For the first time when visitng my son and family in Santa Rosa, we ventured out to Point Reyes National Seashore. What a lovely place and full of wildlife. The drive from Highway 101 from Petaluma (south of Santa Rosa) to the coast takes you through beautiful pastureland and dairy farms plus a couple of tiny settlements.
Pt Reyes is a peninsula that juts out from the coast and protects one of the few undeveloped coastal areas. It encompasses rocky headlands, expansive sand beaches, open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges. There's a great diversity of plant and animal life. Point Reyes has the distinction of being only one of 11 places where elephant seals breed. We saw this bull in the visitor center - you can get an idea of how large they are. Down on the beach the "weenies" from last year had arrived, possibly some females, but the bulls had not yet come. The viewing platform is quite a ways above the beach. The photos are zoomed in and cropped; if you have binoculars, bring them.
Here are a couple more photos of the elephant seals.
We drove to the lighthouse. Since there are 300 steps down and back up and three of the five of us did not want to do steps, Chris, my grandson and I, hiked up the hill and then took photos from the overlook. His came out the best - the sun was shining directly into our cameras. Later we spotted 10 bull elks gathered together. Perhaps the rut is later here than in the mountains of Arizona or in the Rockies? By now, they would have gathered their harems in most places. Chris took the elk shot too though I photoshopped the barbed wire out!
From the top of that hill we had views of the beach stretched out for miles. Another mammal that was quite common was mule deer. Lots of bucks with full antlers. They sure blend into the terrain.
The only camping in the national seashore is hike in or boat in camping. RVers could stay at Bodega Dunes in Sonoma Coast State Park and then drive down. We were able to drive our car to the lighthouse. At certain times, however, you are required to take a shuttle and the road is closed. And, in winter, the lighthouse is not open as many days/week.Check the website or call before visiting.
On the road to the lighthouse and the section for viewing the seals, you'll pass a number of working historic dairy farms. More than 60 historic buildings are scattered throughout the park. There is also excellent hiking. Another nice feature is that there is no admission fee. Point Reyes is definitely worth a stop. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Photos by Chris Carroll, George Bruzenak, Jaimie Bruzenak