In Marin / GALLERY
WHAT YOU’LL SEE Mating and birthing behavior,
including male dominance contests and the interactions of mothers and pups. Listen for the distinctive
vocalizations of females and pups and the trumpeting
of the adult male as you make your way around the
Chimney Rock area.
HISTORY The elephant seals were absent from Point
Reyes for decades after overhunting, but a “new” colony
is thought to have migrated from the Farallones and Año
Nuevo rookeries. This colony, which now has more than
1,700 animals, all started with the first elephant seal pup
born at Drakes Beach in 1981.
WHERE TO PARK Chimney Rock parking lot, the closest
access point, provides limited spaces. From December to
April on weekends and holidays, shuttle buses run from
Drakes Beach to the lighthouse to Chimney Rock. Fare is
$7; free for ages 15 and under.
TIPS On weekends and holidays look out for docents
with binoculars and spotting scopes, who can help
identify and provide information about the seals. To
avoid crowds go on a weekday. Check nps.gov for
closures and more viewing tips.
WHILE ELEPHAN T SEALS spend most of their life at sea, from early fall through mid-spring a breeding colony of these huge pinnipeds (they can
weigh as much as 5,000 pounds) can be observed
from Elephant Seal Overlook near Chimney
Rock, above breathtaking Drakes Bay. JOSEPH SCHELL
Grab the binoculars and
head for the cliffs to see the
larger side of nature.