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Just a one-hour drive north of San Francisco – and what a drive! – this 75,000-acre coastal wilderness comprises a triangular-shaped peninsula that is gradually drifting north along the San Andreas Fault: it has migrated north 300 miles during the last six million years. At the Bear Valley Visitors Center visitors, jaws agape, can see how the peninsula moved north 20 feet during the 1906 earthquake. Windswept beaches pounded by powerful waves seem to sweep into infinity; swimming is not a good idea. The stupendous scenery builds with every mile along the single road that twists and dips magnificently through cattle and dairy farms, such as ...

Just a one-hour drive north of San Francisco – and what a drive! – this 75,000-acre coastal wilderness comprises a triangular-shaped peninsula that is gradually drifting north along the San Andreas Fault: it has migrated north 300 miles during the last six million years. At the Bear Valley Visitors Center visitors, jaws agape, can see how the peninsula moved north 20 feet during the 1906 earthquake. Windswept beaches pounded by powerful waves seem to sweep into infinity; swimming is not a good idea. The stupendous scenery builds with every mile along the single road that twists and dips magnificently through cattle and dairy farms, such as Pierce Point Ranch, which has a self-guided trail. The road leads eventually to Point Reyes Lighthouse, dating from 1870 and reached down a flight of 300 steps from a wind-beaten and often fog-bound headland that is a great place to spot whales in winter. Wildlife abounds, including a herd of Tule Elk in an eponymous Reserve. Birders flock for the migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. For close up views, take to a canoe to explore Abbott's Lagoon or Drake's Bay – named for where Sir Francis Drake careened the Golden Hind for repairs in 1579, claiming the land for England.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: A 70,000-acre (280 km2) park preserve located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, California.
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Anytime of year is good. Although winter is cold, it is often crystal clear and offers great whale-watching. Fog is possible any time of year.