Corbitt's National Parks
     Point Reyes
               National Seashore


1962: National Seashore

Size: 71,068 acres

2008 visitors: 2,248,203

Stamp: yes

Rating (1-5):

About the Site

Point Reyes is a peninsula north of San Francisco, California, known for long beaches and dramatic cliffs, lagoons and estuaries. Forested ridges, and offshore bird and sea lion colonies are also part of the attraction.

Geologists had long wondered how the craggy rocks of the Point Reyes Peninsula matched the Tehachapi Mountains more than 310 miles to the south? We know who to blame now - the San Andreas Fault! These rocks ride atop the Pacific plate, that creeps northwest about two inches a year. In nearby Olema, close to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, the North American plate holds steady. It's this continual strain and grinding that was responsible for the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, when the peninsula jumped 20 feet to the northwest!

Sir Francis Drake rested his ship, the Golden Hind, in Drakes Estrero as he prepared to complete his trip around the world in 1579. The local Miwok people helped supply his crew with food. It was nearly 200 years before other Europeans began to settle the area. San Francisco Bay wasn't discovered until 1769!

What You're Going to See

Rolling grassland and seashores make this a great destination. Bicycling, horseback riding, camping and exploring are all great things to do here. There are three visitors centers in different parts of the Seashore. At the main station, Bear Valley, the Park Service has a stable and horses (the Morgan horse corral) so Park Rangers can easily and economically survey the Seashore. There's a herd of albino deer there, descendents of a group imported from Europe years ago.

What you're going to see depends on where you go. The rolling grasslands are easily visited, the craggy coastline is more difficult to reach. It's all beautiful, however, and if you enjoy camping and hiking, this can't be beat.

Personal Observations

Driving up to the Bear Valley visitors center, we saw a herd? a group? a pod of what looked to be seals on a sand bar about a hundred yards off the highway. Then we enjoyed talking to the rangers about their horses; our girls were particularly entranced. But what I loved was the earthquake trail. There's a short mile loop walk that goes past the EXACT EPICENTER of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Signs show the fence that was moved 18 feet by the temblor.

We saw hawks and birds of all kinds, and had fun climbing old trees. The weather was gorgeous in July.

Getting There

From San Francisco, take Highway 101 north over the Golden Gate Bridge. Then at Tamalpais Valley you can turn west on Highway 1, scenic and twisting as it circles around Muir Woods, and follow it all the way to Olema and the one-mile turnoff to the Bear Valley visitors center. Or, continue on Highway 101 to just north of San Rafael, and turn west on Sir Frances Drake Boulevard; follow it to the Seashore.

Nearby Attractions

Within 40 miles of Point Reyes you will find: Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, John Muir National Historic Site, Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, Fort Point National Historic Site, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Aea, Muir Woods National Monument, and Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site. Let's not forget California Coastal National Monument either.

Visited July 2003.