Below is a listing of Ranger Guided Programs offered at Point Reyes National Seashore. Program schedules are subject to change. Check back immediately prior to your visit for the most up-to-date information and times. Programs are not offered on December 25.
Teachers and Educators: For Ranger-Led Educational Offerings, please visit our For Teachers pages.
Groups of 15 or more: Please contact the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 415-464-5100 x2 x5 in advance of attending one of the following programs so that staff can make the necessary preparations for the extra participants.
Weekend Ranger's Choice Programs
1:30 pm, most weekend days.
Come join a Park Ranger to learn more about Point Reyes National Seashore's natural and cultural history. Topics may cover earthquakes and plate tectonics, the Coast Miwok, Sir Francis Drake, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, or area flora and fauna. Some presentations may use the park's Science On a Sphere® to help explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Check the program schedule on our Schedule of Events: Weekends Ranger Programs page, or stop by or call the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 415-464-5100 x2 x5 for information about today's program. Some programs may require up to a 1.6 kilometer (one mile) walk on easy to moderate trails. Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
Lasts 1 to 1.5 hours.
Starting in the summer of 2018, Point Reyes National Seashore will undertake a large restoration project on the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse. This website's 2018 Lighthouse Restoration blog will keep you up-to-date; so bookmark this blog and check back in the near future. There will be times when the lighthouse area will be closed to all foot traffic and we apologize for that in advance. The necessary improvements will make your future experience even better.
A Look into the Lens
2:30 pm through 4 pm, Friday through Monday, mid-April through December. Restoration work beginning in July 2018 may result in the cancellation of this program. Visit our 2018 Lighthouse Restoration blog for more details. Operational Changes which began on May 1, 2013: A Look into the Lens is no longer offered on Thursdays.
See inside the Point Reyes Lighthouse and discover its history and function with a Park Ranger. Access requires a strenuous descent and ascent of 308 stairs. Stairs close when weather and winds are hazardous, i.e., if the winds are in excess of 40 mph (64 kmph).
The Visitor Center and steps leading down to the Lighthouse are usually closed early at 2 pm on Thanksgiving and December 24 and are closed all day on December 25. No programs are offered on these days.
Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse
Lighthouse History at Point Reyes
Illuminating the Point Reyes Light
Low staffing levels prevent us from offering this program during the summer of 2018. The 2019 schedule for the Illuminating the Point Reyes Light program has yet to be determined. During 2015, the program was offered on the first and third Saturday of the month, July through September 5, 2015. No programs were offered during the summer of 2016 or 2017. Start times vary depending on sunset. The program used to begin about a half-hour before sunset, but, due to safety concerns, now begins about 1.5 hours before sunset in order for the program to conclude early enough for participants to return to their vehicles before dark. Operational Changes Beginning May 1, 2013: The Illuminating the Point Reyes Light program is now only offered during summer months, instead of from April through December.
Experience the Point Reyes Lighthouse just before sunset. Learn about the lives of the keepers and the operation of the light. Space is limited on this popular program. Group size is limited to 8.
Call 415-669-1534 after 10 am the day of the tour for times and reservations. The program will be cancelled if winds exceed 40 mph. Call back between 4 pm and 4:30 pm to confirm status of program.
- Wear very warm clothes as the weather is often cold and windy.
- Bring a flashlight for the 0.6 km (0.4 mile) walk back to your car if you decide to wait until after sunset to return.
- Meet at the Lighthouse Visitor Center. Allow at least 1 hour to travel from the Bear Valley Visitor Center to the Lighthouse Visitor Center.
- Access to the Lighthouse requires a strenuous descent and ascent of 308 steps.
Lasts 1 hour.
Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse
Lighthouse History at Point Reyes
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Habitat Restoration Workday
HRP meets in front of the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 9 am on various Sundays and Thursdays throughout the year. Call in advance to confirm the workday (occasionally the team travels to another park) and to discuss carpooling needs. Bring lunch, water, and sturdy shoes. Gloves and tools are provided. Contact Ellen Hamingson at 415-464-5196 or by email for more information. Groups may schedule additional weekend or weekday dates by contacting Ellen Hamingson at 415-464-5196 or by email.
For more information and for specific dates, check out our Volunteer: Habitat Restoration - Short Term page.
