Species to Look Out For
About the Park
Inverness, Ca – National Seashore
Science Spotlight: Common Murres at Point Reyes
Point Reyes National Seashore has recorded nearly 490 species of birds – over 50% of the birds found in North America. This makes the area the most species-diverse park in America’s National Park System.
When hiking down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, Dan and I caught a whiff of a smell on the breeze that brought me back to my summers spent monitoring nesting herring gulls. The smell was distinctively… seabird. Naturally, this piqued my interest. We stopped for a moment at one of the lookout sites, and within minutes found a colony of common murres in the distance.
Common murres are the most abundant nesting seabird found off the coast of north and central California, and several colonies make their home at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the mid-1980’s, the common murre suffered a severe population decline due to entanglement in fishing nets and the culmination of several oil spills along California’s central coast. Murre restoration projects have brought rising numbers and hope to the species populations, but they remain threatened by the consequences of a changing climate.
The Coast Miwok Native Americans occupied the area that we know now as Point Reyes for thousands of years. The first known European explorer to visit the area was Sir Francis Drake, who arrived to Point Reyes in 1579.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse, constructed in 1870, rests at the second foggiest place in North America. The lighthouse was replaced with an automated light in 1975, but it still remains as a museum piece with the National Park Service.
Visit the Park
Please note that there is no entrance fee to enter the park. Dogs are allowed on leashes.
With a total of 71,028 acres of protected land, you’ll certainly take a long time to run out of places to explore at Point Reyes. The Tule elk, a subspecies of elk only found in California, can sometimes be seen on the sides of roads or on grassy hillsides. We recommend completing the 1+ mile hike down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which offers seasonal views of common murres and gray whales. That said, anywhere you go will be rich in wildlife and scenic views.
Please note that during whale watching season (late December to mid-April), the main road to the lighthouse is closed to private vehicles. Be sure to check the shuttle information if you plan on visiting during that time.
Here are some helpful resources to plan your visit:
- Point Reyes National Seashore Park Map
- Directions to Point Reyes
- Current Weather Conditions at Point Reyes
- Upcoming Events at Point Reyes
- Planned Trip Itineraries at Point Reyes
- Accessibility Guide for Point Reyes
- Pets at Point Reyes National Seashore