Hunted to the brink of extinction at the turn of the 20th century, the northern elephant seal has made a strong comeback in the past 100 years, thanks in part to both government restrictions on hunting and their own secluded, deep-sea lifestyle.
For just a few months each year, these unique creatures come ashore, returning to various spots along the California coast to compete, mate, and give birth. It’s a powerful ecological pageant that only plays out from mid-December through March/April.
The Point Reyes National Seashore offers a specific overlook near Chimney Rock, above Drakes Bay, where visitors can observe a colony of elephant seals through scopes and binoculars. On weekends from 11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., docents are on hand at the overlook to answer questions.
A special 30-minute slide program about elephant seals may be offered at the Historic Lifeboat Station, depending on staffing availability. Check at a visitor center for more information.
Point Reyes National Seashore. Meet docents at the Elephant Seal Overlook.
Stay at HI - Point Reyes, the only lodging within the boundaries of the national seashore.