FAQS

 

What time does the movie/slide show start at Bear Valley Visitor Center?

Audio-visual programs are shown upon request anytime the Bear Valley Visitor Center is open. There are six different audio-visual presentations:

"Enchanted Shores" - a 20-minute slide show with beautiful images of Point Reyes
"Life at the Water's Edge" - a 20-minute video about Snowy Plovers and Least Terns
"On A Barren Rock" - an 11-minute video about the Point Reyes Lighthouse
"Point Reyes: The Point of Kings" - a 15-minute orientation video
"Something Special" - a 22-minute orientation video introducing the park and local area
"Spark of Life: Fire at Point Reyes" - a 12-minute video about the 1995 Vision Fire

Can I use a metal detector at Point Reyes?

Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 2.1 (a) (7) prohibits the use or possession of metal detectors, magnetometers, and similar equipment within the jurisdiction of national park lands. However, such devices may be transported through park areas provided they are broken down, dismantled, and cased in such a way that prevents their ready use.

The hobby of metal detecting is generally considered to be "treasure hunting". Even if the user is searching for items of relatively low value, such as recently issued coins or the like, there is great potential loss of items with significant historical or cultural value. The National Park Service is mandated to protect historic features and artifacts for the enjoyment of future generations. Therefore, the use of metal detectors within park areas is considered to be incompatible with the mission of the Service.

My fiance and I wish to get married at Point Reyes. Do we need to get any permits?

Special use permits are required for all weddings and any other event or activity that would involve more than 100 people. For more information or to obtain a permit, contact the park's Special Use Coordinator at 415-464-5111.

Can I fish at Point Reyes?

Fishing is permitted under California State Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations. By state law, no fishing is allowed in:

Lagunitas Creek and all its tributaries including Olema and Bear Valley Creeks,
All coastal streams within the park,
Limantour Estero, or
Point Reyes Headlands Marine Conservation Area.
Certain Marine Protected Areas. See the Marine Life Protection Act page for more details.

For more information, visit the Fishing at Point Reyes page.

Where are good areas for birdwatching?

Drakes and Limantour Esteros, Abbotts Lagoon, Five Brooks Pond, and the Lighthouse area are all good places to view birds. Visit our Bird Watching page for more information.

Where is a good place to eat and sleep nearby?

Check our Where to Stay page for information regarding lodging and the West Marin Chamber of Commerce site for local places to eat. The park's Things To Know Before You Come page is also a great source of information to help you plan your visit to Point Reyes.

I only have so much time, what should I see/do?

For sample itineraries based on how much time you have to spend exploring Point Reyes, visit our Things To Do & See by Time page. 

Can I have a fire in the park?

Fires are allowed on beaches by permit only. Permits are issued free of charge on a same-day basis (the actual day you plan to have a fire) and may be obtained from any visitor center or from rangers in the field. For more information about fire regulations visit the Beach Fires page or call the Bear Valley Visitor Center at (415) 464-5100 x2 x5.

What time does the park close?

The park does not have an official closing time. However, all beach fires must be out by midnight and there is no overnight parking without a backcountry permit. Sleeping in parked vehicles is strictly prohibited within park boundaries.

Where can I see the tule elk?

The tule elk reside at the north end of the park on Tomales Point within the Tule Elk Reserve. A herd of nearly 400 elk may be seen there, often from the roadside and parking lot area near Pierce Ranch. Visit our Tule Elk page for more information.

Is there camping in the park?

Yes, however it is all backcountry (hike-in) camping; there is no car camping in the park. The nearest car camping is located at Olema Campground and Samuel P. Taylor State Park. For more information about camping in the park and surrounding area, visit the park Campgrounds and Backcountry Camping pages.

When is the best time to see whales?

Whales are most often sighted from January through April when the gray whale migration is under way. The gray whales migrate south from Alaska to Baja California, with peak viewing in mid-January. Mid-March is peak viewing for the northern migration with mothers and calves often passing very close to shore in April. 

Where are dogs allowed in the park?

Within Point Reyes National Seashore, dogs are allowed only on South Limantour Beach, North and South Point Reyes Beaches, and Kehoe Beach. They are not allowed on any hiking trails. Pets must be on a leash at all times; the leash must be no longer than 6 feet. Visit the Pet Regulations page for more information and information on seasonal closures.

Where can I find the trail that shows the fence displacement from the 1906 earthquake?

The Earthquake Trail is located across the parking lot from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. The trailhead can be found adjacent to the picnic area restrooms.

What hikes would you recommend?

There are countless awe-inspiring hikes throughout the Seashore. See the park's Trail Guide & Suggested Hikes page to find your perfect route. 

How long does it take to get to the Lighthouse?

From the Bear Valley Visitor Center, driving time to the Lighthouse parking lot is about 45 minutes. It will take you another 15 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the Lighthouse Visitor Center. The lighthouse itself is 300 stairs down the cliff face. The Lighthouse Visitor Center and the steps leading down to the Lighthouse are only open Thursdays through Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.