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Elephant Seal Guided Walks

Explore Año Nuevo with a Docent

The park offers guided walks lead by volunteer docent naturalist to see the elephant seals in their natural habitat inside the Natural Preserve. Año Nuevo docents go through extensive training and are highly knowledgeable in the natural and cultural history of the park. These walks begin December 15 and continue every day until March 31 with exceptions on December 25 (Christmas) and the last weekend in January for an annual fundraising event, Seal Adventure.

To view the seals during the breeding season (Dec through March), you must be on a guided walk. 

General Information for Winter Guided Walks

Guided walks during the winter are offered daily for families, individuals, or groups. Children age 17 and under require one adult chaperone for each 10 children. Each walk has a capacity of 20 people, including chaperones.

Length: These popular three-to-four mile hikes are considered moderate with varied terrain inlcuding sand dunes. 

Time Needed: They run 2.5 hours and operate daily from early morning to mid-afternoon, rain or shine.

Price: $7.00 + $3.99 reservation fee for public walks. Children age 3 and under are free.

How: Online reservations are recommended for these guided walks.

Guided Walk Reservations

Tickets go on sale Oct 20 for the following winter.

To make reservations visit ReserveCalifornia at or call 1-800-444-4445.

International Reservations 518-218-5078

Call Center Hours: Daily 8am - 5pm

ReserveCalifornia is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. All times are Pacific Standard Time.

There are no ticket refunds or exchanges for cancellations, no shows, weather, or late arrivals. Refunds are issued only when the park staff must cancel a walk. As much notice as possible wil be given in the event of a cancellation.

Walk-in tickets available Monday through Friday.

Specialty Seal Walks

School Group Walks are offered year-round Monday through Friday mornings for 4-12 grades and in the spring for K-3 grades. 

Equal Access Walks are offered to visitors who require mobile assistance or the accompaniment of a service animal. 

Spring, Summer, Fall Guided Walks - Elephant seal viewing is self-guided from April to November. To schedule a guided walk with a docent for a group during this time contact the park at 650-879-2025.

What Should I Bring on the Guided Walk?

Elephant Seal Walks are conducted rain or shine. Winter weather can be very cold and windy, even on sunny days. Rain is frequent and the trail may be muddy with small puddles.

Visitors should bring hooded rain gear,a warm jacketlayered clothing, and sturdy walking shoes

and photography are permitted. Although there are no restrictions on flashes, photographers are restricted to stay with the guided walk group and cannot leave. Staying 25 feet from the elephant seals is firmly enforced. 

Bring water for drinking on the trail.

Binoculars are helpfull for seeing seals further out on the beaches and on the island.

What Not To Bring

For safety reasons, use of umbrellas are not permitted on the walks. 

Baby strollers
 are also not permitted for safety reasons. Families may use them for the first .9 mile walk to the staging area but must then leave them there for the rest of the tour. 

No food is allowed on the tour, but you may picnic in designated areas before or after the guided walk.

 are not allowed in the park and cannot be left inside parked vehicles in the parking lot.