Day Trip Along Pacific Coast Highway - 4th Stop - Tomales Bay and Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

Tomales Travel Blog

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Sunset over Tomales Bay

Since I saw something on the Fine Living channel about Tomales Bay, I've wanted to see this area and try fresh oysters!  I didn't take a lot of photos as we had planned to circle back through but ran out of time!  I definitely want to come back when it's warm and go kayaking to one of the secluded beaches you can camp on! 

Tomales Bay

This is a coastal estuary about 40 miles north of San Francisco.  It is about 12 miles long and pretty shallow as it is the end of a rift valley created by the San Andreas Fault line.  The northern end of the bay opens into Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean while the southern end has wetlands and Black Mountain near Pt Reyes Station.

Proof that happy cows DO come from California!!! LOL
  As you drive both sides of the bay, you are exposed to very contrasting coastlines.  The west side has Bishop pine and Douglas Fir in the Inverness Ridge.  The East side is open oak woodlands and grasslands with dairy and beef ranches.  Cows on the Pacific Ocean coast?!?!  No wonder the commercials say happy cows come from California!!!

Pt. Reyes

What a treat to see the Pt Reyes seashore and the lighthouse! Although it's a very long drive from the main highway, the views are breathtaking and absolutely worth it!  This is said to be the windiest point on the California coast and after trying to walk 1/2 mile against the wind just to get to the lighthouse observation deck, I won't disagree!!!  We arrived too late to tour the lighthouse itself but the views still made it completely worthwhile!!  And because we arrived late in the afternoon, the marine layer was beginning to roll in so some of my photos appear washed out and hazy - it's actually the marine layer and fog settling in.

Point Reyes Lighthouse from observation deck
 

Apparently on weekends from January through April, docents are stationed and you may see elephant seals or gray whales through binoculars!  Watching the gray whale migration was an annual treat when I lived in Southern California growing up!

When you get up to the lighthouse observation deck, there are several exhibit boards that talk about the history of the lighthouse and why it is located so far down on the cliffs!  Not only is this the windiest place on the Pacific Coast, it's the second foggiest stop in the whole North American continent!  The Point Reyes headlands which jut 10 miles out to sea are an obvious danger to ships entering or leaving the San Francisco Bay.  By placing the lighthouse so far down, it is not affected by the thick fog! The Point Reyes Lighthouse was in operation from 1870 to 1975 when the Coast Guard installed an automated light.

Point Reyes Seashore as the fog begins to set in
  The lighthouse is now owned and operated by the National Park Service. 

One interesting note I found out after visiting is it withstood the massive 1906 earthquake wherein the entire peninsula and lighthouse moved north 18 feet in less than one minute!  The only damage the lighthouse sustained was the lens which slipped off its tracks!  After experiencing a few hefty earthquakes growing up in California, it is amazing to think it could've survive with such little damage. 

TRE69 says:
Great blog...it is truly beautiful our there! Would love to go back and camp too!:P
Posted on: Apr 01, 2008
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Sunset over Tomales Bay
Sunset over Tomales Bay
Proof that happy cows DO come from…
Proof that happy cows DO come fro…
Point Reyes Lighthouse from observ…
Point Reyes Lighthouse from obser…
Point Reyes Seashore as the fog be…
Point Reyes Seashore as the fog b…
Trees along lighthouse path - noti…
Trees along lighthouse path - not…
trees along Hwy 1 in this area
trees along Hwy 1 in this area
Coyote along the roadside
Coyote along the roadside
Tomales Bay
Tomales Bay
Tomales Bay headed south to Point …
Tomales Bay headed south to Point…
Tomales Bay
Tomales Bay
Sun setting over Tomales Bay
Sun setting over Tomales Bay
Cows on the road into Point Reyes
Cows on the road into Point Reyes
Yes...I actually did take pics wit…
Yes...I actually did take pics wi…
Yeah...we got stuck in a real cow …
Yeah...we got stuck in a real cow…
Stairs down to the lighthouse - th…
Stairs down to the lighthouse - t…
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Sun starting to set on the coast
Sun starting to set on the coast
Large ship off the coast
Large ship off the coast
The device used to catch and store…
The device used to catch and stor…
Drakes Bay - hazy due to marine la…
Drakes Bay - hazy due to marine l…
California Grey Whale
California Grey Whale
Point Reyes Conglomerate - estimat…
Point Reyes Conglomerate - estima…
Tomales
photo by: lcd1nonly