Tomales Bay SP
The Coast Miwok people were the first to inhabit the coastal area of sheltered coves, beaches, tidal marshes, and forest of Bishop pines now known as Tomales Bay State Park, forty miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sir Francis Drake was the first explorer to land in this area in 1579, followed by the Spanish in 1595. Russian and German scientists explored the area in the early 1800s.
In the 1940s real estate developers began to purchase large areas of beachfront land, prompting local residents and conservation groups to save this area as a park. In 1952, Tomales Bay State Park was formally dedicated and opened to the public.
Facilities and Activities
The day-use park features four gently sloping, surf-free beaches, protected from winds by Inverness Ridge, the backbone of the Point Reyes Peninsula. The park has hiking trails and is a popular place for picnicking, swimming, clamming and boating. Dogs are not permitted on the beaches or trails.
The Vista Point Group Picnic Area is the only reservable space within the park. With beautiful views overlooking the bay, this is a lovely spot for a wedding, filming, or large gatherings. More information is provided on the right (please scroll down).
The park includes forests, beaches, field, hills, meadows and marshes - each with its own plant life, including varieties of trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
One of the finest remaining virgin groves of Bishop pine in California is in the park's Jepson Memorial Grove, reached by way of a one mile long trail.
Wildlife in the area includes foxes, raccoons, badgers, weasels, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, deer, bobcats, skunks, wood rats, field mice, moles and other animals.
There are also land and sea birds, including the spotted owl, quail, goldfinches, puffins, great blue heron, pelicans, ruddy ducks, woodpeckers, meadowlarks - and more.
Gopher snakes, garter snakes, lizards, and monarch butterflies make the park their home. In the beach areas, several variety of clams live, as do many other kinds of fish.
Planning Your Trip
Parking Fees: There is an $8 per vehicle entrance fee ($7 for anyone 62 or over) required for parking at Tomales Bay State Park - Heart’s Desire Beach and Vista Point. Fees are payable by cash or check only. Please be aware that citations may be issued for nonpayment of parking fees.
Group Outings: Heart’s Desire Beach is very popular during summer weekends, especially on holiday weekends, and parking is limited. Groups meeting at Heart’s Desire Beach on a weekend/holiday should consider carpooling to the extent possible. If the group cannot carpool then plan arriving at or near the same time. Since cell phone coverage in this area is very limited, it may be difficult for members of the group to comunicate with one another if they are separated.
Once the parking lots have filled, the park is closed and no additional cars will be permitted - even to drop off people or load /unload equipment. Please be aware that on a busy weekend the parking lots can fill as early as 11:00 A.M.! Alternate parking at the Jepson Trailhead, on Pierce Point Road, is 1.5 miles from Heart’s Desire Beach.
Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on any of the beaches or trails at Tomales Bay State Park. Dogs are allowed only at the Vista Point picnic area and must be on leash at all times. If planning a group outing please make sure every member of the group knows about the park's dog policy. Leaving a dog in a vehicle is highly discouraged and may be illegal depending on conditions. If visitors plan to spend most of their time on the beaches or trails, they should consider leaving their dog at home.
Climate/Recommended Clothing: Weather can change quickly. Visitors should be prepared by dressing in layers.
The community of Inverness and the Point Reyes National Seashore are near the park. Past Tomales Bay State Park you will find beaches and historic ranches that compose the Point Reyes Seashore National Park. At the end of Pierce Point Road is the Tule Elk Preserve.
- Hours of Operation:
No Hours Listed
- Park Office Telephone:
San Francisco Bay AreaCounty
- Purchase Annual Passes
8 A.M. to Sunset
Address and Phone Number
Tomales Bay State Park
1208 Pierce Point Road
Inverness, Ca. 94937
Paying for Day Use - Update
Visitors can pay for parking at Heart's Desire Beach and Vista Point Picnic Area with cash or check only.