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Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Aerial View
Point Reyes is a prominent cape on the Pacificmarker coast of northern Californiamarker. It is located in Marin Countymarker approximately 30 mi (48 km) WNW of San Franciscomarker. The term is often applied to the Point Reyes Peninsula, the region bounded by Tomales Baymarker on the northeast and Bolinas Lagoon on the southeast. The headland is protected as part of Point Reyes National Seashoremarker.


Point Reyes was originally named Punto de los Reyes ("Kings' Point") by the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino as his ship, the Capitana anchored in Drake's Baymarker on the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany, or the end of the 12 Days of Christmas) on January 6, 1603.

The entire Point Reyes Peninsula is a piece of the Salinian Block transported northward by the San Andreas Faultmarker. Its core is granite, unlike the terrain east of Tomales Bay. The San Andreas Fault runs directly under Tomales Bay.

The cape protects Drakes Baymarker on its southern side. The headland is largely drained by Drakes Estero. Drake's Bay and Drale's Estero are named after Engish seafarer Sir Francis Drake who likely hauled his ship, the Golden Hinde, up onto the beach for repairs in June of 1579. Inverness Ridge runs along the peninsula's northwest-southeast spine, with forested peaks around 430 meters (1,400 ft). West of the ridge, the land flattens out and the vegetation turns to scrub. The Mount Vision fire in 1995 burned part of Inverness Ridge.

Point Reyes lends its name to the town of Point Reyes Station, Californiamarker.

Recreation and history

South Beach and Point Reyes Peninsula

The peninsula is a popular recreational destination for the nearby San Francisco Bay Areamarker, especially for hiking on its many trails and sea kayaking the shores of Tomales Bay and the coast. Point Reyes National Seashore offers some of the finest birdwatching in the United States. More than 70,000 acres of habitat harbor an incredible variety of bird life. Nearly 490 avian species have been observed in the park and on adjacent waters.

Vegetation native to Point Reyes includes Bishop pine, Douglas-fir, coyote brush, monkeyflower, poison oak, California blackberry, salal and coast redwood, among others.

During the Cold War, submarines repaired at Mare Island Naval Shipyardmarker were tested in the shallow waters off Point Reyes following shipyard repairs. Navy safety personnel used a small monitoring and communications hut on the peninsula for monitoring submarines during these sea trials.

In April and May of 1979, part of John Carpenter's The Fog was shot at the Point Reyes Lighthouse and surrounding area.


The U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) maintained a cooperative weather station in the Point Reyes lighthouse from 1914 to 1943. Based on those records, average January temperatures ranged from to and average September temperatures ranged from to . The highest temperature recorded was 90 °F (32 °C) on October 3, 1917, and the lowest temperature recorded was 31 °F (-1 °C) on January 19, 1922. Annual precipitation averaged . The wettest year on record was 1941 with and the driest year was 1923 was . The most precipitation in one month was in December 1916. The maximum 24-hour precipitation was on December 15, 1929.


It can get very foggy and windy during certain parts of the year at the lighthouse, where visibility is so slim that one cannot even view the lighthouse from the top of the approximately 300 steps necessary to walk down to reach it.

The lighthouse serves a great purpose in such a foggy area, as there is no beach to wash up on; it is on a rocky cliff. Day or night, the light may be the only thing visible to ships.

Point Reyes Lighthousemarker was used in the John Carpenter film The Fog (as the radio station for Antonio Bay).

Image:PointReyesStairwayToHeaven.jpg|Stairway to Heaven at Point Reyes.Image:Point Reyes in Fog.jpg|Point Reyes Lighthouse in fog.Image:Tule Elk Point Reyes.jpg|Tule Elk grazing by the seaside.

See also


  1. Point Reyes' name now 400 years old
  2. Central California

External links

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