Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Take the bus to see the Whales and Seals at Point Reyes National Seashore

December 17, 2009, 10:01 am
2010 Shuttle Bus Transportation System Begins as Whales and Seals Arrive!
 
As the gray whales migrate past Point Reyes National Seashore and the elephant seals return to the Point Reyes Headlands, so do lots of visitors. This means increased traffic on the narrow roadways and in the small parking lots—especially on weekends and holidays.
 
Gray Whales
 
Engaging in the longest migration of any mammal, each year the California gray whale swims 10,000 miles, spending about one-third of its life migrating from the cold, nutrient-rich waters of Alaska, to the warm, shallow lagoons of Baja California. Along the way, these incredible animals can often be seen from the shores of Point Reyes.
 
Jutting 10 miles into the Pacific Ocean, the headlands of the Point Reyes Peninsula offer one of the finest spots to view the gray whale. The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provides a 20-mile-wide "highway" along which the whales cruise; sometimes they travel in the close lane (nearer to shore), and sometimes they travel in the far lane (farther out to sea). The areas around Chimney Rock and the Point Reyes Historic Lighthouse offer some of the best whale watching spots in the park.
 
Elephant Seals
 
From December through March a breeding colony of elephant seals can be observed from Elephant Seal Overlook near Chimney Rock, above beautiful Drakes Bay. The males are the first to arrive here, in December, to stake out a claim on the beach. Pregnant females arrive shortly thereafter and soon give birth to a single pup. Subadult and juvenile animals arrive and the colony can number close to one hundred animals.
 
From the Overlook you can witness the fascinating behavior of these animals, including male dominance contests, birthing of pups and their subsequent interactions with their mothers. You will hear the distinctive vocalizations of females, pups and the powerful trumpeting of the adult males, which can be heard from more than a mile away.
 
Take the Shuttle
 
Since there is limited parking is available at prime viewing areas such as the Historic Lighthouse and Chimney Rock headlands, hop on the shuttle bus to ease congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Bus service runs on weekends and holidays in good weather.
 
Shuttle bus transportation begins Saturday, December 26, 2009, and runs through mid-April 2010. Ticket sales open at 9 a.m. at the Ken Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach and close at 3 p.m. Children ages16 and under are free, adult tickets are $5 per person and Federal Senior and Access pass discounts apply to the purchase.