Lakes, Ponds, and Lagoons

A small blue lake surrounded by brushy green hills with the ocean visible in the distance through a gap in the hills.
Pelican Lake

Open-water habitat, such as ponds, lakes, lagoons, and stock ponds, are characterized by standing water and are typically devoid of vegetation.

Most of the ponds and lakes of Point Reyes were constructed by former landowners for stock watering or development. In 2004, Point Reyes contained more than 75 impoundments. These ponds, such as the one at Five Brooks, are now part of the "natural" landscape and support populations of songbirds, waterbirds, and amphibians, such as California red-legged frog, a species that has been displaced in other regions.

Within the Olema Creek valley, a number of naturally occurring sag ponds associated with the San Andreas Fault provide unique aquatic habitat. Hike the Rift Zone Trail to find some of these sag ponds.

The southwestern part of Point Reyes near Double Point is dotted with ponds and lakes derived from massive slope failure events. These naturally occurring water bodies include Bass, Crystal, Ocean, Pelican, and Wildcat Lakes. Hike from Palomarin to Wildcat Campground/Beach along the Coast Trail to view some of these lakes.

Some lagoons, such as Abbotts Lagoon and Horseshoe Lagoon, have periodic saltwater intrusion with higher high tides; have open, freshwater vegetation characteristics; and provide wildlife habitat like large ponds. River otters, white pelicans, wintering waterbirds—such as ruddy duck, American coot, bufflehead, and mallard—and many gull species may be observed along the short hike to Abbotts Lagoon. Bolinas Lagoon has regular tidal influence and a broader spectrum of saltwater to freshwater habitats. Bolinas Lagoon provides shelter and haul-out sites for harbor seals. It also provides habitat for a host of migrating and wintering birds.

The text above is adapted from the Coastal watershed assessment for Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore.


Pawley, A. and M. Lay. 2013. Coastal watershed assessment for Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore. Natural Resource Report NPS/PWR/NRR—2013/641. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. Available at (accessed 7 January 2023)

Last updated: January 7, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


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 (e.g., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; fire danger information; 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.

Contact Us