Año Nuevo State Park


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Año Nuevo State Park  is about 55 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 1, and is known for its elephant seal breeding colony. This is one of the world’s largest colonies for the northern elephant seal. The seals swim  an average of 2000 miles every year on their migration from the Arctic to Año Nuevo.


We were there on the very first day of what is considered ‘Juvenile Haul Out Season’, which begins after the April-August Molting Season. To see the babies, you need to take a guided hike with a docent during breeding season which is mid-December through March. The park is closed for two weeks at the beginning of December when the pregnant females arrive to give birth.


When it’s not breeding season, you must hike from the visitor center over about 3 miles of sand dunes to the seal viewing platform. We were concerned that my disabled cousin wouldn’t be able to do that hike with her cane and unsteady feet. I checked into the state park’s Equal Access program and was able to reserve a docent-guided tour that bypassed the sandy hike.


We arrived in the midst of a blistering heat wave, a little early for our scheduled tour. We perused the exhibits in the Visitor Center and watched the short film. The journey the elephant seals make each year is remarkable!


Then we boarded a van and our guide drove us on unpaved park roads to the Equal Access Trail. This is a quarter-mile boardwalk trail out to the viewing platform. Our guide walked with us, pointing out various flora and fauna along the way.


What a wonderful service this is for the disabled! We are so grateful to the park and our docent for providing us with this amazing experience. We learned a lot about the elephant seal life cycle and saw some huge bulls on the shore.

Location: 1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

Designation: State Park

Date designation declared: 1985

Date of my visit: September 2017

Año Nuevo Island is just off the point and is part of the State Park and Reserve. The abandoned buildings are the remains of a 19th century light-keeping station.

11 thoughts on “Año Nuevo State Park

  1. Don Wagner

    Wonderful story. I never knew this park existed. They are incredible animals and I hope they are protected.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Cool! I grew up in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, and never knew about this park. I’m glad that the seals and other wildlife are protected, and I hope to see them on my next visit to the Golden State.

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