Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Whale Watching at Point Reyes National Seashore

Gray Whale by Chris Johnson, NOAAAs the gray whales migrate past Point Reyes National Seashore and the elephant seals return to the Point Reyes Headlands, so do lots of visitors. Prime whale-watching time at Point Reyes is from January through March. Visitors can watch the whales from the shore or take a boat trip for a closer view of these majestic creatures. To make the most of your time, check with the park in advance about park programs and transportation to whale watching hotspots.

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.

Ranger-led Programs

The National Park Service offers a variety of ranger-led programs during whale and elephant seal season.

Whale Watching Boat Trips

Several tour companies offer whale watching boat trips. For more information about individual tours, contact the individual companies listed below.

• The Boat House, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3495

Bodega Bay Sports Fishing Center, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3344

Oceanic Society Expeditions, San Francisco, 415-474-3385

San Francisco Whale Tours, San Francisco, 415-706-7364

SF Bay Whale Watching, Sausalito, 415-331-6267

Will's Bait & Tackle, Bodega Bay, 707-875-232

For more information, visit the National Park Service page about Whale Watching at Point Reyes.

Image: Gray Whale by Chris Johnson, NOAA.