|More Than 400 Wild Elks Roaming Grasslands
in Point Reyes National Seashore in California
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The dominant handsome Alpha bull elk with a huge rack of 14 Points antlers bugling to his harem (group of
female elks sharing the Alpha bull elk) of cow elks on the large grasslands in the Tule Elk Preserve at the north
end of the peninsula (Tomales Point) of Point Reyes National Seashore in California. It was exciting to hear the
bugling of this strong Alpha bull elk. The antlers of another bull elk are visible at some distance on the right
side of this picture.
We drove north about 2 hours (76 miles) from San Francisco Bay Area to come to tour Point Reyes National
Seashore (PRNS) on Monday October 2, 2017. The Bear Valley Visitor Center of PRNS is located at 1 Bear
Valley Rd, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956. From the Bear Valley Visitor Center we drove north for about 17
miles (30 minutes) along Bear Valley Road, Sir Francis Drake Blvd, then Pierce Point Road to reach the Tule
Elk Preserve at the north end of PRNS peninsula. These roads are paved, but are bumpy. While on the Pierce
Point Road about one mile before reaching the Pierce Point Ranch, we were very happy to see a big herd of
elks including this handsome Alpha bull elk on the grassland.
A map of the northern part of Point Reyes National Seashore is available on this website.
Three more views of the Alpha bull elk with several of his harem of cow elks.
The harem of this Alpha elk has at least 30 cow elks as shown on these two pictures.
This picture shows the true distance between this herd of elks and us with our car on the Pierce Point Road.
Our visiting date of October 2 is in the mating season (rutting season) of elks. The Alpha bull elk with the huge
rack of powerful antlers during the rutting season is very aggressive to protect his harem of cow elks and may
attack any other bull elks or people getting too close to any cow elk in his harem. So, we stay at such safe
distance from the herd to enjoy watching and taking pictures of the elks in action by using my compact
super-zoom camera and to hear the bulging of the Alpha elk.
My compact super-zoom camera (Canon PowerShot SX 60 HS) has 65X optical zoom. I zoomed in to take the
close up pictures of the Alpha elk and other cow elks in the first four pictures above. The benefits of using such
compact super-zoom camera for tourists are described on my web page at:
Another view of the large herd of elks.
As we drove closer to the historic Pierce Point Ranch, we saw more herds of elks at great distance away.
At the parking lot of Pierce Point Ranch is the Trailhead for the 5-mile prime wildlife viewing trail (Tomales
Point Trail) for people to hike for 3 to 6 hours all the way to the northern tip of the peninsula of PRNS to enjoy
watching more elks, other wildlife (such as great blue heron, many turkey vultures, many hawks, American
kestrels, deer, coyote, long tailed weasel and some California quails ) and spectacular views of the Pacific
Ocean along the trail. The website of Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) indicates that there are more
than 400 elks in PRNS. (There are more than 4,000 elks in California.)
The last time that I saw such big herd of wild elks was in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta,
Canada and near the border with Montana in USA as shown on the last picture on my web page at:
A few Beta bull elks or bachelor male elks are roaming apart from the harem of the Alpha bull elk.
The Fall season is an exciting time of year on Tomales Point where visitors will likely hear bull elk bugling and
see them attempting to round up harems of females.
These beta bull elks with remarkable racks of antlers are handsome on their own right, but are defeated by the
Alpha bull elk in the rut and are forced to roam apart from the harem of the dominant Alpha bull elk. (The Alpha
bull elk as the winner in the rut takes all.) These beta bull elks seemingly content to browse all day and to wait
until their chance to rut with older, larger males next year.
While driving on the Pierce Point Road, we were happy to see the handsome Alpha bull elk with his large harem
of more than 30 wild cow elks and some other beta bull elks in their natural habitat shown above. We,
therefore, did not take that long hiking trail (Tomales Point Trail) to try to see more herds of wild elks.
