ranchers supported the seashore, others saw
an unwanted federal takeover of their lands.
The Marin Independent Journal ran a commentary entitled “Point Reyes Seashore? No!” and
San Francisco radio station KCBS broadcast its
own editorial saying that scrubby Point Reyes
wasn’t pretty enough to preserve.
Working with sympathetic representatives
like Congressman Clem Miller and Sen. Clair
Engle, the preservationists fought back. One
potent weapon was a book, Island in Time: The
Point Reyes Peninsula, by science journalist
Harold Gilliam with photography by Philip
Hyde. In his introduction, Gilliam wrote,
“By some incredible aberration, this area has
escaped, thus far, the frenetic tides of human
activity that elsewhere in the region have
erased the evidence of history, the plant and
animal life, the natural forms of the land. This
is the Point Reyes Peninsula — Island in Time.”
It must have helped: President John F.
Kennedy signed the bill establishing Point
Reyes National Seashore on September 13, 1962.
BY MIDMORNING, POINT REYES is busy. At
the Bear Valley trailhead, a Union City Boy Scout
troop is putting on backpacks, ready for the trek
to Sky Camp, one of the seashore’s three back-country camps. At Point Reyes Hostel, Nancy
Reynolds directs guests to the Laguna Trail.
The backpackers and the hostel guests are
spending the night, of course. But most of the
seashore’s 2.5 million annual visitors are day-trippers, here for only two to six hours. “That’s
always been a challenge for us,” Dell’Osso says.
How do you get people to appreciate the park,
when they’re so pressed for time? The seashore
depends on educational showmanship, like the
new Ocean Exploration Center that opened at
Point Reyes Lighthouse in June. And on the
cadre of volunteer docents who explain everything from whales to wildflowers.
Point Reyes can grab your attention all on
its own, of course. It may not have geysers or
giant sequoias, but it has its subdued gran-
deur. Walk Limantour Beach or hike Inverness
Ridge, and you find yourself thinking, this is
The seashore is a
special place. Its 70,000
acres include 33,000
acres of wilderness and
80 miles of coastline
that range from
sheltered to craggy.
Opposite: A tree-lined path
near Wildcat Beach. This
page: John F. Kennedy signs
the bill establishing Point
Reyes National Seashore.