From the end of December to the middle of March, the California grey whale makes the longest known mammal migration from Alaska to Baja California, swimming past the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock along the park’s headlands. During the peak season weekends, the parks service runs a shuttle bus from the Drakes Beach parking lot, and there are docents and ranger-led programs to teach visitors about the giants of the blue. Bonus: this time of year is also prime elephant seal season, and you can see giant bulls and cows catching rays on the beach below Chimney Rock.
The annual Fungus Fair
California’s winter rains make for perfect conditions for wild mushrooms to grow, so each year, the Bay Area Mycological Society hosts the Fungus Fair to celebrate the fantastic fungi found within Point Reyes National Seashore. The free event features talks by local experts, and mesmerizing displays of colorful mushrooms collected within the park. If you miss the Fungus Fair in December, worry not, because the society hosts many other events, including collecting forays in February.
Point Reyes National Seashore Association activities
If you’re the kind of person who likes to pick up a little knowledge while you’re on vacation, you might want to look into the Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA), an organization that works with the park and the public to maintain and preserve the natural land. From guided hikes exploring hidden caves and secret beaches, to mushroom foraging and kayaking in the wetlands, the association has a wide range of activities to help you explore Point Reyes on a deeper level.
The seasonal ranger-led programs
All year long, you can find rangers at key locations in the park leading education programs covering fauna and flora, plus local history and geography on the weekends. But during the winter months, there are also rangers on hand at the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock to share information about the migrating whales and elephant seals.
The fogless views of the Point Reyes Lighthousep>As is the general rule of thumb in the San Francisco Bay Area, winter weather means clearer days because of the absence of the area’s ubiquitous fog. The colder months are the best to see the views of the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which is perched at the end of a long, steep staircase and often invisible behind the summer haze. In fact, almost everywhere you go within the park you’ll be rewarded with excellent scenery, from the shores of the beach to the top of valley. Just make sure you’ve got enough warm clothes, and if it’s rainy out, there’s always the comfy, cozy common room at HI Point Reyes hostel.
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This park is the kind of place where “middle of nowhere” meets “plenty to do.” Get right into the heart of it all with this perfect two-day itinerary and make the most of your Northern California escape.