The Point Reyes Lighthouse is in the Gulf of the Farallones on Point Reyes in Marin County, California. (We’re temporarily swiping it for both Sonoma and San Francisco. If you drive south down the Sonoma coast from Bodega Bay, there is that beautiful lighthouse. And, the lighthouse protects sailors coming into the San Francisco Bay. This is called justifying swiping the lighthouse.)
A lighthouse was assigned to Point Reyes in 1855, but construction was delayed for fifteen years. (Governments, it seems, have ever been thus.) The lighthouse is a sixteen sided, 37-foot tower. The first-notch Fresnel lens was first lit on December 1, 1870. Electricity came to the lighthouse in 1938, and concrete steps were built into the cliff in 1939. The station was automated in 1975.
Point Reyes is a pristine and surreal place. When you’re there, you imagine the families who lived there, and still do, keeping careful vigilance over the desperate waters. The closet town is Inverness, 19 miles away. The lighthouse is bolted to solid rock, and has withstood storms and earthquakes.
The lighthouse welcomes you to visit. To reach the lighthouse, you have to walk down 308 steps to the headland. (This is where family quarters used to be.) Today, the family quarters are two-story, four-family units built in 1960. The four-plex contains two 2-bedroom and two 3-bedroom units. Other buildings on the outcropping are the fog signal building, engine room, pump house, paint locker, double garage and a four-car carport with adjoining office and work shop.
Point Reyes is the windiest and foggiest point on the Pacific Coast. The station is frequently blanketed by week-long periods of fog, and few years pass that do not see violent gales of 75 to 100 mph strike.
Tourists love Point Reyes Lighthouse Station. (Although, everyone is not crazy about the steps…) On nice summer days they often have several hundred visitors. This means you will never feel crowded even on the nicest of days.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse, and its history, is something to experience. It is one of the few working lighthouses left in the United States, and it is a true hidden gem.