"Point Reyes Beach and Pacific Ocean - February 1, 2016 11:30 am" by NPS Photo , public domain
Guide 2012 - 50th Anniversary
50th Anniversary - Visitor Guide to Point Reyes National Seashore (NS) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Point Reyes National Seashore National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior NPS Photo Commemorating 50 Years, 1962-2012 Point Reyes at Families have enjoyed the beauty and bounty of the beaches at Point Reyes for millennia. Coast Miwok people fished and gathered clams at low tide. Pictured here is a National Park Ranger contacting a family on McClures Beach in the 1960s, soon after the park was authorized. Inset: Biologist Mike Reichmuth working with students on the Giacomini Wetlands restoration project. A Bright Star in the Conservation Galaxy N ational Parks have become so much a part of American culture and heritage that it’s hard to imagine our country without them. These places are a way of preserving, unimpaired, some of the nation’s natural wonders and inspirational human stories for “the enjoyment of future generations.” As early as 1929, Californians were increasingly concerned about the fate of their coastline. Development had swallowed most of the eastern seaboard, and was accelerating along the Pacific and Gulf Coasts. Congressional reports recommended the creation of a system of national seashores to protect these vanishing landscapes, and to provide public access to beaches. In 1935, Conrad Wirth, then Assistant Director of the National Park Service, recommended that 53,000 acres of Point Reyes be purchased “because of the peninsula’s exceptional qualities and ... accessibility to the concentrated population of Central California.” The purchase price of $2.4 million, or about $45 per acre, seems a great bargain in retrospect, but, with the country still in the grip of the Great Depression, Congress thought otherwise. A new wave of land speculators aroused private conservation groups, who began to purchase Point Reyes themselves. The first 52 acres to be protected, in 1938, were the wetlands adjacent to Drakes Beach at a cost of $3,000. This property was deeded to Marin County. A dream was born, but it would take the extraordinary work of many individuals working together to fully realize that vision of a national seashore at Point Reyes. continued> Inside This Issue Fire Permit Page 1-3 —. Commemorating 50 Years You may obtain a free permit for a beach fire at Point Reyes National Seashore from any park visitor center. You must follow regulations as described on the permit. On high fire days, all permits are null and void. Call 415-464-5100 for current fire conditions. Page 4 — Page 5 — Plan Your Visit Recreation Page 6-7 —. From the Ground Up Page 8 — Just For Kids Visit us on the web at www.nps.gov/pore Welcome! For nearly a century and a half, National Parks have been sanctuaries for people seeking peace from the turmoil of daily life. This year, Point Reyes National Seashore is commemorating its 50th year as a proud member of this community. John F. Kennedy signed the legislation setting aside the only west coast seashore park on September 13, 1962. Sadly, he didn’t live to visit the park, but on October 20, 1966, Lady Bird Johnson, a champion of national parks and outdoor spaces, came to Point Reyes for its dedication. In her speech, the First Lady called Point Reyes, “a bright star in the galaxy of conservation achievements,” and spoke of the urgent need urban Americans have for open spaces near their communities. Point Reyes offers many opportunities to explore that natural world. From a peaceful walk through a fog-shrouded forest to a sun-drenched rocky perch above the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, here you can find many alluring retreats. In doing so, you may witness the drama of the changing seasons, as foggy summers give way to clear autumn days, and sun-browned autumn hillsides give way to winter’s replenishing rains. In spring, the magic is found in tiny yellow sun-cups blooming in sandy soils, and razor-taloned peregrine falcons stooping to combat nestmarauding ravens. The elk bugling on Tomales Point is characteristic of fall on the peninsula, while the return of the northern elephant seal and the migration of the Pacific gray whale herald winter and the year’s end. Enjoy your visit and help us to preserve this “bright star” so future generations may also find wonder and solace here. Through active stewardship, this place will