Viewing the Elephant Seals

VIEWING THE SEALS APRIL-NOVEMBER

April - November: Elephant seal viewing is self-guided from April to November. No tours or reservations are needed to visit the elephant seals.

Starting April 1, guided tours are not required to see the seals. Instead, you walk out to the viewing areas on your own on the Año Point Trail. At each of the viewing areas, there is a docent to explain what you’re seeing and answer questions. A free permit is required to visit the seals. The free permit is available at the park from 8:30-3:30, daily. There is a day use/parking fee. Visitors will not be able to obtain a permit after 3:30 pm due to the length of time it takes to hike to the viewing areas. Your visit to see the seals is a self-guided walk.

Elephant seal viewing requires a 3-4 mile moderate hike over varied terrain, including sand dunes. Driving to see them is not an option. Sturdy shoes, layered clothing, water and rain/wind/sun protection are recomended. The farthest viewing area is a 4-mile roundtrip walk from the parking lot. The closest viewing area is about a 3-mile roundtrip walk from parking. Which viewing areas we open all depends on the seals. If they are blocking trails to a viewing area, we don't open that spot. The walk is mostly flat, with one tall sand dune to walk over. 

Visitors requiring mobility assistance are encouraged to make a reservation for an Equal Access Tour

Specialty Seal Walks

Spring, Summer, Fall Guided Walks - Elephant seal viewing is self-guided from April to November. No reservation or guided tour is needed. To schedule a guided walk with a docent for an organized group during this time, contact the park at 650-879-2029.

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 and cannot make the 3-4 mile walk.