History & Culture

A white light tower with a red roof next to a few other white buildings on the edge of an ocean cliff.
The Historic Point Reyes Lighthouse.

The cultural history of Point Reyes reaches back some 5,000 years to the Coast Miwok Indians who were the first human inhabitants of the Peninsula. Over 120 known village sites exist within the park. According to many experts, Sir Francis Drake landed here in 1579, the first European explorer to do so. In response to the many shipwrecks in the treacherous coastal waters, key lighthouse and lifesaving stations were established by the United States Government in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the early 1800s, Mexican land grantees established ranchos. They were followed by a wave of American agricultural operations, which continue to this day in the Seashore's pastoral zone. By 1914, Guglielmo Marconi sited and commissioned the building of a wireless telegraphy stations in the Point Reyes area, which played an important role in maritime communications for ships on the Pacific Ocean through the late 1900s.

Learn more about the People, Places, Historic Landscapes, Historic Structures, and Archaeology at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The Point Reyes National Seashore museum collection currently holds over forty oral history interviews compiled by the park historian between 1985–1994.

The Point Reyes National Seashore Museum holdings include natural history specimens, archeological collections, historic objects, and archives.

Museum and Archives Reference Services are unavailable until October 1, 2017. We regret that no staff is available to assist with access to archival collections, objects or specimens at the present time. Please check back with us in October. Thank you.

Last updated: March 16, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Phone:

(415) 464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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