remain a refuge for all. Park Superintendent, Cicely Muldoon Emergencies Report emergencies to visitor center staff or call 911. Cellular service is not available in most park locations. Pay phones are located at all three visitor centers, Limantour Beach, and Pierce Point Ranch. Lost and Found Items may be turned in or reported missing at any park visitor center. Become a Junior Ranger! Ask at the Bear Valley Visitor Center or the Lighthouse Visitor Center for your Junior Ranger activity packet. For more fun, visit these websites: www.nps.gov/pore/forkids/index.htm www.nps.gov/webrangers A Bright Star in the Conservation Galaxy continued Citizens Take Action In the early 1940s, though recreation and beauty were of little concern to a country at war, local conservationists rallied once again. Mrs. Margaret McClure donated 2.9 acres of her Pierce Point Ranch to Marin County, providing access to the rugged, windswept shore now known as McClures Beach. Caroline Livermore, in concert with the Marin Conservation League, raised $15,000 to help Marin County buy 185 acres of Tomales Bay shoreline. Out of this nucleus grew Tomales Bay State Park, a refuge for those Ice Age survivors, the Bishop pines. Following World War II, the country experienced an economic boom period that led to great industrial and urban growth. The federal government invested heavily in highway construction and oil prices were low. More Americans had leisure time, owned cars, and spent time traveling to the coast than ever before. Coastal communities were erecting hotels and motels, restaurants and amusement parks to accommodate and entertain these tourists. This development boom extended to the Point Reyes Peninsula, already a favored vacation spot where well-to-do San Franciscans had built summer homes. Loggers began cutting down trees on Inverness Ridge and surveyors were marking off lots above Limantour Spit. A sense of urgency to save the land gained momentum with help from a powerful ally—Clem Miller, the new Congressional representative for Marin County. With the support of U.S. Senator from California Clair Engle, Congressman Miller introduced legislation for a 35,000 acre park. Conservationists, organized as the Seashore Foundation, promoted the park dream in the face of opposition from developers and others fearful of losing their traditional way of life. Creating Seashore Parks In 1953, the first national seashore was established at Cape Hatteras, on the dynamic barrier island system off the North Carolina coast. Local, state, and federal advocates for protection of the Point Reyes peninsula were encouraged by this success. However, Drakes Bay Estates, with proposed development of over 400 housing units, began construction near Limantour Beach in 1956, lending urgency to the conservationists’ endeavor. In the late 1950s, legislation was first proposed to establish a national seashore at Point Reyes. When he took office, President John F. Kennedy announced two conservation agendas: the creation of national seashores, and the adoption of the Wilderness Bill. Having spent summers throughout his life along the Massachusetts coast on Cape Cod, the protection of these beautiful wild shores was close to Kennedy’s heart. Key players in these struggles were President Kennedy’s Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, Sierra Club executive director David Brower, Clair Engle, Clem Miller, and author Harold Gilliam, among many others. In August of 1961, Cape Cod became the second national seashore, lending further momentum for the Point Reyes cause. The 1962 Sierra Club publication of Gilliam’s book, Island in Time, brought much-needed publicity and a poetic voice to the campaign to protect Point Reyes. David Brower distributed a copy to every member of the 87th Congress. In his book, Gilliam noted: “only 240 miles out of the 3700 miles of shoreline from Mount Desert Island to Corpus Christi are dedicated to public purposes. The National Park Service administers a mere 55 shore miles along the 1700 miles of Pacific Ocean coast.” The 10 National Seashores with Their Authorization Dates Cape Cod NS (MA) August 7, 1961 Fire Island NS (NY) Sept 11, 1964 Point Reyes NS (CA) September 13, 1962 Assateague Island NS (MD, VA) Sept 21, 1965 Cape Hatteras NS (NC) August 17, 1937 Cape Lookout NS (NC) March 10, 1966 Cumberland Island NS (GA) Oct 23, 1972 Gulf Islands NS (FL, MS) Jan 8, 1971 Canaveral NS (FL) Jan 3, 1975 Padre Island NS (TX) September 28, 1962 Point Reyes National Seashore