Point Reyes National Seashore
A haven for hippies and a mecca for wilderness buffs, the Point Reyes area boasts acres of unspoiled forest and beach country in the grandest Northern California tradition. Expect cool weather even in the summer, but enjoy the lustrous green foliage and spectacular scenery that result.
Point Reyes National Seashore (Bear Valley Rd., 415/464-5100, www.nps.gov/pore, open daily dawn–midnight), the gem of the North Bay, stretches for miles between Tomales Bay and the Pacific, north from Stinson Beach to the tip of the land at the end of the bay. Dedicated hikers can trek from the bay to the ocean, or the beach to land’s end.
The protected lands shelter a range of wildlife. In the marshes and lagoons, a wide variety of birds—including three different species of pelican—make their nests. The pine forests shade shy deer and bigger elk. The land not protected often shelters and feeds some of the luckiest livestock in the country: the grass-fed cows and sheep of the local sustainable ranches.
The Point Reyes area includes the tiny towns of Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness.
Getting to Point Reyes can be quite a drive for newcomers. Though it’s only an hour or so north of San Francisco, Highway 1 isn’t exactly a superhighway through the wilds of Marin. Expect twists, turns, and generally slow going as you approach Point Reyes.
Once you’re in the Point Reyes region, Sir Francis Drake Highway and all the other paved roads are open to bicyclists, and motorcyclists ply the fabulous twisties, so keep an eye out when you’re driving from place to place. The good news is that parking is almost always free and easy in the towns and parks of Point Reyes.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition