/4 -mile-long Limantour Spit on a December weekday, reached by a separate road. We were the only people on the actual landspit. The birdwatching was good (no, we won't say what we found - go and see for yourselves). In previous visits, we have seen the Tule Elk herd from the hiking track that goes to the northermost extent of the peninsula; we even saw a bobcat there once.

A shuttle-bus system has been put in place for the whale-watching season, from late December onwards for several months. Apparently lots of people show up to watch for passing grey whales. Once again, this Park is probably much better-appreciated on weekdays than on weekends. There is no admission charge.

The Bear Valley ranger station is a good place to start from. There are flush toilets there, and there is a trail that crosses the Fault Line, although signs of earthquake activity have been largely covered by Nature. There was a Botta's Pocket Gopher digging a burrow right outside the ranger station.

There used to be a small informal restaurant at the Drakes Bay visitor center, but the last word was that the lease had not been renewed, or something to that effect. So take all the food that you will need - and all the drinks too. A hot flask is recommended at any time of the year - the wind can blow hard here!

Thank ScienceTrip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 29, 2013

What a great park! We did two major hikes and one baby hike - all of which I would recommend. Go on the Earthquake trail - only 30 minutes but really interesting to walk right along the San Andreas fault! We also did the Bear Valley trail to Arch Rock (about 4 hours - flat and easy, through the woods and ending at the ocean with great view of Arches rock) and the Tomales Point trail (three hours but we did not make it the whole way). If I had to do it again would start with the Tomales trail - we saw coyote, elk and great ocean views. We had not factored in how long it would take to drive from the Visitor Center to the trail head. Also, be sure and get advice from the Rangers. They are very helpful.

1  Thank DuxieCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2013

We drove all the way down the Peninsula to the Lighthouse. On the way we passed by the historic ranches, and it was a beautiful drive.

It was busy up at the Lighthouse because it was a clear day though were were lucky to find a parking spot. We walked up to the platforms above the Lighthouse, for the incredible views of the main beach to the north. We could see for miles and miles. Plenty of birds and wildlife to see, and friendly park staff made this a wonderful visit.

Definitely go there if you can.

1  Thank ednacloud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2013

You will love this trip. Drive up scenic Hwy 1 from San Francisco and find yourself in absolute solitued. Endless beaches and walking trails. Stunning!

1  Thank DubaiMichael
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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