• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

Nature & Science

Biologist attaching a tag to the hind flippers of an elephant seal.

Biologist attaching an identification tag to an elephant seal.

As wildland habitat is lost elsewhere in California, the relevance of the Point Reyes Peninsula increases as a protected area with a notable rich biological diversity. Over 45% of North American avian species and nearly 18% of California's plant species are found in the park due to the variety of habitat and uniqueness of the geology. Thirty-eight threatened and endangered species exist within the Seashore.

Even if you can only visit here for a day, you will begin to see what we have at Point Reyes National Seashore and how it works. As you drive through windswept Bishop pines, hike up Mt. Wittenberg under towering Douglas firs or walk along Bear Valley Trail through mixed woodlands to the exposed coastal scrub near the ocean, you will begin to see patterns. You might ask yourself why certain plant communities grow in certain places.

Their placement began with ancient geologic forces that created the bedrock and soils. Particular characteristics in these soils determine which types of plants can survive in different locations. Hills, valleys and exposure provide further discrimination for plants depending on their sunlight needs and tolerance to winds. Nothing is random in what you are observing—plants grow where they can survive forming the foundations of all other life including our own.

During your exploration you may also catch a glimpse of some of the animals that make their home here. Wildlife abounds throughout the Seashore. Along the coast you may find marine mammals such as whales, seals, and sea lions. A closer look reveals an abundance of bird life feeding near the tideline. Back in the forest, you may glimpse a bobcat, coyote, raccoon, or skunk scurrying off. We also have plenty of deer and elk to be seen.

Discover more about the diverse habitats at Point Reyes by reading Defining Habitats (384 KB PDF - Adobe® Acrobat Reader® is needed to view PDF documents).

To learn more about some of the research being conducted at Point Reyes, visit our Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center, the San Francisco National Parks Science and Learning pages—especially the Available Resources page—and the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Program website.

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Did You Know?

Point Reyes Lighthouse

The Point Reyes Lighthouse was completed in 1870, 16 years after Congress initially appropriated funds for its construction. It still stands in its original location, having weathered over 140 years at what is considered to be the windiest, foggiest location on the US west coast. More...