Point Reyes National Seashore and GGNRA are two jewels for Bay
Area residents and visitors. Despite the stratospheric land values,
these coastal lands are open to all of us to explore and enjoy. Point
Reyes never feels crowded even though it is a short drive from San
Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The Point Reyes lighthouse draws many
visitors and whale watchers but there are also wild and empty beaches,
hiking trails, wetlands (a birder’s paradise) and meadows to explore.
As a national seashore, the coastal areas are managed like a national
GGNRA is well-known to San Francisco
residents who escape to the open spaces, cliff walks, pine forests and
ocean views of this national recreation area. Many do not realize
familiar landmarks like Alcatraz Island, Crissy Field, Muir Beach and
local favorite, Stinson Beach, are all part of GGNRA.
Print our map to help plan your travel
to Point Reyes or GGNRA. If you head to Point Reyes, try not to
miss the tule elk herd on the northern tip. For more detailed local
trip planning information
, go to the Top Destinations
section and select the Pacific Coast Highway
GGNRA and Point Reyes National Seashore
Established 1983 – GGNRA Open all year. No fee except for
Muir Woods and Alcatraz Island Muir Woods (415) 388-2595 $3 fee
Point Reyes (415) 663-1092, Visitors Center (415) 464-5100, lighthouse (415) 669-1534
HIGHLIGHTS: GGNRA and Point Reyes National Seashore extend north
along the coast from San Francisco, allowing visitors to explore these
varied lands on day trips or weekends. Land management along the
coast may be federal, state, county or private so watch for signs.
GGNRA wraps around San Francisco’s Presidio, a former military post,
along the coast to Crissy Field and Aquatic Park.
It is the largest urban national park, including 28 miles of
coastline and 75,000+ acres. Stunning views of the Pacific and
San Francisco Bay are available from the Coastal Trail and walkways.
Fort Mason offers historic ships and the National Maritime
Museum. Alcatraz Island tours via ferries at Fisherman’s Wharf
are so popular advance reservations are recommended. Across the
Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands has a redwood forest (Muir
Woods National Monument), mountain hiking at Mt. Tamalpais State Park)
and the area’s most popular swimming area, Stinson Beach. Nearby
Muir Beach is more intimate but less swimmable.
Further up the coast, Point Reyes feels remote despite its
proximity to the Bay Area. Vast rolling pastures, extensive
woodlands, meadows, coastal marshes and miles of beaches linked by
trails attract visitors all year long. At the northern tip near
Tomales Point, a herd of tule elk are easy to spot. A nice drive
to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse can include a march up 300 steps to the
lighthouse. From this often windy and sometimes foggy vantage
point, whales are visible during the winter migration.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking, birdwatching, backcountry camping (permit required), biking, camping, swimming, boating, kayaking.
WILDLIFE: Over 400 species of birds – osprey, red-shouldered hawk,
numerous shorebirds, western flycatchers, blue heron, common murres and
hummingbirds. On land, tule elk, black-tailed deer, bobcat, fox,
raccoon and skunk.
PLANT LIFE: Redwood, fern, fir, live oak, pine, poison oak, lupine and numerous other flowering plants.
MARINE LIFE: Sea lion, seal, migrating gray whale, Tomales Bay oyster.
TRAVEL TIPS: To find lodgings in Marin and around Point Reyes,
towns include Inverness, Pt. Reyes Station and Olema. Expect cool
fog along the coast and especially near the Golden Gate Bridge in late
DIRECTIONS: From San Francisco, access GGNRA trails from city
streets. Head across the Golden Gate Bridge on 101 (toll). For the longer, curvier drive, follow Highway 1 to the coast. Use
inland roads for faster travel – Sir Francis Drake Boulevard leads to
Point Reyes through the town of San Anselmo.