All Visitor Centers are usually open throughout the year, but are closed December 25. However, the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center will be closed through late December 2014 and from late-March or early April through at least late May 2015. Visitor Centers may close at 2 pm on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Call 415-464-5100 for hours of operation on these holidays.
Bear Valley Visitor Center
Operational Changes which began on May 1, 2013:
Summer and early autumn hours from Saturday, May 24, 2014, through Sunday, November 2, 2014:
From June 6, 2014, through August 30, 2014, the Bear Valley Visitor Center was open 6 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Extended hours for Fridays and Saturdays of summer 2015 have yet to be determined.
The park's primary Visitor Center provides an orientation of the park's roads, trails, and human and natural history. The Bear Valley Visitor Center was designed to blend in with the historically significant ranching culture of this area and is located in the heart of the Olema Valley. The interior exhibit space provides a glimpse of the diverse ecosystems and cultural heritage of the park and includes a seismograph, touch table, auditorium, and book sales area. Audio-visual programs, shown in the auditorium, are available upon request. Natural history books, cards and posters are for sale in the bookstore. Permits for backcountry camping, as well as beach fire permits, may be obtained here. Allow at least 45 minutes to view exhibits and to watch an audio-visual program.
The Bear Valley Visitor Center is located 0.8 kilometer (0.5 mile) west of Olema, CA along Bear Valley Road.
Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center
Winter hours from Friday, December 26, 2014, through late March or early April 2015:
Operational Changes which began May 1, 2013:
Located at beautiful Drakes Beach, the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center contains exhibits that focus on 16th century maritime exploration, marine fossils and marine environments. A minke whale skeleton is suspended from the ceiling. Natural history books, cards and posters are for sale in the bookstore. Allow 20–30 minutes to view exhibits.
The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is 30 minutes from Bear Valley on Drakes Beach off of Sir Frances Drake Blvd.
Special Event: Annual Sand Sculpture Contest, Labor Day Sunday.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center and the Point Reyes Historic Lighthouse
Operational Changes which began on May 1, 2013:
NOTE: The Lighthouse Visitor Center and the stairs leading down to the Lighthouse is scheduled to be open (weather permitting) from 10 am to 2 pm on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 27, 2014.
The Lens Room (the main chamber of the Lighthouse, which contains the Fresnel lens and clockwork mechanism) is only open (as weather & staffing permit): Fridays through Mondays from 2:30 pm to 4 pm.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center, the stairs leading down to the Lighthouse, and the Lens Room reopened on Thursdays from May 29, 2014, through August 28, 2014. No decision has yet to be made concerning whether these facilities will be reopened on Thursdays for the summer of 2015.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center is located 45 minutes west of Bear Valley on the Point Reyes Headlands, at the end of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. On weekends and holidays from late December through mid-April when visitation by whale watchers to the Point Reyes Lighthouse area is heavy, visitors may be required to ride a shuttle bus from Drakes Beach to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas. There is a 650 meter (0.4 mile) walk (mostly uphill) from the parking lot/shuttle stop to the Lighthouse Visitor Center.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse itself is another 150 meters (0.1 miles) beyond the Visitor Center at the base of some 300 steps—the equivalent of 25 stories. The lens room, which houses the original clockworks and first-order Fresnel lens that were manufactured in 1867 and installed in 1870, is open from 2:30 pm to 4 pm, Fridays through Mondays, as staffing and weather conditions permit. The lower chamber of the historic lighthouse has exhibit panels on the history of the light and the keepers. The equipment building next to the lighthouse exhibits the two 1947 super typhon foghorns, the air compressors, and a backup power generator that were used at Point Reyes.
Special Event: Evening programs illuminating the historic light have in the past occurred on the first and third Saturday of the month, April through December. Please Note: For 2014, the evening programs were only offered on the first and third Saturday of the month from June through August, except for on July 19. The dates on which this program will be offered in 2015 have yet to be determined. There is no fee, but reservations are required. Please call 415-669-1534 between 10 am and 4:30 pm on the day of the program to reserve a spot.