Point Reyes Lighthouse California- A Day Trip with Family


Have you visited a lighthouse?



Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse and make it a day trip with family



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Point Reyes is a headland ( a cliff that juts out into a body of water ) about 10 nautical miles from San Francisco Bay. It is located in Marin County, about 30 miles from Golden Gate Bridge. The Point Reyes Lighthouse is on the ledge of Point Reyes, built in 1870s and was decommissioned in 1975 when it was automated. It is now preserved and managed by the National Park Service.


Notice how Point Reyes extends into the Pacific Ocean.

Point Reyes Lighthouse on the Point Reyes Headland. The lighthouse has warned sailors of navigational hazards for 105 years.

The Point Reyes Lighthouse




The Point Reyes Lighthouse


Lower Chamber

The ground floor is the watchroom. The walls depict the history of the lighthouse and its keepers.


Jorge and Troy in the ground floor of the light house

The exhibit on the panels showing the history of the lighthouse and the keepers


Middle Chamber

The original clockwork was located in the middle chamber. This is also where you can get a closer look of the First Order of Fresnel Lens.


The door into the middle chamber

The clockwork mechanism and the Fresnel Lens up into the main chamber. This historic piece is made up of brass and cast iron. Visitors are not allowed to touch it to prevent tarnishing and corrosion.


Main Chamber

The main chamber is the 16 sided lighthouse and where the Fresnel Lens shines its light 20 miles into the horizon, thereby preventing many disasters at sea. First Order Fresnel Lens of Point Arena Light Station was first lit on December 1, 1870.


The 16 sided main chamber of the lighthouse

FIRST ORDER FRESNEL LENS, LOOKING SOUTH - Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes Station, Marin County, CA HABS CAL,21-POREY,1-3

The lighthouse on a foggy day

Adjacent to the lighthouse is the equipment building that houses the Point Reyes Lighthouse old fog signal technology. Here you will see the 1947 super typhoon foghorns,the old air compressors and back up power generator. The foghorns warned mariners when there is no visibility of the massive headland due to thick fog.


The Equipment Building

The Foghorns are now replaced by the modern beacon and GPS.

The back up power generator

The Keeper’s work desk


To get to the lighthouse from the observation deck, you have to go down the 308-steps-stairs, about as tall as a 30 story building. Please make sure you are physically fit to embark in this activity. As you go down or up the stairs, you can take periodic rests on several landings with small observation areas to catch your breath or just enjoy the view.The stairs closes at 4:30 pm.


The concrete steps that lead to the lighthouse was built in 1939.

There is that landing and viewing area on the left behind Jorge.


Bring binoculars and you can sit at the observation deck for bird and whale watching or watch the beautiful sunset. The Observation deck is located at the top of the stairs and it is open up to 9:45 pm everyday. Point Reyes is the windiest area of the Pacific Coast and the 2nd foggiest in the US. It is best to dress in layers because it could get really chilly anytime of the day.


At the Observation Deck

My niece Daphne at the Observation Deck


The Lighthouse Visitor Center is where you see a display of lighthouse history. You can also see the Fresnel Lens of the decommissioned San Francisco Lightship. You can buy assorted souvenirs from the visitor center.


Local birds in Point Reyes. Touching this exhibit is not allowed.

This is the touch table. Visitors can carefully touch the exhibit but not move the items.

The Fresnel Lens from San Francisco Lightship


The Ocean Exploration Center that is attached to the visitor center serve to educate the visitors on the life on the seashores and off the coast of Point Reyes. You can also look out the big picture window and enjoy the beautiful view below, while being protected from the gusty wind.


The big picture window inside the Ocean Exploration Center


It is about a half mile of uphill walk from the parking lot to the visitor center. Walk slow and enjoy the beautiful view. There are plenty of photo spots on the way to the visitor center. Wear comfortable pair of shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking.


There are designated trails and visitors are urged to stick to these trails for their own safety. The approved official trails are the paved service road that leads to the visitor center from the parking lot, the dirt trail leading north from the shuttle stop to the South Beach Overlook and Sea Lion Overlook which is located east of the Lighthouse parking lot.


The paved trail from the parking lot to the visitor center

overlook view along the paved trail from the parking lot to visitor center

The iconic Cypress Trees along the paved trail to the visitor center


Parking is limited and it is easier to find a spot early in the day. If there is no more parking spots, you can park parallel on the road as long as your vehicle does not impede traffic. There is accessibility parking inside the gate at 0.3 miles to the visitor center.


The uphill walk from the parking lot, through the gate towards the visitor center


There are no stores near the area so bring water and food specially if you have children with you. The wind gusts could be up to 40mph, so stay away from the edge of the cliffs and stay inside the fences and enclosures. Dress in layers or bring a sweater because the Point Reyes weather is always cold and chilly. Pets are prohibited, but service dogs are allowed.


There are restrooms in the visitor parking lot and right before you each the visitor center. They are open up to 10 pm. Use the restroom before taking the 308 step stairs as there are no restrooms down at the lighthouse.


My whole family had a wonderful visit at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The sky was clear and sunny and we were in awe of the natural beauty of the place. It was an awesome privilege to see this maritime historic piece.





If you have any questions please feel free to ask me or leave a comment or feedback at the bottom of this page.

You can also email me at lilibeth@lifeisadventures.com.

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