Getting on/off a motorcoach. Drive to Point Reyes is 22 miles and takes up to 60 minutes. Walking approximately 3 miles over the course of the day. Descent of 308 steps to reach the Point Reyes Lighthouse. There are two spots along the staircase to stop and rest. If you do not want to go to the lighthouse, you can still observe it from an elevated area (fog permitting). Please note: lighthouse may be closed at any time due to high winds/fog. If closed, an alternative area will be explored.
In the hotel restaurant, the daily breakfast buffet offers a variety of choices such as an egg dish, breakfast meat, hot/cold cereals, fruit, yogurt, bread assortment, milk, juices, coffee (regular/decaf), tea (iced/hot), water.
We will board our motorcoach for a field trip to Point Reyes with expert commentary en route. The national seashore was established in 1962 to preserve and protect wilderness, natural ecosystems, and cultural resources. The land mass of Point Reyes began a geological journey millions of years ago 350 miles south of its current location. The rock in Point Reyes is the same granite found in the Tehachapi Mountains located in Kern and Los Angeles Counties in southern California. Our first stop will be the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Designed to blend in with the historically significant ranching culture of the area, it is located in the heart of the Olema Valley. Next, we will walk the Earthquake Trail. On April 18, 1906 at 5:12 a.m., San Francisco and the Bay Area were violently awakened by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was in Point Reyes. Our naturalist will explain how Point Reyes moved 21 feet north as the result of the earthquake. The San Andreas Fault separates Point Reyes from the rest of Marin County. Point Reyes is uniquely positioned on the Pacific Plate. The rest of Marin County as well as the rest of the continental United States is on the American Plate. We are truly in a different world at Point Reyes! Our next stop is Drakes Beach, one of many beautiful beaches throughout the national seashore. In 2012, the federal government officially recognized this beach as the site where Sir Francis Drake landed in June 1579 and claimed California for England. Drakes Beach is a wide stretch of beach backed by dramatic white sandstone cliffs. The sands of the cliffs were deposited in a shallow sea 10-13 million years ago, compacted, then uplifted. Erosion has revealed this history in the cliff faces. We will be on the lookout for birds, elk, and some marine mammals. With close to 490 species recorded, more than 50 percent of the bird species in North America, Point Reyes has the greatest avian diversity in any national park.
At picnic tables near Drakes Beach, we will have box lunches with a sandwich, fruit, chips, dessert, water. There are bathrooms located here.
Next, we reboard the motorcoach and have continued expert commentary as we drive to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Built in 1870, the lighthouse heeds the warning to boats that are traversing the foggiest and windiest spot on the Pacific Coast. Accessible only by a 308-step staircase built in 1939, the sixteen-sided tower can be fogged in for weeks on end. Our last stop of the day is a special program highlight. We will ride to Chimney Rock at the eastern spur of the Point Reyes Headlands for stunning views of Drakes Bay and the coastline stretching to the southeast. It is also the only area within Point Reyes to view elephant seals. While it is usually possible to view northern elephant seals from here, December through March is the period when several hundred elephant seals haul out at the southwest end of Drakes Beach to mate and give birth. Pups can still be seen in April and May. Whales may also be sighted from Chimney Rock during the months of January through May. In addition to a feast of marine mammal sightings, the wildflower blooms at Chimney Rock peak in March and April.
At a restaurant in the nearby town of Point Reyes Station, we will have a 3-course plated meal with salad, choice of entrée (including vegetarian) plus popovers, and dessert of the day (fruit alternative), with beverage choices of coffee (regular/decaf), tea (iced/hot), water; other beverages available for purchase.