People who hiked the 5-mile Tomales Point Trail (10 miles round trip) saw hundreds of elks. Experience of
some hikers on Tomales Point Trail can be seen in the following sample YouTube video:
More detailed story of Tule Elk in Point Reyes National Seashore can be seen at this 10-minute YouTube video.
Another beta bull elk with impressive rack of antlers.
One of many hawks hunting in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Nearing the northern end of the peninsula of Point Reyes National Seashore, there is a small, guano-covered
island off to the west that is shaped sort of like a turtle. This is “Bird Rock,” a refuge for nesting seabirds and
roosting flocks of pelicans, cormorants, murres, and sometimes shorebirds.
Magnificent and picturesque Tunnel of giant cypress trees located at 17850 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness,
CA 94937 in Point Reyes National Seashore. At the end of this tunnel is the historic RCA/Marconi Wireless
Telegraph Station (also known as KPH Radio Telegraph Station). The Monterey cypress “tree tunnel” at the
Point Reyes station is a signature landscape feature that evokes some of the prestige that RCA placed in this
profitable, historic wireless telegraph operation.
Map: Click here for interactive Google map showing the locations of this Tunnel of Cypress Trees and KPH
Radio Telegraph Station in Point Reyes National Seashore.
More beautiful photos of this magnificent Tunnel of Cypress Trees with fantastic golden sun rays in the
morning or late afternoon can be seen at this website.
The 10-Mile Beach of Point Reyes and Pacific Ocean as viewed from Pierce Point Road when we were driving
from Bear Valley Visitor Center to Tule Elk Preserve on the sunny day of October 2, 2017. The Point Reyes
Lighthouse is about 20 miles away at the far end in this picture.
When we drove north from Bear Valley Visitor Center to Tule Elk Preserve, we drove past several ranches
raising cattles in Point Reyes National Seashore. Many turkey vultures are circling above these cattle ranches.
Tomales Bay as viewed from Pierce Point Road when we were driving from Bear Valley Visitor Center to Tule
Elk Preserve. The scenery is gorgeous. A beautiful, peaceful place to visit while in Point Reyes National
In spring season, the grasslands here are green, lots of colorful wild flowers are in full bloom, spectacular!
Amazing views. Lots of elks, birds and other animals. Not many other people around. Nature at its best.
There are working oyster farms growing fresh oysters in the clean water of Tomales Bay and there are
several seafood restaurants or shacks along Highway 1 along the east shore of Tomales Bay near Point
Reyes National Seashore, such as Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Tony's Seafood Restaurant, Marshall
Store, Hog Island Oyster Co., Nick's Cove Restaurant, etc.
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing locations of these seafood restaurants and shacks near
These restaurants or shacks literally pluck the real fresh local oysters right from Tomales Bay and serve them
onto your plate in either raw fresh oysters or roasted incredible Chipoltle Oysters, or BBQ oysters which are
plump, juicy and give such a great flavor. Make sure to soak up the juice with their sourdough bread. They are
so delicious down to the last bite. In these restaurants or outdoor tables sitting right over the bay, visitors can
enjoy fantastic fresh oysters, clam chowder, Fish & Chips, yummy crab or other seafood and superb Tomales
Bay view, especially at sunset, with the faint breeze. You can even take your order for a walk along the pier
and down to a quaint & cozy sitting area over the water! It's so relaxing to just have a nice meal here. Simply
perfect, many really great choices on the menu.
This YouTube video provides a brief introduction of areas around Tomales Bay.
Oyster lovers may consider the fun Marin County Oyster Farm Tour and Tasting described on this website.
We stopped at Farm House for lunch on our way to Bear Valley Visitor Center of Point Reyes National
Seashore. We had BBQ oysters, clam chowder, and Fish & Chips. This restaurant is located at 10005
Highway One, Olema, CA 94950. It is at the junction of Highway 1 and Sir Francis Drake Blvd and is very
close to the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
The 10-Mile Beach of Point Reyes and Pacific Ocean as viewed from a Lookout Point near Point Reyes
Lighthouse from my previous trip 13 years ago on a cloudy day in August 2004.
