Point Reyes, California audio tour: A Drive Through Time: A Ranching History of Point Reyes National Seashore

A Drive Through Time: A Ranching History of Point Reyes National Seashore

Driving Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

This is the story of a magnificent park and its odd relationship with the dairy ranches that are part of it.

“Cows in a park?” you might ask? Well, yes. They were here long before the Point Reyes National Seashore Park was formed. And they are a vital part of present-day Point Reyes. The farmers who can recall traditional rural life in West Marin are a treasure to this community.

We’ve gathered their memories to help explain how agriculture evolved here and the role it plays today in protecting the cultural and natural resources of this area.

Tour Producer


Claire Schoen

Award-winning producer Claire Schoen creates stories in sound for radio, podcast and audio-tour. She has taught audio production at Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and Duke University.

Major Landmarks

  • The Bear Valley visitor center

  • The Point Reyes Lighthouse and visitor center

Directions to Starting Point

Start at the parking lot in front of the Bear Valley Visitor Center in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The visitor center is located at 1 Bear Valley Road, a half-mile west of Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) and the town of Olema. From Point Reyes Station, drive south on Highway 1 for 2.2 miles, turn right on Bear Valley Road and go 0.5 mile until you reach the Bear Valley Visitor Center entrance on the left.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

The Bear Valley visitor center
The town of Inverness
Drakes Estero pullout
Marconi View pullout

The Point Reyes Lighthouse and visitor center

Best time of day

This tour takes you to the Pt. Reyes lighthouse. If you want to visit the lighthouse itself at the end of the drive, please note that it is closed on certain days of the week. Also, due to its popularity in the winter months, traffic to the lighthouse is sometimes diverted to Drake’s Beach on the weekends where you can hop a shuttle over to the lighthouse. In either case, this tour will take you to the end of your drive. You can check with the rangers or online about the lighthouse schedule.


Driving the speed limit is a good idea – especially through the two little towns!


I really enjoyed this tour! Perfect for a drive from the Point Reyes Ranger Station out to the Lighthouse. You learn a lot and the landscape takes on a richness only history and the voices who saw it can bring. Just do it!

Posted by Andrew C , over 5 years ago
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A Drive Through Time: A Ranching History of Point Reyes National Seashore