The Point Reyes Lighthouse itself is 150 meters (0.1 miles) beyond the Visior Center at the base of some 300 steps – the equivalent of 30 stories. The lens room, which houses the original clockworks and first-order Fresnel lens that were manufactured in 1867 and installed in 1870, is open from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays as staffing and weather conditions permit. The lower chamber of the historic lighthouse has exhibit panels on the history of the light and the keepers. The equipment building next to the lighthouse exhibits the two 1947 super typhon foghorns, the air compressors, and a backup power generator that were used at Point Reyes.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center offers exhibits on the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, as well as on whales, seals and sea lions, wildflowers, birds and maritime history.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center is located 45 minutes west of Bear Valley on the Point Reyes Headlands, at the end of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. There is a 650 meter (0.4 mile) walk (mostly uphill) from the parking lot to the Lighthouse Visitor Center.
Allow at least 2 hours round trip for travel to and from the Lighthouse from the Bear Valley area and another hour to tour the Visitor Center and Lighthouse.
About this Establishment
Point Reyes: A Treacherous Obstacle to Mariners
Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Weeks of fog, especially during the summer months, frequently reduce visibility to hundreds of feet. The Point Reyes Headlands, which jut 10 miles out to sea, pose a threat to each ship entering or leaving San Francisco Bay. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse warned mariners of danger for more than a hundred years.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870, was retired from service in 1975 when the U.S. Coast Guard installed an automated light. They then transferred ownership of the lighthouse to the National Park Service, which has taken on the job of preserving this fine specimen of our heritage.
All lighthouses in the United States are now automated because it is cheaper to let electronics do the work. Many decommissioned lighthouses were transformed into restaurants, inns or museums. The lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore is now a museum piece, where the era of the lightkeepers’ lives, the craftsmanship and the beauty of the lighthouse are actively preserved.
Time Period Represented: 1870 – 1975
Hours Open: Thursday through Monday, hours: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Visitor Fees: None
Seasons Open: Open year round
ADA Accessibility Notes
Visitor Center is accessible and parking is a short distance from Visitor Center.
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets allowed only in parking lot, on leash.
For More Information, Contact:
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road, Olema, CA 94950
415-464-5100 · fax 415-663-8132