Authorized in 1962, Point Reyes National Seashore preserves and protects over 71,000 acres, including 32,000 acres of designated wilderness and 80 miles of wild, undeveloped coastline. With its rich biological diversity, and cultural history, Point Reyes provides critical habitat to wildlife, is a repository for over 3,000 years of cultural history, and serves as a haven for the restoration of the human spirit. Page 2 Contributors John A. Dell’Osso Loretta Farley Kevin Haney Doug Hee Chris Lish Anela Ramos John Reeves Mary Beth Shenton Mailing Address 1 Bear Valley Road Point Reyes, CA 94956 Website www.nps.gov/pore The National Park Service cares for the special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) is the primary nonprofit partner of the National Park Service at Point Reyes. PRNSA mobilizes community support for resource preservation projects within the park and provides environmental education programs that help visitors explore, discover and connect with the natural world. This publication was funded through a grant from the PRNSA. Learn more and consider becoming a member at www.ptreyes.org. Superintendent Cicely Muldoon Fax Number 415-663-8132 Printed on recycled paper with funding from The Marin County Wildlife and Fishery Commission. Chief of Interpretation John A. Dell’Osso Park Headquarters 415-464-5100 Special thanks to Michael Osborne Design for the 50th Anniversary logo. Commemorating 50 Years 1962-2012 Momentum in favor of the park grew, prompting legislation to acquire the full 53,000 acres first proposed in 1935 by Conrad Wirth. Twentyseven years later, the dream of creating a National Park site at Point Reyes seemed to be coming true. Congressional floor debates for the Point Reyes legislation took place in the summer of 1962, during which battles were waged over incorporation of ranches and other private property into the seashore. The intense effort finally ended with the passage of S. 476 and, on September 13, 1962, President Kennedy signed “The Point Reyes Authorization Act” into law. Sadly, President Kennedy did not live to visit the newly created seashore. A Visit from the First Lady On October 20, 1966, Lady Bird Johnson and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall came to Point Reyes to dedicate the park. Standing on Drakes Beach, with the Pacific as her backdrop, she warned that, “The growing needs of an urban America are quickening the tick of the conservation clock. Let us dedicate Point Reyes National Seashore to the vitality of the American people, and to generations yet unborn who will come here with the continent at their backs and gaze afar into immensity.” She called Point Reyes “a bright star in the galaxy of conservation achievements of the 1960s.” Congress, however, dragged its heels in appropriating the authorized funds. The original $14 million ran out before half of the 53,000 acres were acquired, and as land values soared in the years to come, the National Park Service was often just one step ahead of the developers. Again, individuals with a dream of protecting the area rallied together. More than 450,000 people wrote to the White House in support of park funding. Their efforts, organized by Peter Behr of Save Our Seashore, finally got the job done. On April 3, 1970, an additional $43,500,000 was appropriated to reach the goal of 53,000 acres. September 13, 1962. President John Kennedy presents California Representative Clem Miller with the pen he used to sign the National Seashore authorizing legislation. Pictured standing behind the President are U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall (third from left), Senator Clair Engle of California (fifth from left), and Executive Director of the Sierra Club David Brower (at far right). Additional legislation established the Point Reyes Wilderness on October 18, 1976. This designated 23,370 acres of wilderness in the park, and an additional 8,003 of potential wilderness: “without impairment of its natural values, in a manner which provides for such recreational, educational, historic preservation, interpretation, and scientific research opportunities as are consistent with, based upon, and supportive of the maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment within the area.” Legislation like the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972) and the Endangered Species Act (1973) shaped the Seashore’s protection of critical habitats. In the 1970s, a new recognition evolved that the National