Bear Valley Visitors Center sits at the entrance to many of the numerous trails, beaches, preserves, and lands of Point Reyes National Seashore, which is part of the National Parks Service and is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful parks in NPS. This barn shaped structure is the perfect starting point for a day’s exploration and enjoyment of one or more of the many special places or activities at Point Reyes. There’s a scale model of the park, stuffed harbor seals and other wildlife, gray whale skull bones, excellent maps, souvenirs and very friendly rangers to answer all your questions.
My favorite reason for coming here is to start off on a bike ride or hike through Bear Valley and either go the whole length of the trail out to the coast or branch off onto a trail that goes up the hills. Sticking to the Bear Valley trail is the least strenuous (i.e., flattest) trail, but each is exceptionally beautiful. It’s fun to take a picnic lunch and eat out on the cliffs over the water at the end of the Bear Valley Trail.
Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 there are ranger-guided afternoon programs. Saturday is the On Shaky Ground hour long guided walk along the Earthquake Trail, where the San Andreas Fault lies and where Bessie the Cow is said to have fallen to her death during the ’06 quake as the ground opened, shifted and then slammed shut. Sunday’s tour takes you through a replica village of the Coast Miwok indigenous people. Both walks are less than a mile.
During the summer there is Science on a Sphere daily starting at 1:30 until August 30, 2013. Don’t miss the 33rd Annual Big Time Festival today starting at 4:00. Make sure to check out A Look into the Lens every Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday at the Point Reyes Lighthouse from 2:30 to 4:00. Every weekday until September 2, there are Daily Ranger Programs 10:30 to 11:30.
Where: Bear Valley Visitors Center, Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Rd. Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 (map)
by Anne Kennedy