2014 Harbor Seal Pupping Season Closures
From March 1 through June 30, the park implements closures of certain Tomales Bay beaches and Drakes Estero to water-based recreation to protect harbor seals during the pupping season. Please avoid disturbing seals to ensure a successful pupping season. More »
2014 Winter Shuttle Bus Operations Have Ended
March 30, 2014, was the last day for the 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus System. Sir Francis Drake Blvd. is open daily from now through late December 2014. More »
Operational Changes Took Effect on May 1, 2013
The Lighthouse Visitor Center is now only open Fridays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is open on weekends and holidays when shuttles are operating. More »
History of Tule Elk
Tule elk are endemic to California, meaning they are found only here. Roosevelt elk (C. canadensis roosevelti), our other native California elk, are found on forested slopes in the Pacific Northwest and in several other western states. Rocky Mountain elk (C. canadensis nelsoni), also found in California, are a non-native transplant and are found in the northeast corner of California.
Tule Elk at Point Reyes
Further conservation efforts resulted in an additional free-ranging herd being established at Point Reyes. In 1998, 28 animals taken from the Tomales Point preserve were released in the wilderness area south of Limantour Beach. Reintroduction of tule elk to the National Seashore and the further establishment of the free-ranging herd has been an important component of the restoration of the natural systems historically found in this unique and treasured place.
Tule Elk Populations at Tomales Point
Point Reyes National Seashore remains the only National Park unit where tule elk can be found. The majestic animals you see as you travel through the park embody the restoration of the dominant native herbivore to the California coastal ecosystem. They shape the landscape around them as they did for centuries before they were extirpated by humans. They symbolize the conservation of native species and ecosystem processes, one of the primary missions of the National Park Service.
The tule elk's presence is treasured by visitors, photographers, naturalists, and locals alike. Their image has been expressed in the local folk art, numerous local and nationally published photographs, and even on the local trade/barter currency where they are depicted alongside cattle, coho salmon, and local produce as being emblematic of the community.
The project to reintroduce free-ranging tule elk to the Limantour area was made possible by generous grants from:
Discover more about the tule elk by reading Tule Elk - Return of a Species (371 KB PDF, Adobe® Acrobat Reader® required to view document), or by visiting our Viewing Tule Elk webpage. Even more information can be found on sfnps.org's Tule Elk web pages.
Volunteer to be a Tule Elk Docent during weekends, July through September, at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Did You Know?
Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are present in the waters of Point Reyes year round. Every spring, approximately 7,000 harbor seals, or 20% of the mainland California breeding population, haul out on the beaches of Point Reyes. Look for them in the esteros and in Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon. More...