The Race Rocks Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse beside Fisgard Lighthouse which was finalized only 6 weeks before in 1860. It was in operation from December 26th, 1860 until 1997.
You may pass the Race Rocks Ecologic Reserve during a whale watching tour. If the sea is calm and it's sunny, you will be able to spot marine mammals.
If you are kayaking and experienced in open sea kayaking, you can plan a tour from Pedder Bay Marina. To cross the one nautical mile passage over to Race Rocks should only be attempted by experienced paddlers. You need to have the necessary skills to handle the potentially hazardous currents and waves that can be experienced in this area. Therefore checking the weather forecast and the currents for Race Passage is essential.
Make sure you know the guidelines published for accessing or approaching the Ecologic reserve as at Race Rocks the aim is to restrict any activity which causes birds and mammals disturbance. It's recommended to not approach closer than 100 meters to any marine mammal, including those on the rocks.
Although fog can appear at any time at Race Rocks, it is more likely in August and September. During these months you will be faced with strong winds >25 mph. Precipitation Is on average per year between 300 and 500 mm and only the summer months are relatively dry.
Many trails lead to Alamere; these three hikes are the most common ones to get to the falls:
Several trails are leading to the Alamere Falls. We'd chosen the shortest one. Continue reading to get all necessary information for an awesome hike and waterfall experience. During summer from July to September, the Park is often covered in fog while the inland has sunshine and warm temps.
It is quite a popular park due to the close location to San Francisco. The Alamare Falls are much loved, and the Palomarin car park already fills up early morning at weekends. If possible hike to the falls mid-week. If you can’t get a parking space, you have to queue or leave. Shoulder parking is not permitted.
Best Time to Start the Hike
Mid-week start your hike to the Alamare Falls around two to three hours before low tide depending on the trail you choose. At weekends and in the summer months start early to get a parking lot. Tide times for the hike to the Alamere Falls or check at the Bear Valley Information Center
Tip for Photographers
Best light for a good shot of the falls is after midday.
If you do the hike on a hot summer day bring your bath cloth for swimming in the Pelican Lake, the last on the right on your way back.
Points of Interest Inside the Park
If hiking to the falls try to combine your visit with one of the other attractions depending on the day and month of your visit;
- Point Reyes Lighthouse built in 1870
300 steps leading down to the picturesque lighthouse with a spectacular view if it is not foggy. Unfortunately, only open from Friday to Monday.
- Chimney Rock
The overlook is close to the lighthouse to spot elephant seals while breeding during December to March. Many visitors want to observe the spectacle which causes much traffic and shuttle buses are offered.
- Tule Elk Reserve on Tomales Point
These specific elks were reintroduced in 1978. It’s a more than 9 miles / 15 km hike on the peninsula to Tomales Bluff and back. A shorter option is the 2 miles / 3.2 km hike to Windy Gap and back where you may spot elks at a spring. The Tule Elk Rut Season from around August to late October/beginning of November is a spectacular time.
- Migrating gray whales can be spotted around the lighthouse and Chimney Rock between January to April. Humpback whales migrate past Point Reyes from November to March.
Weather / Climate
Point Reyes has a coastal climate with dry summer and cool winter. Only very view rain occurs from mid-April to October. Most of the precipitation happens from December to March. It’s often windy at Point Reyes, and very strong winds are common in November and December. Fog occurs in summer mostly from July to September. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.
Where to Stay (bookmark the links)
We recommend spending minimum two days in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The park has so much to offer; outstanding nature, wildlife, several hiking trails, and coastline. We'd been here already twice and still haven't seen all of its beauty. Situated inside the park is the HI Point Reyes Hostel. Next to the park in Olema is the quiet and lovely The Lodge of Point Reyes with an excellent restaurant. Probably the best accommodation in this area.