white pelicans

An Overview: Point Reyes Wildlife

The animal life found at Point Reyes National Seashore is as varied as the landscape itself, and ranges from large marine mammals such as the Blue whale to the relatively small, endangered Myrtle's Silverspot butterfly. Whether you choose to hike along the coastal hills or along the shore, you have a chance to encounter the abundant wildlife found at Point Reyes, including:

As you explore the park, you may also see or encounter a variety of cows, sheep and other domesticated animals as you pass through the historic A - Z ranches in the park's pastoral zone, where ranchers have been farming for over a 150 years! Learn how the National Park Service identifies, studies and monitors key Bay Area species by visiting San Francisco's Bay Area National Parks Science & Learning's website, or view their picture galleries

Use these tips to help us keep Wildlife WILD:

  • Hike in small groups. The quieter you are the better chance you will have of seeing animals in the wild.
  • Bring binoculars or a scope for the best viewing experience and keep a a good distance of 300 or feet or more between you and any animal.
  • Bring a guide book of local animals, or pick one up at one of our bookstores located in park visitor centers.  
  • Don't approach or feed wildlife - not only can they transmit diseases, but habituated animals can become aggressive and dangerous to visitors.
  • Pack food and trash out. Whether you are camping or just visiting for the day, don't leave any food or trash behind. This includes any compostables too. Do not throw apple cores, orange peels and the like into the wilderness. 
  • If you come across a baby animal, please leave it; the mother will return. Often the mother is off foraging while she leaves her young behind, but don't worry, she will come back. If you are really concerned, report it to a visitor center or ranger in the field, otherwise move on. 
  • Lastly, even the smallest caterpillar is important to the ecosystem; don't take them home as "pets" or remove them from their home. 

For further study, pick up Jules Evens, “A Natural History of the Point Reyes Peninsula,” and other field guides in our bookstores located in park visitor centers, or take a class with our Field Institute and learn from experts in the field.