Natural History of the Point Reyes Headlands

Natural History of the Point Reyes Headlands

May 6, 2022
Explore the visually striking Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas for wildflowers, nesting seabirds, and a variety of marine mammals.

The area between the Lighthouse, Chimney Rock and Drakes Beach is one of the most visually striking parts of the national seashore.

In the spring its natural history is equally rich. Blooming paintbrush, lilies, iris and other wildflowers put on a dramatic and diverse display. Young or molting Elephant Seals rest on beaches while Harbor Seals, California Sea Lions and other pinnipeds feed in the rich marine habitat. Sometimes we see migratory Gray Whales, perhaps mothers with their nursing calves. Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre and Brandt’s Cormorant are some of the birds nesting in the area while loons, Surf Scoter and Brant migrate past the point, occasionally in the thousands.

The geology of this area, including old granitic cliffs and younger sedimentary deposits is equally diverse. All this and more contribute to a wonderfully rich tapestry of biological diversity. In several short hikes with minimal elevation gain we will explore this area and discover its full splendor.

David Wimpfheimer is a professional naturalist and biologist. After earning a degree in Biology from Beloit College he has pursed his passion, the natural history of the American West. For almost forty years David has shared his extensive knowledge about all aspects of the natural world with hundreds of groups including the Smithsonian Institution, California Academy of Sciences, Road Scholar, and Oceanic Society.

Photo Credit: Bill Helsel, used with permission


-We will be meeting at the Lighthouse Parking Lot

– Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to check in

– Refunds available for all classes 7 days in advance of the start date, after 7 days and before 2 days, participants can credit their class for a future date. All requests before 48 hours in advance will be declined. For COVID cancellation policy, see below.

– Please follow the parking instructions for the facility used that day

– Please provide an email you check regularly for updates and reminders about your class

– Registration is required online prior to the event in order to maintain class sizes

– Sales end 48 hours before the start date.

– Waitlists are available when the class sells out

What to Bring:

Binoculars are essential

Day Pack

Lunch Bag

Warm Variable Weather Clothing

Hiking Shoes

Water Bottle

Notebook and Pen/Field Journal

Eventbrite Confirmation Email

Camera (Optional)

About the PRNSA Field Institute:

The PRNSA Field Institute offers hands-on environmental education classes throughout the year that foster enjoyment of Point Reyes National Seashore. Our classes are led by expert instructors, who take you out of your everyday life and into the natural world. We host a variety of classes about the arts and sciences and have something for everyone. You can reach the Field Institute at (415) 663-1200 x304 or by email at

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For any questions, please email us at

COVID-19 Field Institute Guidelines

In accordance with Marin County and CDC guidelines for public health, we will require all participants to respect the following COVID-19 procedures:

• Perform a health self-check before coming to class using the CDC Symptoms of Coronavirus as a guide

• Do not attend class if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, suspect you have been exposed to the virus, or are suffering from any other flu-like or respiratory illness.

• Participants exhibiting signs of respiratory illness may be asked to leave class

During class all participants will be required to do the following

• Masks are optional outdoors for fully vaccinated individuals, but we recommend continuing to maintain a 4’-6’ distance from other participants or wearing a mask if gathered more closely together

• Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a face covering at all times

• Masks are optional indoors for vaccinated participants but strongly recommended

• Bring your own food and water

• We reserve the right to modify requirements as recommended by NPS regulations or local county health orders at the time of class

NOTE: Refund policy exceptions will be made for participants cancelling last minute due to COVID-19 infection or symptoms. Please contact us in this case.

Thank you for your continuing cooperation in following these guidelines to help keep everyone safe.