Elephant Seal Guided Walks
Explore Año Nuevo with a Docent
The park offers guided walks lead by volunteer docent naturalist to see the northern elephant seals in their natural habitat inside the Año Nuevo Coast Natural Preserve. Año Nuevo docents go through extensive training and are highly knowledgeable in the natural and cultural history of the park. Elephant seal acivities and population counts can vary widely throught the guided walk season.
When: Guided 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.
Who: During the guided walk season, walks 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: The trail to see the elephant seals includes a 3-4 mile hike and is considered moderate with varied terrain including sand dunes.
Time Needed: Guided walks run 2.5 hours from start to finish and operate daily from early morning to mid-afternoon, rain or shine.
Price: $7.00 + $3.99 reservation fee for public walks. Children age 4 and under are free.
How: Online reservations are recommended, espeically weekends and holidays.
Guided Walk Reservations
To make reservations for the Elephant Seal Guided Walks visit ReserveCalifornia or call 1-800-444-4445. International Reservations 518-218-5078
Reservations go on sale Oct 20 for the following winter. Tickets are then released 56 days ahead of the ticket date.
Call Center Hours: Daily 8am - 6pm.
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.
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 and cannot make the 3-4 mile walk.
Spring, Summer, Fall Guided Walks - Elephant seal viewing is self-guided from April to November. No reservation is needed. To schedule a guided walk with a docent for a organized group during this time contact the park at 650-879-2025.
What Should I Bring?
- 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 jacket, layered clothing, and sturdy walking shoes. Bring water for drinking on the trail.
- Cameras 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.
- 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.
- Pets are not allowed in the park and cannot be left inside parked vehicles in the parking lot.