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Tomales Bay State Park
Driving Directions to Tomales Bay SP
Camping and Lodging
Online reservations are not available for this park.
Brochures and Campground Maps
Celebrate the Coast Event
Come join us on Sunday, September 28th, 2014 from 9am to 3pm for a day packed with activities!
9am - 10am - Birds of the Beach interpretive talk with Sam from CA State Parks
10am - Noon - Try out kayaks and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) with Jeff from Clavey Paddlesports (adults only)
11am - 2pm - Biologist on the Beach interpretive program with Erin from Bodega Marine Lab
11am - Noon - Goggle viewing of Eelgrass Critters with Chandell from CA State Parks (kids 5-12 yrs old)
Noon - 1pm - Kayak Safety, PFD's and wet exits with Chris from Blue Waters Kayaking (adults only)
1pm - 3pm - Demo of Adaptive Kayaking Gear with Oren from Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC)
Join Cathleen from CA State Parks for beach clean up anytime between 9am and 3pm
This is a free event. Parking is $8 per vehicle. All portions of the event will be held at Hearts Desire Beach. No reservations necessary.
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.