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Elephant Seal Guided Walks

Explore Año Nuevo with a Docent Naturalist

gudied walks

The park offers guided walks lead by volunteer docent naturalist to see the elephant seals in their natural habitat inside the Natural Preserve. In addition, walks focused on the coastal geology and history are also provided throughout the year. 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 this period, you must be on a guided walk. 

These popular three-to-four mile hikes are considered moderate with varied terrain inlcuding sand dunes. They run 2.5 hours and operate daily from early morning to mid-afternoon, rain or shine.  Reservations are recommended for these guided walks. Visitors who are late for their guided walk will forfeit their reservations.

Guided Seal Walks (Brochure)

 Offered daily for families, individuals, or groups daily.
 Starting October 20 tickets go on sale as early as 56 days in advance, and no later than one day before arrival.
 Price per ticket: $7.00 Children age 3 and under are free.
 Children age 17 and under require one adult chaperone for each 10 children.
 Each walk has a capacity of 20 people, including chaperones.

Guided Walk Reservations

Please contact Reserve America at 1-800-444-4445 to reserve a guided seal walk.

If all guided walks on Reserve America are sold out, the park does release guided walk tickets on a first come first served basis. It is recommended that you arrive at the park before 12:00pm on weekends and holidays and 2:00pm on weekdays for a chance to purchase these tickets. Although there is no guarantee tickets will be available, the park typically releases 60-120 tickets per day.  

International Reservations 518-218-5078

Call Center Hours:
October 1 - February 28 Weekdays 9am - 5pm
                                        Weekends 9am - 3pm
March 1 - September 30 Daily 8am - 6pm
December 18 - December 31 Daily 8am - 5pm

Reservations can also be made online at:

ReserveAmerica 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.

Specialty Walks

School Group Walks are offered Monday through Friday mornings for first through 12th grade classes. See School Group Walks for more info.

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

What Should I Bring on the Tour?

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. 

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.