The Bear Valley and Lighthouse Visitor Centers are usually open throughout the year, but are closed December 25 and may close at 2 pm on Thanksgiving Day. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is now usually closed for most of the year, except for weekends and federal holidays from late December through late March or early April. Visit our Operating Hours & Seasons page for specific hours.
Bear Valley Visitor Center
The Bear Valley Visitor Center is located 0.8 kilometer (0.5 mile) west of Olema, CA, along Bear Valley Road.
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 (currently inoperable) and a touch table. Audio-visual programs, shown in the auditorium, are available upon request. Natural history books, cards, posters, and other merchandise are for sale in the bookstore. Permits for backcountry camping, as well as beach fire permits, may be obtained here. Allow at least forty-five minutes to view exhibits and to watch an audio-visual program.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center and the Point Reyes Historic Lighthouse
The Lighthouse Visitor Center is located forty-five minutes west of Bear Valley on the Point Reyes Headlands, at the end of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. 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 700 meter (0.45 mile) walk (mostly uphill) from the parking lot/shuttle stop to the Lighthouse Visitor Center.
The Lighthouse Visitor Center offers exhibits on the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, as well as on whales, seals and sea lions, wildflowers, birds and maritime history. A touch table allows visitors to feel baleen and to closely inspect the skulls of various marine mammals. The Fresnel lens from the San Francisco Lightship is also on display. Attached to the Lighthouse Visitor Center is the Ocean Exploration Center, which highlights the spectacularly rich and globally significant ocean environment of North-central California.
Check out our Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse page for more information to help plan your trip.
Restoration Impacts on Visitors
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 and our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will keep you up-to-date, so bookmark these 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.
Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center
The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is thirty minutes from Bear Valley on Drakes Beach off of Sir Frances Drake Boulevard.
Located at beautiful Drakes Beach, the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center contains exhibits that focus on 1500s maritime exploration, marine fossils, and marine environments. A minke whale skeleton is suspended from the ceiling. Allow 20–30 minutes to view exhibits.
Park- and ocean-themed books, guides, and postcards, and maps, along with coffee and packaged snacks are for sale in the PRNSA bookstore adjacent to the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center.
Special Event: Annual Sand Sculpture Contest on the Sunday before Labor Day weekend.
Last updated: December 2, 2018