Ranger-Guided Programs

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Below is a listing of Ranger Guided Programs that were regularly offered at Point Reyes National Seashore before the COVID-19 pandemic. Program schedules are subject to change. Consult our Calendar for an up-to-date schedule of ranger-led programs and volunteer activities. Check back immediately prior to your visit for the most up-to-date information and times. Programs are not offered on December 25.

All programs are free of charge and, unless otherwise noted, no reservations are required.

Teachers and Educators: For Ranger-Led Educational Offerings, please visit our For Teachers pages.

Groups of 15 or more: Please contact the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 415-464-5100 x2 x5 in advance of attending one of the following programs so that staff can make the necessary preparations for the extra participants.

 

Year-Round Programs

Weekend Ranger's Choice Programs - CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

1:30 pm, most weekend days.

Come join a Park Ranger to learn more about Point Reyes National Seashore's natural and cultural history. Topics may cover earthquakes and plate tectonics, the Coast Miwok, Sir Francis Drake, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, or area flora and fauna. Some presentations may use the park's Science On a Sphere® to help explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Check the program schedule on our Schedule of Events: Weekends Ranger Programs page, or stop by or call the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 415-464-5100 x2 x5 for information about today's program. Some programs may require up to a 1.6 kilometer (one mile) walk on easy to moderate trails. Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Lasts 1 to 1.5 hours.

 

Whale and Elephant Seal Season Programs

 

Experience Elephant Seals

Weekends and holidays, late-December through March. Volunteer docents will be stationed in the parking lot and pathways adjacent to the beach at Drakes Beach from 10 am to 5 pm and, as volunteer staffing allows, at the Elephant Seal Overlook near Chimney Rock from 11 am to 4 pm. View an elephant seal colony through binoculars and scopes. Ask docents about the amazing adaptations and life cycles of northern elephant seals.

 

Historic Point Reyes Boathouse Open House

Weekends and holidays, late-December through mid-March. Open House 11 am to 4 pm (as volunteer staffing permits).

Visit a site where heroes of our coast were housed. See the historic lifeboat, view exhibits, and experience 80 years of lifesaving history at Point Reyes. Kids activities, a 10-minute video on elephant seals, and complimentary hot beverages (cocoa, tea, coffee) will be available. Hands-on interactive activities allow both children and adults to learn about seal and whale adaptations.

 

Journey of the Whales - CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

1:30 pm, weekends and holidays, late December through April, as staffing allows.

Join a Ranger to learn about gray whales as they migrate past Point Reyes. Learn about their habits and adaptations, and hope for a whale sighting from the Observation Deck. Program lasts ~30 minutes.

This program is given out-of-doors. Come prepared for windy, cold, and damp weather.

Meet at the Lighthouse Visitor Center.

 

Experience Gray Whales

Weekends and holidays, late December through late April, weather permitting and as volunteer staffing allows. Volunteer docents will be stationed at the Lighthouse Observation Deck from 11 am to 4 pm to answer questions about gray whales. Visitors will be able to view gray whales through park-provided binoculars and scopes.

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Lighthouse Programs

 

A Look into the Lens - CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

2:30 pm through 4 pm, Friday through Monday, mid-April through December.
Operational Changes which began on May 1, 2013: A Look into the Lens is no longer offered on Thursdays.

See inside the Point Reyes Lighthouse and discover its history and function with a Park Ranger. Access requires a strenuous descent and ascent of 310 stairs. The stairs close when weather and winds are hazardous, i.e., if the winds are in excess of 40 mph (64 km/h).

The Visitor Center and the stairs leading down to the Lighthouse may close early at 2 pm on December 24 and are closed all day on December 25. No programs are offered on these days.

Learn More:

Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse
Lighthouse History at Point Reyes

 

Illuminating the Point Reyes Light - CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

During 2015, the program was offered on the first and third Saturday of the month, July through September 5, 2015. Low staffing levels prevented us from offering this program during the summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018, and the Lighthouse Restoration Project prevented us from offering this program in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from offering this program in 2020 and 2021. The 2022 schedule for the Illuminating the Point Reyes Light program has yet to be determined.

Start times vary depending on sunset. The program used to begin about a half-hour before sunset, but, due to safety concerns, now begins about 1.5 hours before sunset in order for the program to conclude early enough for participants to return to their vehicles before dark.

Experience the Point Reyes Lighthouse just before sunset. Learn about the lives of the keepers and the operation of the light. Space is limited on this popular program. Group size is limited to 8.

Reservations are Required

Call 415-669-1534 after 10 am the day of the tour for times and reservations. The program will be cancelled if winds exceed 40 mph. Call back between 4 pm and 4:30 pm to confirm status of program.

Come Prepared

  • Wear very warm clothes as the weather is often cold and windy.
  • Bring a flashlight for the 0.6 km (0.4 mile) walk back to your car if you decide to wait until after sunset to return.
  • Meet at the Lighthouse Visitor Center. Allow at least 1 hour to travel from the Bear Valley Visitor Center to the Lighthouse Visitor Center.
  • Access to the Lighthouse requires a strenuous descent and ascent of 313 steps.

Lasts 1 hour.

Learn More:

Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse
Lighthouse History at Point Reyes

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Seasonal Programs

Daily Ranger's Choice Program

The park offered Ranger's Choice programs at 1:30 pm on weekdays from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Friday, April 6, 2018. No daily programs were offered during Spring Break in 2019, 2020, or 2021. No decision has yet to be made regarding whether programs will be offered during Spring Break in 2021.

The park offered Ranger's Choice programs at 1:30 pm on weekdays from Thursday, December 26, 2019, through Monday, December 30, 2019. This program was cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No decision has yet to be made regarding whether programs will be offered in late December of 2021.

Come join a Park Ranger to learn more about Point Reyes National Seashore's natural and cultural history. Topics may cover earthquakes and plate tectonics, the Coast Miwok, Sir Francis Drake, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, or area flora and fauna. Some presentations may use the park's Science On a Sphere® to help explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Stop by or call the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 415-464-5100 x2 x5 for information about the days' program. Some programs may require up to a 1.6 kilometer (one mile) walk on easy to moderate trails. Most programs start at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Lasts 1 to 1.5 hours.

 

Summer Programs

Daily Ranger's Choice Program - CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

1:30 pm, most weekdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Come join a Park Ranger to learn more about Point Reyes National Seashore's natural and cultural history. Topics may cover earthquakes and plate tectonics, the Coast Miwok, Sir Francis Drake, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, or area flora and fauna. Some presentations may use the park's Science On a Sphere® to help explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Check the program schedule on our Schedule of Events: Summer 2019 Daily Ranger Program page, or stop by or call the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 415-464-5100 x2 x5 for information about today's program. Some programs may require up to a 1.6 kilometer (one mile) walk on easy to moderate trails. Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Lasts 1 to 1.5 hours.

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Last updated: January 20, 2022

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station , CA 94956

Phone:

415-464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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