Better pictures of the 10-Mile Beach of Point Reyes on a sunny and clear day can be seen at this website ,
this websit. and this website.
Several nice aerial views of Point Reyes National Seashore can be seen at this website.
Point Reyes National Seashore as viewed from a Lookout Point near Point Reyes Lighthouse from my
previous trip 13 years ago on a cloudy day in August 2004.
Jutting 10 miles into the Pacific Ocean, the headlands of the Point Reyes Peninsula offer one of the finest
spots to view the gray whale in spring migration. The areas around Chimney Rock and the Point Reyes
Lighthouse offer some of the best whale watching spots in the park. Many grey whales with their babies
migrate north from the warm water in Baja California area to the food rich areas in Alaska in the spring
season. The mother grey whales with their new born babies usually swim close to the shore to avoid the
danger of the baby whale being attacked and eaten by a pod of killer whales. A pod of killer whales often
acts like a pact of wolves with coordinated and well organized attacks that can be very effective and vicious.
Therefore, these migrating grey whales can be seen from the shore without getting on a boat. Just look for a
spout of water shooting into the air followed by a large whale surfacing and gracefully crashing through the
Whale watching experience from Point Reyes Lighthouse can be seen at the following sample YouTube video:
Similar picture of the tunnel of cypress trees taken from my previous trip 13 years ago on a cloudy day in
Magnificent Drake Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. Notice the high cliff and tiny size of three visitors in
the middle of this picture. This picture was taken in my previous trip 13 years ago in August 2004.
In my 2004 trip at Drake Beach, I enjoyed very much watching many brown pelicans wheel and plunge dive
from mid-air down into water to catch fish. The following website provides a demonstration of such brown
pelican in such plunge diving.
Winter season is the mating season of elephant seals (海象). Many elephant seals show up on this Drake
Beach in the winter season and attract many visitors to come watch. From December through March a
breeding colony of elephant seals can be observed from Elephant Seal Overlook near Chimney Rock, above
beautiful Drakes Bay. The male adult elephant seals grow to as much as 5,000 lbs and 16 ft long.
The location of "Elephant Seal Overlook" can be seen on this map and another map.
If you visit Chimney Rock in the late winter or spring, your first destination upon arrival should be the Elephant
Seal Overlook. It's a short hike on a well maintained gravel trail overlooking Drakes Bay, about 1/2 mile round
trip between the parking area and the overlook. The overlook at the end of the trail gives you an unsurpassed
view of the Elephant Seal colony on the beach below.
From the Elephant Sea Overlook visitors can witness the fascinating behavior of these animals, including male
dominance contests, birthing of pups and the interactions of mothers and pups, can hear the distinctive
vocalizations of females, pups and the powerful trumpeting of the adult males (bulls) which can be heard for
over a mile.
Due to the big crowd and high volume of traffic going south to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock
areas during the elephant seal pupping and mating season (winter season), the park will be operating a shuttle
bus system from the Drakes Beach parking lot (usually from New Year's Day to Easter each year on weekends
and holidays--weather permitting). Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from South Beach to the Point Reyes
Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas WILL BE CLOSED during shuttle operating hours.
Activities of elephant seals in Point Reyes can be seen on the following sample YouTube video:
Another place to watch elephant seals in action in the winter season is The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal
Rookery spreads over 6 miles of shoreline around Point Piedras Blancas on the central coast of California as
shown on my web page at:
The experience of hiking on Chimney Rock Trail can be seen on the following sample YouTube video:
During the migration season of tern and shorebirds, visitors may see many terns or shorebirds in action on the
Drake Beach as shwon on this website and this website.
In the spring season and early summer season, thousands of seabirds, common murres, struggle to protect
their incubating eggs while perched on the surf-pounded rocky cliffs below the Point Reyes Lighthouse. A
picture of 16,000 pairs of common murres perched on the rock below Point Reyes Lighthouse in June can be
seen on this website, this website, this website and this website.
Visitors to the Lighthouse may also witness peregrine falcons chasing marauding ravens from their nests and
The location of Point Reyes Lighthouse and such rocky cliff are shown on this map and another map.
