Sunset at Point Reyes National Seashore, CA

North Beach

When Mary and I were in Point Reyes National Seashore last month, we had three pretty good sunsets.  Here are a few great locations to watch the sun go down AND make a few photos while you are there.

After a long day of travelling and driving around the area to get oriented, we headed for the lighthouse and headlands, the jewels of the seashore.  We ran into overwhelming weekend crowds, a barricaded road, and a bus service – more on this later.  We decided to settle on an easy evening and stayed in Drakes Beach.

View of Drake's Bay and beach from above
View of Drake’s Bay and beach from above

Point Reyes Seashore is a quirk of nature.  It is part of the Pacific Plate with the San Andreas Fault running right through Tomales Bay.  It juts out into the Pacific with beaches that face North, South, and West.  Drakes Beach is south facing so has pretty good light all day, but is particularly nice in early morning and late afternoon.

Just up the road from Drakes Beach, and on the other side of the peninsula is North Beach.  North and South Beaches are on the west side of the Point Reyes peninsula and actually face a bit north.  It has a pretty big parking lot, nice restrooms, and had a fence and ice plant for foreground.  There were a few people on the beach, but it was not crowded.

North Beach

The next evening we decided to get the BIG PICTURE and drove up Mount Vision Road.  This is a very easy drive from Inverness and took us just 15-20 minutes to find a good spot about three-quarters of the way to the top.  Drakes Estero with its four long fingers will be on your right so you can keep an eye out for a good composition.  We used 70-200 mm short telephotos and of course, tripods to make these.

Drakes Estero in the foreground and Drakes Bay and Point Reyes Headlands in the background

During the weekends and other busy days, you can not drive up to the light house and headlands.  You need to park at Drakes beach and take a bus up and down.  This is inconvenient, but the only way to manage the crowds.  Plan on 60+ minutes just to buy your tickets, wait in line, and then take the ride up.  The bus stops at the lighthouse and then the Chimney Rock Trailhead.  You can wait for sunset here, but you will be battling the crowds at the lighthouse or trying to catch the last bus from Chimney Rock.

Mary and I decided late afternoon sun with some great clouds was good enough for us.  This photo was made about an hour before sunset.  The headlands face almost directly south and in the later afternoon, the side lighting is really pretty.

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We were disappointed not to get the lighthouse at sunset, but we hatched a plan to get up early the next day and drive up to the lighthouse before it opened.  Wow, did we have a serendipitous morning.  Read all about it in next week’s blog.

Mary walking the 300 plus steps down to the light house
Mary walking the 300 plus steps down to the light house

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