Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 9, 2011

Pt. Reyes: A Top Wildlife and Wildflower Destination

Beaches, Birds, Wildflowers, Whales, Elephant Seals, and Tule Elk

There are many reasons to go to Point Reyes.  Ocean views, beaches, hiking, wildflowers, birding, elephant seals and whales are among the most popular.  In 2010 Pt. Reyes beaches were listed as having the cleanest beaches in the state.  There are close to 150 miles of hiking trails.  Official Park  site: http://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm

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Plant Communities include Bishop Pine, Coastal Dunes, Coastal Grassland, Coastal Scrub, Douglas-fir/mixed Evergreen  and Salt Marsh creating a large diversity of habitats for flora and fauna.  There are over 900 vascular plants, which includes about 15% of the California flora.  There are 61 plant species that are endemic to Pt. Reyes.  There are over 50 plants listed as threatened, rare,  and endangered.

It is now wildflower season.  Two of my favorite areas are Abbott’s Lagoon and Chimney Rock.  Check  these earlier posts (and many others using the search box in the left column)  on these areas for more information: http://sandysteinman.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/abbotts-lagoon-at-chimney-rock/http://sandysteinman.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/a-windy-day-at-point-reyes/ and http://sandysteinman.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/chimney-rock-flower-whale-update/

Good sources of  Wildflower information are the park site: http://www.nps.gov/pore/naturescience/wildflowers.htm and Marin County Native Plants Society:  http://www.marin.edu/cnps/

Be aware there is plenty of poison oak at Pt. Reyes.  It is illegal to pick flowers or collect plants or any other natural objects in the national seashore.

Pt. Reyes one of the top birding areas in the U.S.  As a result of the large diversity of habitats and coastal location there nearly 490 species of birds have been recorded.  For information on birding locations: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife_viewing_birds.htm
Point Reyes Bird List: http://www.nps.gov/pore/naturescience/upload/animalspecieslist_bird.pdf

The Point Reyes Birding festival is April 29 to May, 2 2011.  If you are interested in going contact check the website right away as many events fill quickly:  http://www.pointreyesbirdingfestival.org/site/
Point Reyes is also the home of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory http://www.prbo.org/cms/index.php

There are almost 40 mammal species at Pt. Reyes. Three species of special interest :

Whale Watching usually peaks mid-January to mid March: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife viewing whales.htm
Tule elk
: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife_viewing_tuleelk.htm and
Elephant seals: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife_viewing_elephantseals.htm

Shuttle Alert Whale Watchers, Lighthouse visitors and Chimney Rock hikers on Saturday and Sunday you cannot drive to Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse areas during peak wildflower and whale seasons.  Between 9 AM and 5:15 PM you must park at Drakes Beach and take the shuttle out. The lighthouse shuttle bus system usually begins on the last Saturday of December and continues through mid-April

Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) offers the Pt.Reyes Field Seminars. Seminar topics include the botany, birds, photography, and arts.  They also offer programs for families and educators. http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife_viewing_whales.htm

Useful books and checklists (all are usually available at the Visitor’s Center):

  • Flowers of Point Reyes National Seashore by Roxanna Ferris (General Flower book of Pt. Reyes)
  • Natural History of Pt. Reyes Peninsula by Jules Evens (covers all areas of Natural History)
  • Marin Flora by John Thomas Howell, Frank Almeda,Wilma Follette, and Catherine Best (Complete Flora of entire Marin County)
  • Pt. Reyes National Seashore: A Hiking and Nature Guide by Don and Kay Martin (hiking guide that includes good basic nature information)
  • Plant Checklist for Pt. Reyes National Seashore
  • Butterfly Checklist for Pt. Reyes National Seashore and North District Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Checklist of Birds for Pt. Reyes National Seashore

Two more stops you might want to consider are:

  • Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station for great homemade baked goods and coffee before or after you venture out.
  • Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales, which is 17 miles north of Pt. Reyes Station on HIghway One or about 20 minutes.  Like the name says it is a mostly but not exclusively native plants nursery. www.mostlynatives.com/

For information on lodgings check the West Marin Chamber Of Commerce Site: http://www.pointreyes.org/west_marin_point_reyes_lodging.html

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