Being half way down on a high cliff, the Point Reyes lighthouse is not accessible by car directly. From the
parking lot above, visitors have to walk 0.4 mile plus a 300-step long stairway down to reach the lighthouse.
The views from the lighthouse on such high cliff is breathtaking. Many pictures of the gorgeous Point Reyes
Lighthouse and its associated 300-step long stairway down can be seen on this website and on these
sample YouTube video
However, it is a MAJOR hike back up. People with physical limitations may want to skip this long hike down
For whale watching, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse as described on my web page is on a flat terrain and is
much easier to access as compared to Point Reyes Lighthouse with the challenging 300-step long stairway.
But being on a high cliff, Point Reyes Lighthouse has a better Top-to-Down view of the whales below and
near the cliff.
The Spectacular Muir Beach Overlook
From Sausalito, CA, if one takes Highway 101 north for a short distance, then takes the winding Highway 1
(Shoreline Highway) northwest over the mountains of Marin County to southern part of Point Reyes National
Seashore, the views from the Muir Beach Overlook near Highway 1 on another high cliff are also spectacular
as shown in the following sample YouTube websites:
Muir Beach Overlook is located at 150 Seascape Drive, Muir Beach, CA 94965 near Highway 1. I visited
Muir Beach Overlook to enjoy the breathtaking views during my previous trip 13 years ago in 2004.
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Muir Beach Overlook near Highway 1
After Muir Beach Overlook, we continued driving north on Highway 1 into southern part of Point Reyes
National Seashore and we saw lots of wildlife activities on Bolinas Lagoon including pelican, sea lion, shore
birds, egret, seal, etc similar to those in this YouTube video , this YouTube video. this YouTube video and
this YouTube video. There are also many clams in Bolinas Lagoon as shown on this YouTube video.
Magic of Bioluminescence on Tomales Bay at Night
In Tomales Bay at night, when the single celled organisms called dino-flagellates in the water are disturbed,
they produce chemicals that emit light, resulting in the water to glow in brilliant green color. The effect is
magical as shown on a sample picture on this website. These tiny critters emit short flashes of light when
disturbed. Seals chasing the fish in the bay at night may create a phosphorescent event which can be very
exciting to watch. Night Herons are often out and about as well, chasing the same schools of fish. All this
glowing activity is only visible at night when the sun and moon are both down. One can see this only when it
is pitch-dark. For a couple of months (such as September) a year when all the variables align: water
temperature, air temperature, winds, currents, and tides, the magic will show.
Some kayak rental companies offer guided kayak tour on Tomales Bay at night for tourists to enjoy such
magic of Bioluminescence.
Beautiful Spring Wildflowers in Point Reyes:
In the spring and early summer every year, Point Reyes National Seashore attracts droves of flower lovers
to its rugged coastal bluffs and mossy Douglas fir forests. The park’s champion flower walk is the 1.4-mile,
bluff-top Chimney Rock Trail, with an overflowing banquet of poppies, owl’s clover, tidy tips, checkerbloom,
paintbrush, Douglas iris, and footsteps-of-spring.
If you can’t get enough flower power at Chimney Rock Trail, drive north on Pierce Point Road to Abbotts
Lagoon, where an easy 1.6 mile trail west rewards you with fantastic golden poppies field as shown on this
website plus many other kinds of wildflowers. There are also lots of wildlife in this area such as Rabbits,
California Quail, Red-wing Blackbirds, White-crown Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Ravens, Turkey Vultures, Red
Tail Hawks, egrets, herons, unidentified Gulls, and Wrentits.
Restaurants Near Point Reyes National Seashore:
TripAdvisor's Reviews of Restaurants near Point Reyes National Seashore are at:
Lodging near Point Reyes National Seashore:
Yelp's Reviews of limited lodging facilities near Point Reyes National Seashore are at:
If you are willing to drive east on winding mountain roads for about half hour to reach San Rafael or other
towns along Highway 101, then there are more choices of better hotels along Highway 101.