The National Park Service protection afforded Point Reyes National Seashore ensures wild scenic coastal beauty
. It encompasses 70,000 acres, including coastal beaches and headlands, estuaries, and uplands. What we didn’t expect were the historic farms (dating back to 19th century) grand-fathered into the peninsula area that are still active, with most appearing to be dairy farms. So, as we drove roads to get to various parts of the Point Reyes Peninsula, cows were the most common "wildlife" we encountered! Fortunately, the northern part of the peninsula has a reserve for Tule elk and we crossed paths with a coyote, so we got our real wildlife fix.
But we were primarily there for the coastal sights -- we hiked along Tomales Point Trail, observed a huge colony of sea lions, visited the Point Reyes Lighthouse and strolled along one of the beaches at the end of a hike. The coastline is spectacular, with high cliffs, gigantic rocks and crashing waves. It is similar to the Oregon Coast, but unique in its topography which was formed by virtue of being on a different tectonic plate due to a rift zone of the San Andreas Fault, half of which lies under Tomales Bay. I have to admit that all the displays about the San Andreas Fault and the fault line bordering the park made me a tad nervous. But fortunately, the “big one” held off while we were there!
Next stop – civilization in San Francisco!!
For the next leg of our adventure, we explored the Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco in Marin County. We stayed at the closest state park, Samuel P. Taylor, which is in a redwood forest. This was our first California state park experience and the affects of the state's budget crisis were evident here. They had closed the RV campground (without posting a notice on their website) and the only campsites available to us were in parallel parking spaces on a road, with the campsite below by a creek. They also had recently raised their rates to $35/night. Cheaper than private campgrounds (which in CA can run as high as $70/night) but nonetheless costly for what we were getting (non-electric site, no showers and parking on a road). But we were close to Point Reyes which was well worth any inconveniences and cost.