Seashore must play a role in preserving the cultural heritage of the area. Kule Loklo, a replica of a Coast Miwok village at Bear Valley, was built as an introduction to thousands of years of Coast Miwok history. The Point Reyes Lighthouse was retired in 1975, and quickly became an icon and a visitor destination. The Seashore continues to support the traditions of dairies and ranches, even as thousands of acres of agricultural land has been lost state- and nation-wide. Input from various community and environmental groups continued to influence policy at the National Seashore. The sentiment persisted that Point Reyes should protect the vibrant cultural history of the area, yet remain as wild as possible. It was recognized that merely protecting the area from development was not enough. Efforts had to be made to defend and re-establish the natural processes and critical habitats, which tied together and defined this place. Tule elk, a species rescued from the brink of extinction, were reintroduced within a part of their former range at Point Reyes in the late 1970s. Efforts have been made to limit the effects of erosion on the streams critical to the populations of salmon and steelhead trout. Elephant seals returned to Point Reyes and hauled out onto isolated, local beaches. The first breeding colony formed in the early 1980s. The Seashore entered a new era as it grappled with the best ways to protect and manage the assets in its care. Concerns over the protection of threatened and endangered species, the impacts of invasive species, the preservation of water quality, and the need for a baseline understanding of the resources led to increased scientific investigation and strategic planning. Community groups, volunteers, and partners have always been key to Point Reyes’ success, but a new emphasis was placed on working together to carry out research and monitoring, provide education, and present opportunities to understand and appreciate the park. Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson, came to Point Reyes to dedicate the park in October 1966. Here she is snapped dancing in the surf at Drakes Beach with Interior Secretary Stewart Udall and California Governor Pat Brown. At the end of the 20th Century, there was a growing awareness of new challenges facing parks. Global climate change and ocean health have led people to realize that the issues that threaten Point Reyes today are not just regional or national, but worldwide in scope. As immense and overwhelming as problems may seem to an individual, remember what can be done when people have a dream. This place has always been a symbol of what can be accomplished when people work together—individuals taking an interest, getting involved, and making a change. National Parks are one of the crucial places where citizens—both young and old—can develop a deeper understanding of our human interdependence with the increasingly fragile planet we inhabit. In our “progress” toward ever-more sophisticated technologies, we have harvested, mined, drilled, and developed our way through more natural resources than all of our ancestors combined. Focusing our sights on progress measured only through this same prism can’t be sustained. Wild places provide opportunities for progress measured on a different plane—conservation, simplicity, stewardship, wonder, community, and compassion. Throughout the park’s 50 years, millions of visitors have hiked the trails, surfed the waves, camped in its wilderness campgrounds, watched migratory whales and breeding elephant seals, and enjoyed the restful sound of waves lapping the shore. Only through our vigilance will the wild character of the forests and beaches—preserved through the efforts of our tireless predecessors—be enjoyed by generations to come. Commemorating 50 Years 1962-2012 Page 3 Plan Your Visit Bear Valley Visitor Center Hours: Stop at the Seashore’s primary visitor center for general information and to view the Seashore’s orientation film. Indoor exhibits introduce the plants, animals, and people of the area. Free park maps and beach fire permits are available at the main desk. Permits for backcountry and boat-in camping are issued at the camping desk. Camping reservations are available up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov Monday—Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Weekends and holidays, 8 am to 5 pm Outdoor Exhibits: Earthquake Trail, Kule Loklo, Morgan Horse Ranch and Woodpecker Trail Phone Number: 415-464-5137 