Baby black-tailed deer at Point Reyes
There is more to Point Reyes than the famous lighthouse at the edge of a cliff. Home to a wide variety of wildlife, Point Reyes National Seashore offers unparalleled opportunities to spot birds and animals, both on land and in the sea. Black-tailed deer dot the windswept landscape, you will often spot them delicately munching on green grass, even while they keep their ears perked up, ready to spring away at the first sign of danger.
Point Reyes has a great variety of birds that live here year round as well as those passing by on migratory paths or just visiting for the wintering season. Nearly 490 species of birds have been counted in Point Reyes making it a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. Turkey Vultures are conspicuous all around the area as they fly to soaring heights with their red bald heads and long wingspan.
Elephant Seals are one of Point Reyes’ most popular and fascinating wildlife. Thousands of visitors visit the park each year to observe these amazing animals in their natural habitat. Their pupping and mating season runs from December through March, which is a great time to visit. The park has several vantage points like Chimney Rock and Elephant Seal overlook that provide a superb view of the animals.
Male Elephant Seals fighting for dominance
From a safe distance, visitors can observe the bull Elephant Seals assert their male dominance. This is determined by fighting contests with the older established male Elephant Seals. These fights are more aggressive, raucous and vigorous than you might imagine!
Mothers and pups resting on the beach in Point Reyes
During the pupping season, one can spot baby seals resting on the beach, in the care of their mothers. Taking binoculars is a great idea, this allows you to view the animals up close while maintaining a safe distance. On the weekend, docents and rangers frequent these viewing spots and answer questions about the Elephant seals and their current activity.
Tule Elk grazing
Point Reyes has one of the largest populations of Tule Elk in California. These impressively large animals are often seen wandering the verdant plains in Point Reyes. Tomales Point is one of the best places to spot these animals, as large herds are frequently found grazing and resting here.
Gray Whales seen from the Point Reyes lighthouse
Point Reyes is one of the best places in California to spot Gray Whales as they migrate along the Pacific Coast either on their way to Mexico going South or on their way back to Canada in the North. Point Reyes Lighthouse is situated at a vantage point that offers a wide view of the ocean. The best viewing spot is right at the top of the narrow steep staircase that leads down to the lighthouse. Watch patiently for that first blow of ocean spray that indicates a whale coming up for air and if you’re lucky you might even see a flipper, breach or tail flip!
Portrait of a Black-tailed deer
One of the best ways to truly enjoy all that Point Reyes has to offer is to stay overnight inside the park. Hostelling International’s Point Reyes Hostel is an unparalleled gem of a place to stay the night. The only accommodation located right inside the park, the Point Reyes Hostel is just a short drive to the lighthouse and the many trailheads from where one can view Point Reyes’ spectacular wildlife. Point Reyes National Seashore is a popular day trip from the Bay Area, but it is even more magical to stay the night and fully experience everything that this rugged wilderness has to offer.