The approach to Point Reyes National Seashore is along narrow, winding roads through the coastal hills - either the main Pacific highway California Route 1, which despite its fame is also thin and bendy in many places - or along the country roads from San Rafael, Novato and Petaluma.
The land hereabouts is gently undulating, covered by a mixture of grassy fields and small woods, mostly undeveloped apart from scattered farms and houses. The only town of note near the ocean is Point Reyes Station
, a small settlement 2 miles from the south end of Tomales Bay and right in the middle of the San Andreas Fault Zone. The town has a few shops, restaurants and a gas station. Some of the land to the south, adjoining the national seashore, is part of Golden Gate NRA
, and is also crossed by a few paths. The visitor center for the national seashore is located a little way further south in Bear Valley
, near the village of Olema, in a field at the edge of the wooded hills that characterize the east side of the Point Reyes peninsula. It is quite a large building, often with several hundred people in attendance on busy summer days, reflecting the general popularity of the park, as despite the relatively difficult access, the proximity to San Francisco ensures many visitors. Unlike most NPS units there is no drive-in campground, only four campsites accessible to hikers - two on the coast and two in the hills, and as the majority of the land away from the park is privately owned, free camping is not generally possible either. The best nearby commercial site is at Dillon Beach
, 25 miles north of Bear Valley along Route 1, where dispersed camping is provided on a large area of sand dunes and grassy fields.
ActivitiesFour main roads
(Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Pierce Point Road, Mesa Road and Limantour Road) allow vehicular access to some parts of the Point Reyes peninsula, and the latter ends right beside the coast, at Limantour Beach. Several spur roads also lead to beaches, while many more sections of the coastline, the northern grasslands and estuaries, and the wooded interior, may be seen by hiking
- single trails range from less than half a mile to over 15 miles in length, and many loop hikes are possible. Some routes are also open to cyclists and horse riders. Besides the varied scenery, attractions include birds, other wildlife (the largest creatures are elk, whales and sharks), wildflowers, and historic structures, such as the lifeboat station and lighthouse on the tip of Point Reyes, and around 20 working cattle ranches, established in the 19th century.
Point Reyes Hotels
The closest towns with hotels near Point Reyes are (with distances from the Bear Valley Visitor Center): Petaluma
(20 miles), Novato
(20 miles), Larkspur
(21 miles), Corte Madera
(22 miles), Mill Valley
(24 miles) and San Francisco