All Visitor Centers are usually open throughout the year, but are closed December 25. Visitor Centers may close at 2 pm on Thanksgiving. Call 415-464-5100 for hours of operation on these holidays.
Bear Valley Visitor Center
Operational Changes which began on May 1, 2013:
Winter hours from November 1 through February 28:
Spring, summer, and early fall hours from March 1 through October 31:
From July 3, 2015, through September 5, 2015, the Bear Valley Visitor Center was open until 6 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Extended hours for Fridays and Saturdays were not offered during the summer of 2016. Extended hours for Fridays and Saturdays of summer 2017 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 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 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
Operational Changes which began May 1, 2013:
Winter hours from Friday, December 31, 2016, through late March or early April 2017:
After the end of the Winter Shuttle Bus System in late March or early April, the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach will be closed seven days a week. During the summer of 2015, the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center was open on weekends and Mondays from Saturday, June 27, 2015, through Monday, September 7, 2015, and on weekends from Saturday, September 12, 2015, through Sunday, September 27, 2015. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center was closed during the summer of 2016. No decision has yet to be made as to whether the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center will be open during the summer of 2017.
The PRNSA Bookstore at Drakes Beach is open:
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. 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.
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:
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 June 25, 2015, through September 24, 2015. These facilities were not be reopened on Thursdays for the summer of 2016. No decision has yet to be made concerning whether these facilities will be reopened on Thursdays for the summer of 2017.
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.
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.
Attached to the Lighthouse Visitor Center is the Ocean Exploration Center. A collaboration between the National Park Service and NOAA's Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries, the Ocean Exploration Center highlights the spectacularly rich and globally significant ocean environment of North-central California. The coastal and marine ecosystem off North-central California is one of the biologically richest ocean zones on the planet, but the sea life is largely hidden beneath the water's surface. The center increases visitors' opportunities to view and learn about this remarkable area, protected by two national marine sanctuaries and a national seashore. The Ocean Exploration Center features 3-D models of a California sea lion, a Dall's porpoise, a sooty shearwater, and a white shark suspended from the ceiling, murals depicting life below the surface painted on the walls, and informative panels describing ocean wildlife and habitats off our coast. A large picture window offers visitors a stunning view of the Point Reyes Beach and the Pacific Ocean, while protecting them from the legendary winds of Point Reyes.
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. For 2015, the evening programs were offered on the first and third Saturday of the month from July through September. The dates on which this program will be offered in 2016 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.