Point Reyes

First Operational: 1870

Height: 35 feet

Accessibility: Fog signal building and grounds open, visitor centers open, lighthouse currently closed

  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Visitor Information

General

Grounds: 6am to 10pm

Lighthouse Visitor Center: Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am to 4 pm

Bear Valley Visitor Center: 9:30am to 5:00 pm except major holidays

(650) 728-7177

Directions

 27000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd,

Inverness, CA 94937

Point Reyes is located along the west coast of California approximately thirty miles (fifty km) north of San Francisco off of Highway 1. Travelers may approach the park from the winding scenic Highway 1, either northbound or southbound. Visitors can also reach the park via Sir Francis Drake Boulevard or the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road.

History

In 1855 the United States Lighthouse Board authorized construction for a lighthouse on Point Reyes, although construction was delayed for 15 years due to a dispute over land acquisition costs. In the time of the dispute,  14 shipwrecks occurred, further justifying the construction of the lighthouse. Finally, in 1869 the the landowners offered the land for $6,000 and the government accepted the offer.

Originally, the Point Reyes Lighthouse was to be built atop the bluff at Point Reyes like the lighthouses at Point Pinos or Old Point Loma, but after realizing that fog could obscure an elevated light, they revised their plan and placed the light 275 feet lower than before, with the fog signal located 50 feet below. The lighthouse holds the first order Fresnel lens, with 24 panels of glass producing a flash of light every 5 seconds. Electricity came to the lighthouse in 1938, and concrete steps replaced the wooden ones in 1939. By 1975, the station was fully automated.

The frequency of inclement weather made keeping the light a challenging task. Point Reyes is one of the windiest and foggiest of all locations along the Pacific Coast. Week-long blankets of fog are common occurrences; it is a rare occurrence that strong gales from 75 mph to 100 mph don’t hit the station.