visit our website: www.nps.gov/pore Science On A Sphere Drive Time From Bear Valley Science On a Sphere (SOS)® is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Lighthouse/Chimney Rock Parking 45 minutes Drakes Beach 30 minutes Limantour Beach 20 minutes Point Reyes Hostel 15 minutes Tomales Point 30 minutes San Francisco (via Sir Francis Drake Blvd) 1 hour San Franciso (via Highway 1) 1.5 hours Bodega Bay Petaluma Novato Sonoma/Napa 1 hour 30 minutes 30 minutes 1 hour Please drive carefully. Follow posted speed limits and watch for cyclists. Gasoline is only available locally in Point Reyes Station on Highway 1. Check at Bear Valley Visitor Center for program times. Bear Valley Outdoor Exhibits Earthquake Trail Starting from the Bear Valley Visitor Center picnic area, this short loop trail highlights the San Andreas Fault. View exhibits about geololgy and the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Wheelchair-accessible. Kule Loklo This Coast Miwok cultural exhibit provides a glimpse of life here before European contact. The replica village is an easy half-mile walk from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Learn about Coast Miwok culture as you walk along the trail. Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Morgan Horse Ranch This working ranch at Bear Valley is for Morgan horses used for hiking trail patrol at Point Reyes National Seashore. The Morgan is the first American horse breed. Self-guided exhibits, corrals and demonstrations are a part of the ranch. Open daily, 9 am to 4:30 pm. Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center Drive 30 minutes from Bear Valley to the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center and beautiful Drakes Beach. Enjoy exhibits on 16th and 17th century maritime exploration, marine fossils, and marine environments. You can find refreshments next door at the Drakes Beach Café. The Annual Sand Sculpture contest is held on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Inquire at any visitor center or check the park’s website. Lighthouse Visitor Center Drive 45 minutes from Bear Valley to the lighthouse parking area. Walk 0.4 miles up a moderately steep hill to the Lighthouse Visitor Center. Some handicap accessible parking is available within 700 feet of the visitor center. Inquire at any visitor center for access to this parking area. An observation deck overlooks the lighthouse. When the stairs are open, you may walk down the steep 308 steps to the lighthouse. Fog and wind are common throughout the year. Dress in layers. For current weather information, contact any visitor center or view the lighthouse webcam: Woodpecker Trail Take a lovely shaded stroll through mixed laurel, oak, and fir forest. This trail offers glimpses of acorn woodpeckers hard at work creating granaries in trailside trees. Selfguided exhibits offer insights into deeper understanding of this forest dynamic. Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Hours: Weekends and federal holidays, 10 am to 5 pm Phone Number: 415-669-1250 Drakes Beach Café Serving local, organic, sustainably produced foods. Open weekends; weekday hours vary seasonally. For more information, call 415-669-1297. Hours: Visitor Center : Thursday–Monday, 10 am to 4:30 pm *Stairs: Thursday–Monday, 10 am to 4:30 pm *Lens Room: Thursday–Monday, 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm *High winds or maintenance work may close the stairs. Inquire at any visitor center. Pets are not permitted beyond the bounds of the paved lighthouse visitors’ parking lot. Phone Number: 415-669-1534 www2.nature.nps.gov/air/WebCams/parks/porecam/porecam QR Codes Page 4 Park Map Park Hiking Map South Commemorating 50 Years 1962-2012 Park Hiking Map North GPS Coordinates for Point Reyes Lighthouse Explore Point Reyes Bear Valley Area Map rga Mo Tidepooling — A Rare Treat l rai nT To Horse Trail Morgan Horse Ranch W oo dpe Kule Loklo c il r Tra ke Bear Valley Visitor Center Trailer Parking Maintenance Buildings Picnic Area il Tra Administration Buildings Red Barn Classroom & Parking Ear th q Rift il Tra ke ua To Five Brooks To Inverness, Beaches, and Lighthouse Resources Building Zo ne Trai l Bear Valley Trail to Mt. Wittenb erg Trail, Divide Me adow, and Arch Rock k lo e Lo Kul To Olema B ea r y Road Valle Parking Areas Interpretive Trail Visitor Center Hiking Trail Ranger Station Picnic Area Restrooms Public Pay Phone Trails Roads Horses Permitted N Horses Not Permitted T here are many ways to experience the outdoors at Point Reyes. Whether in the water or on the land, from a bike or a horse, in a kayak or canoe, or on your own two feet, please be prepared. With the variable weather found here, it’s advisable to dress in layers. