When your friend calls you up and says let’s check out the Point Reyes Lighthouse at sunset and watch some whales, you cancel all your plans and say yes!
Saturday afternoon, I hopped in the car and drove out to Point Reyes National Seashore. We were super lucky and had almost no fog obscuring our view. The curtains in the lighthouse were rolled back, showing off the golden beams on the rocks around us. We got the chance to pop into the lighthouse lens. The glass was handmade in France in 1867 before it made its voyage to Point Reyes.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse sprung to action December of 1870 warning ships entering or leaving San Francisco of the Point Reyes Headlands which jut ten miles out to sea. It was a functional lighthouse up until 1975. The US Coast Guard installed an automated light on the cliffs below, rendering the lighthouse obsolete. The lighthouse was then transferred to the care of the National Park Service. The Park Service maintains and preserves this historical spot today. Visitors can access the lens room and lighthouse keeper’s quarters to get a sense of what life may have been like.
If you’re looking for a quick getaway from San Francisco, the lighthouse is an easy destination. From the parking lot, visitors hike on a paved road for about a half mile. From there, you descend down a flight of 308 steps, complete with several benches if you get tired. In the summer, an evening program called Illuminating the Point Reyes Light is available for visitors to experience the lighthouse just before sunset.
Point Reyes is the windiest spot on the Pacific Coast. The Point Reyes Lighthouse and steps will not always be open. When winds reach up 40mph, the steps are closed for visitors’ safety. Helicopters can’t reach you in crazy wind if you get blown off the walkway. Check wind forecasts before you go and when in doubt, call the Visitor Center to check on conditions.
What’s there to do other than the Point Reyes Lighthouse? Hike to Arch Rock. See a freshwater waterfall flow right into the ocean.
All photos by Alex Manelis.