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Kule Loklo Open House & Workday
10 am, second Saturday of most months
Visit a replica Coast Miwok village that offers a glimpse of life in pre-European California. Park staff or volunteers will be present from 10am to about 11:30am to talk about Coast Miwok history and culture, walk around the village with the public, and may be able to share or demonstrate activities representative of Coast Miwok life. Visitors to the open house are not required to participate in volunteer workday activities. All are welcome. Open houses and workdays are typically held on the second Saturday of the month; please contact Carlo Arreglo by phone at 415-464-5146 or by email to confirm when the next date is scheduled. Volunteers are not required to sign up for more than one day. Large groups may also schedule other workdays by contacting Carlo.
- Meet at Kule Loklo at 10 am.
- Rain cancels open house and workday.
If your primary interest is in volunteering, call 415-464-5146 or visit our Volunteer: Kule Loklo Workday page.
Daily Ranger Program
The park offered Ranger's Choice programs at 1:30 pm on weekdays from Tuesday, December 26, 2017, through Friday, December 29, 2017. No decision has yet to be made regarding whether programs will be offered in late December of 2018.
The park also offered Ranger's Choice programs at 1:30 pm on weekdays from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Friday, April 6, 2018. No decision has yet to be made regarding whether programs will be offered during Spring Break in 2019.
Come join a Park Ranger to learn more about Point Reyes National Seashore's natural and cultural history. Topics may cover earthquakes and plate tectonics, the Coast Miwok, Sir Francis Drake, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, or area flora and fauna. Some presentations may use the park's Science On a Sphere® to help explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Some programs may require up to a 1.6 kilometer (one mile) walk on easy to moderate trails. Most programs start at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
Lasts 1 to 1.5 hours.
Whale and Elephant Seal Season Programs
Note: Due to the high volume of traffic out to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas during the gray whale migration, visitors wishing to attend the following programs may be required to ride a shuttle bus from Drakes Beach. On weekends and holidays from late December to late March or mid-April each year, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from the South Beach junction to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas is closed during shuttle operating hours (9 am to 5:30 pm), weather permitting. On the day you plan to attend one of the following programs, call 415-464-5100 x2 x3 x1 to find out whether shuttles are operating. More info on the shuttle bus system may be found on our Winter Shuttle Bus System page.
Journey of the Whales
1:30 pm, weekends and holidays, late December through April.
Join a Ranger to learn about gray whales as they migrate past Point Reyes. Learn about their habits and adaptations, and hope for a whale sighting from the Observation Deck. Program lasts ~30 minutes.
This program is given out-of-doors. Come prepared for windy, cold, and damp weather.
Meet at the Lighthouse Visitor Center. If the shuttles are operating, be sure to arrive at Drakes Beach at least an hour before the program start time to ride the shuttle in order to arrive at the program on time.
Historic Lifeboat Station Open House
Weekends and holidays, late-December through mid-March. Open House 11 am to 4:30 pm.
Visit a site where heroes of our coast were housed. See the historic lifeboat, view exhibits, and experience 80 years of lifesaving history at Point Reyes. Kids activities, a 10-minute video on elephant seals, and complimentary hot beverages (cocoa, tea, coffee) will be available. Hands-on interactive activities allow both children and adults to learn about seal and whale adaptations.
Special slide programs may also be available at the Historic Lifeboat Station, depending on staffing availability. Check at one of the Visitor Centers for whether the slide program is being offered. The slide programs last about 30 minutes.
Experience Elephant Seals
Weekends and holidays, late-December through March. Volunteer docents will be stationed at the Elephant Seal Overlook from 11 am to 4 pm. View an elephant seal colony through binoculars and scopes. Ask docents about the amazing adaptations and life cycles of northern elephant seals.
A special slide program about elephant seals may be available at the Lifeboat Station at Chimney Rock, depending on staffing availability. Check at one of the Visitor Centers for whether the slide program is being offered. The slide program lasts about 30 minutes.
Experience Gray Whales
Weekends and holidays, late December through late April, weather permitting. Volunteer docents will be stationed at the Lighthouse Observation Deck from 11 am to 4:30 pm to answer questions about gray whales. Visitors will be able to view gray whales through park-provided binoculars and scopes.