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Ask for information at a visitor center, consult a hiking guide, or do some internet research, before embarking on your adventure. Call the weather information line at 415-464-5100 for current weather conditions. Hiking Point Reyes is graced with over 150 miles of hiking trails. Some trails ascend steeply into the forested zones along the Inverness Ridge, but there are also less ambitious options amongst the coastal scrub and prairie communities, and in the valleys. An in-depth trail guide and hiking map are available at any visitor center or online. Camping In the seashore, we have 4 backpacking camps; car camping is not available. You can make reservations up to six months in advance by going to www.recreation.gov, or calling 877-644-6777. Minimum walking distances to campgrounds: Sky Camp 1.4 miles from Limantour Road Coast Camp 1.8 miles from Laguna Trail Parking Glen Camp 4.8 miles from Bear Valley Parking Wildcat Camp 5.5 miles from Palomarin Parking Paddling Kayaking and canoeing are popular pursuits at Point Reyes. Tomales Bay, a narrow, 12-mile-long shallow estuarine bay provides wonderful opportunities for novice and experienced paddlers. From July 1 through February 28, paddling is permitted in Drakes Estero. Cycling Bicycles are permitted on all paved park roads and on a limited number of trails at Point Reyes. On the official park map, these trails are indicated with dashed red lines. Watch for horses and hikers; maximum speed limit is 15 mph. Horseback Riding Equestrians may use all trails at Point Reyes, except those marked in red above. On weekends and federal holidays, there are a few restrictions on trails in the Bear Valley area. Please check at a visitor center for restrictions and current trail conditions Visiting With Your Dog Dogs, on leash, are welcome on four park beaches: Limantour Beach, North Beach, South Beach, and Kehoe Beach. The short trail leading to Kehoe Beach is the only park trail where dogs are permitted. Along the Bolinas Ridge Trail, in nearby Golden Gate NRA, dogs on leash are also allowed. For more information, please check at any visitor center or online. A common question asked here is, “Where can I see tidepools?” Only a few times a year, at negative low tides, does the intertidal zone open its doors to allow a glimpse of the harsh life of the plants and animals that live there. Plan ahead by finding out which days offer the safest opportunities for tidepool exploration. As the tide recedes more rocks are exposed, allowing you to see into these dynamic and enchanting life zones. Look at the chart below to plan your next tidepool adventure and to see just how rare a perfect tidepooling day is. Keep your eye on the water for rogue waves, watch your footing on slippery vegetation, and be mindful of the creatures living there. Date Time 11/13/2012 04:04 pm 12/11/2012 03:25 pm 12/12/2012 04:13 pm 1/09/2013 03:13 pm 1/10/2013 03:59 pm 2/07/2013 02:57 pm 2/08/2013 03:42 pm 2/09/2013 4:23 pm 4/28/2013 7:41 am 4/29/2013 8:40 am 4/30/2013 9:38 am 5/28/2013 8:21 am 5/29/2013 9:14 am 6/26/2013 7:58 am 7/25/2013 7:30 am 12/1/2013 3:45 pm 12/30/2013 3:29 pm 12/31/2013 4:14 pm Height in feet -1.3 -1.3 -1.7 -1.2 -1.5 -0.9 -1.1 -1.0 -1.4 -1.2 -1.0 -1.5 -1.1 -1.3 -1.0 -0.9 -1.1 -1.5 Hands and Hearts — Our Volunteers Just as grass roots efforts by committed citizens helped create the park 50 years ago, today Point Reyes National Seashore volunteers play an indispensable role, often making the difference between whether a project is accomplished or not. But the experience of volunteering is a reward unto itself, as attested by the two volunteers below. The famed Russian author Vladimir Nabokov said, “To be in a rarified land where a rare butterfly and it's host plant exists: all that I love rushes in like a momentary vacuum ... and I am at one.” That is what volunteering is for me. The fates have handed me a Border Collie talent to id butterflies on the wing. I love being in a place where my talent is not only appreciated but needed. The staff is completely inviting for all of us “nature geeks.” It’s a rarefied place—the National Seashore. Its beauty is so vast and humbling, it's stewardship transcends employees. ~ Liam I volunteer because