California North Coast

Rewarding Day At Point Reyes National Seashore

As promised, here’s a look at Point Reyes National Seashore on a fabulously beautiful day.

Pierce Ranch buildings at the northern tip of the park

Unlike most national parks, people still live and work within its boundaries. There are over a dozen dairy and cattle ranches dating back to 1852 still in operation, plus an oyster farm. Back in the mid-20th century, developers wanted to turn the whole area into a new city. After a long battle, that was defeated and now this incredible part of west Marin County is preserved for everyone to enjoy. Including around 450 tule elk, which is what brought us to the park yesterday. They had been extirpated from the area by 1860. Nearly a century later, they were re-introduced. They are smaller than the better-known Roosevelt elk, whose southern-most range stops about 300 miles north in Humboldt County.

tule elk grazing

Tule elk; what a backdrop! The Pacific Ocean

Tule elk; part of a herd of about sixty

When it comes to wildlife, one never knows what to expect. We had great luck and saw four different herds, all from the road. I didn’t have my long lens, so these images were taken with the 28-300. You can see that the elk weren’t very far away. Below are more images of other parts of the park.

Looking north; elk are to the left

Native Douglas iris; it was blooming in big clumps all through the park

Near the lighthouse at the southern-most point, looking north along beach

Drake's Bay, to the east of previous image, looking south towards San Francisco

Yes, THAT Drake. Sir Francis Drake made a landfall here in 1579. He stayed here about five weeks, hauling the Golden Hinde onto the beach to careen her, which means pulling her out of the water and leaning her on her side to clean the hull of barnacles and seaweed. He and his crew encountered local Miwok indians who supplied them with boiled fish and meal ground from wild roots.

Another of the old ranches; on our way out of the park

Point Reyes, as you can imagine, is a magnet for local and visiting plein air painters. Now that I’ve been able to reconnoiter, we’ll plan a future trip so we can stay in the area and have time for me to paint, too. There are a lot of small resort motels, a private campground in Olema and vintage hotels, B&Bs and good restaurants in Point Reyes Station. We had lunch at the Pine Diner. Cobb Salad to die for.

More on Point Reyes on the official site here

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