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Point Reyes Lighthouse

By Bridget M. Rohrer

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse

© 2000 Betsy Malloy and Licensors
  • Hours: You can see the lighthouse from the top of the stairway any time. The visitor center is closed some days and the stairs close when winds exceed 40 miles per hour. Check the Point Reyes website for the current schedule.
  • Cost: No admission fee
  • Location: West of California Hwy 1 north of San Francisco, see directions below
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time, but least foggy in spring and fall

Point Reyes Lighthouse is located in the foggiest area known in California, making it necessary to build it at the bottom of a cliff near the water to be visible to seamen navigating through the fog and along the coast in a rough storm.

The Lighthouse Visitor Center, located on the west side of Point Reyes peninsula, gives information on the structure erected in 1870 and about the lifesaving services performed during the 125 years it was used as a navigational guide.

The original clockworks and first-order Fresnel lens manufactured in 1867 are on display during limited hours, weather permitting.

On the first and third Saturday of the month, April through December, the light is illuminated. There is no fee to attend the evening program. Call 415-669-1534 on the day of the program for reservations.

If you plan to walk to the lighthouse, more than 300 steps plunge in a steep descent equivalent to a 3-story building and the only way you can get out is the way you got in, by walking! Point Reyes is one of the foggiest spots to be found, so bring warm clothing even when it's warm inland.

To learn more about life at the lighthouse, you can read a year of Point Reyes lighthouse keeper's logs from 1888, detailing the almost-daily repairs required to keep the station in working condition.

Visiting Point Reyes Lighthouse

With more than 2.6 million visitors annually, Point Reyes is a unique destination. Far more than a lighthouse situated on a Peninsula, Point Reyes is a distinctive park that was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

Additional information can be obtained from the Point Reyes National Seashore website.

Getting to Point Reyes Lighthouse

The long, scenic drive makes the lighthouse feel extremely distant from the San Francisco Bay. It is located at the end of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. You can get there via US 101 north of San Francisco, then west on Sir Francis Drake or by taking California Hwy 1 north to Olema. Once you get to the Point Reyes National Seashore entrance, it will take about an hour to drive out to the lighthouse.

So many people flock to Point Reyes in the winter to see the elephant seals and whale migrations that the park closes Sir Francis Drake Blvd. past South Beach on weekends when the weather is nice and runs a shuttle to the lighthouse. It usually operates from December through early April. You can catch it at the Drake's Beach parking lot and shuttle tickets are sold at the visitor center there.

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