Point Reyes needs to be preserved so future generations can have the same enjoyment it has given me all these years. The park, its staff, volunteers, and interns devote their time and love to make the park a better place for their community to enjoy. This place is full of excitement, curiosity and drive. Never have I worked in an environment with so much heart and dedication. The park staff are doing what they love and are sharing their knowledge with us. Participating as a volunteer has allowed me to give back to my community, and express my love and passion for this amazing spot on the planet. ~ Ariel If you would like more information about volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, please contact the Volunteers-In-Parks Program Manager at PORE_volunteer@nps.gov and 415-464-5225 or visit http://www.nps.gov/pore/supportyourpark/volunteer. Commemorating 50 Years 1962-2012 Page 5 Point Reyes, From the Ground Up O ver 5,ooo years of human history await your discovery at Point Reyes. More than just a natural sanctuary, this peninsula holds within its forested ridges, rolling grasslands, and coastal expanses the stories of people who came before us. Their cultures, interactions, and experiences are echoed in the landscape. These human layers offer a window into our past and hold the potential to shape our lives even today. An Inhospitable Place Coast Miwok—The First People Coast Miwok people inhabited small family villages in present-day Marin and Sonoma Counties for thousands of years. They enjoyed a rich economy based on gathering, fishing, and hunting. At the time of European contact, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 Coast Miwok lived in the area. Acorns, a nutritious starchy seed, were a favored staple of the Coast Miwok. A family of four ate about 500 pounds of acorns a year. Acorns, collected in autumn, were stored in granaries, and later prepared and cooked by the women. Miwok women also gathered and prepared plant materials—such as willow, hazel, lupine, and sedge—for making baskets. Many of these beautiful baskets are now in museum collections around the world. Miwok homes were built from anchored poles, covered with bark, or, in summer, from bundles of tule— a wetland sedge. You can learn more about Point Reyes’ first human inhabitants by taking a short walk to Kule Loklo, a recreation of a Coast Miwok village, near the Bear Valley Visitor Center (see map on page 5). Ranching at Point Reyes The Point Reyes Peninsula has a legacy of ranching. While cattle ranching existed during the Mexican Rancho period, dairying came to the Point Reyes peninsula soon after the California Gold Rush. The cool moist climate of Point Reyes provides ideal conditions for dairy cows—plenty of grass with a long growing season and abundant fresh water. Some early ranchers came west looking for gold, but, disappointed in that quest, found their fortunes making golden wheels of cheese and casks of butter. The 1880 History of Marin County remarked of Point Reyes, “The grass growing in the fields on Monday is butter on the city tables the following Sunday.” The national symbol of quality in butter became the letters PR in a star stamped into cheesecloth-wrapped casks of butter. Land disputes following the establishment of the state of California, and the resultant unpaid legal fees, led the San Francisco law firm of Shafter, Shafter, Park, and Heydenfeldt to own the entire peninsula. They sold the northernmost tip to Solomon Pierce and divided up the remaining land into tenant dairies named alphabetically: “A” Ranch—closest to the Lighthouse, through “Z” Ranch—at the summit of Mt. Wittenberg. “W” Ranch is the site of Bear Valley Visitor Center. Point Reyes is one of the windiest and foggiest places on the Pacific Coast. Powerful winter storms that often come howling in from the southwest dump volumes of water along the Inverness Ridge and continue across the Central Valley to blanket the Sierra Nevada with snow. In addition, springtime wind speeds can exceed 130 mph (210 kph). In summer, the temperature differential between the cool Pacific Ocean at around 52°F (11°C) and the warmer land causes dense fog to form along this coast. These hazardous conditions threaten the safety of the cargo and sailors that pass by the point. In the 1850s, as San Francisco became a major port, Congress authorized the construction of a lighthouse at Point Reyes. When the Point Reyes Lighthouse is open for tours, it provides a glimpse into the 19th Century