8AM - SUNSET
No overnight use
Tomales Bay State Park
As of Wednesday, September 9, 2020, all trails, beaches and parking areas of Tomales Bay State Park have reopened for day-use.
Here are some guidelines for people visiting Tomales Bay State Park:
What is open now?
- Parking and Kiosk
What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
- Many campgrounds across the state remain closed until further notice. Some campgrounds have started to reopen with modifications. For more information, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping.
- Many high public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
- Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.
Are there any new visitor guidelines?
Yes, please see below:
- Stay Local: Stay close to home. Walk or bike into the park. Parking is very limited. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.
- Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails.
- Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors will be asked to leave if there are too many people at the park, beach or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
- Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
- Stay Covered: The state now requires you to wear a face covering in most indoor settings and public outdoor spaces when you cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet or more from people outside of your immediate household. For details, please visit CDPH’s guidance here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.
Thank you for your patience and continued support of California State Parks as we work to limit your risk for exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. For more information, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.
- Drones are prohibited at Tomales Bay State Park per Superintendents Order.
- Mushroom collecting is not allowed at Tomales Bay State Park.
- Dogs are not allowed on any of the beaches or trails at Tomales Bay State Park. Except for service animals, dogs are only permitted at the Vista Point picnic area and must remain on leash at all times.
- Bicycles are prohibited on all trails at Tomales Bay State Park
See below for more information on these notices and other important reminders.
Facilities and Activities
This day-use park features multiple gently sloping, surf-free beaches, protected from winds by Inverness Ridge, the backbone of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Tomales Bay State Park is composed of 3 distinct use areas:
- Heart's Desire - Located at 1100 Pierce Point Road, in Inverness, Heart's Desire is the heart of Tomales Bay State Park. Here you will find the parks Ranger Station, Heart's Desire Beach, Vista Point Picnic Area, and hiking trails to Indian Beach, Pebble Beach, and Shell Beach. Dogs are not permitted on any beaches or trails in this area.
- Shell Beach - Located at the end of Camino Del Mar in Inverness, Shell Beach offers two small beaches with access to the Johnstone trail which connects to Heart's Desire. The beaches are only accessible by hiking trail from the parking lot and spaces in the lot are very limited. Dogs are not permitted on any beaches or trails in this area.
- Millerton Point Located at 15475 HWY 1, north of Point Reyes Station, Millerton Point sits on the inland side of the bay and features Alan Sieroty Beach along with a loop trail. Dogs are not permitted on the beach, but are allowed on the loop trail while on leash.
In addition to hiking, the park is a popular place for picnicking, swimming, clamming and boating. Overnight parking and camping are prohibited. 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 reservation 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. Note that all plants and wildlife within the park are protected. Collecting or destroying anything in the park, including mushrooms, is prohibited. Contact the nearby Bear Valley Visitor Center at (415)464-5100 for information on mushroom collecting in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
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 Heart’s Desire Beach and Vista Point. Fees are payable by credit or debit card 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 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.
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. Camping facilities are located 20-25 minutes from the park in the town of Olema, and at Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas.