Visiting Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore
In Northern California’s Marin County, there lies a long stretch of rugged, protected coastline, full of beautiful beaches, dense forests, incredible wildlife, and craggy peaks. Point Reyes National Seashore is actually detached from the California mainland and became a protected area in 1962. Since its designation, millions of people have visited the park to enjoy its beautiful landscapes, which have made way for plenty of enjoyable activities, such as hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, backpacking, and more.
Because the area is so RV-friendly, this is an excellent destination to plan a family RV vacation. Here, we’ve listed a variety of enjoyable activities, as well as campgrounds for RVs, nearby attractions and nearby Harvest Hosts locations for ease in planning your next trip to Point Reyes National Seashore.
What to Do There
Point Reyes National Seashore offers dozens of hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. Because it is so beautiful, these trails tend to stay popular all throughout the year. Many trails encompass extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean and coastline.
One of the most popular easy trails in the park is the Chimney Rock Trail. This out-and-back trail is very popular and provides hikers with beautiful views of wildflowers and the rugged coast. In total, this hike spans 1.9 miles and gains little elevation.
The most popular moderate trail is the Tomales Point Trail. Despite the potential for crowdedness, this trail typically provides great opportunities for viewing various wildlife. There are almost always excellent photography opportunities, including excellent views of whales below. This hike is 9.4 total miles roundtrip and gains 1,177 feet in elevation.
Depending on one’s experience, the hike to Alamere Falls and Wildcat Camp via Bear Valley Trail borders between moderate and strenuous. Hikers begin at the ocean and hike to Alamere Falls, which come cascading onto Wildcat Beach, creating a beautiful site indeed. This hike is 17.4 miles roundtrip and gains 2,949 feet in elevation.
Point Reyes National Seashore is home to over forty varieties of land mammals, at least a dozen marine mammals, and many bird species. Species unique to this area include tule elk, elephant seals, harbor seals, whales, sea lions, and bobcats. Many of the seashore’s hikes include excellent opportunities to view and photograph the region’s unique wildlife.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse is located on the furthest section of the park’s Headlands. The lighthouse was built in 1870 to protect ships traveling between San Francisco and other locations along the northern coast. It retired in 1975 when an automatic lighthouse was built just below it. In order to reach the lighthouse, visitors must descend 313 steps (equivalent to 25 stories) to be able to tour it. Near the lighthouse is a visitor center and an Ocean Exploration Center, providing additional details on the area and park history.
Observing tidepools is a favorite activity when visiting the Pacific Northwest region. Visitors of all ages can enjoy slowing down and quietly observing the tiny sea creatures. Common marine animals, including mollusks, barnacles, sea stars, sea urchins, and more, can be found in tide pools. Please check the tide schedules before exploring on the beach and follow Leave No Trace’s tips for tidepooling etiquette.
Kayaking and canoeing are popular means of travel throughout the national seashore. Visitors can enjoy paddling through the Tomales Bay, Drakes Estero, and Estero de Limantour, and in the ocean. Be sure to check out any potential closures and become familiar with the marine protected areas found on their website.
Fishing is permitted within the national seashore, but a California fishing license is mandatory for fishers over sixteen years of age. Be sure to read up on the rules and regulations before fishing.
Camping in the Park
There are currently no campgrounds within the park that can accommodate RVs. The only options to camp within the national seashore are backcountry campgrounds.
At the time this article was written, the only way to partake in backcountry camping is by booking with recreation.gov, which is how one can obtain a permit. There are several campgrounds to choose from, all of which need to be hiked-in or boated-in to reach. Be sure to read up on the current rules and regulations of backcountry camping within the seashore.
Camping outside the Park
Luckily, RVers have quite a few options when it comes to campgrounds outside of the park. No matter what region or direction you’re coming from, you can likely find a nearby campground. Check out the National Parks Service’s helpful list of campgrounds in close proximity to Point Reyes.
Nearby Harvest Hosts
One of the perks of having a Harvest Hosts membership is the ability to skip the pricey, crowded campgrounds, in lieu of a relaxing, quiet overnight stay. The nearest Harvest Hosts locations are just about an hour way. Despite the distance, most of the drives lead visitors through scenic landscapes, which can add to the overall adventure.
Four Fools Winery
Members visiting this winery will find fantastic views and fantastic wines. The winery is situated right on San Pablo Bay and produces eight varietals. This Harvest Hosts location offers six reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Mayo Family Winery
First opened in 1990, Mayo Family Winery has always focused on producing small-batch, single vineyard wines. They produce about 5,000 cases annually and currently serve ten different varieties of wine. This Harvest Hosts location offers one reservable, pet-friendly space for an RV of any size.
Point Reyes National Seashore is a treasured, protected area. Between the untainted beaches, the at-peace wildlife, and the protected scenery, it’s easy to see why this area is so special. There are numerous activities for all visitors to enjoy, no matter what your interests may be.
Have you visited Point Reyes? What was your favorite part? If you haven’t been yet, what sounds like the most fun? Tell us about it in the comments!
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