8AM - SUNSET
No overnight use
Tomales Bay State Park
COVID-19 Guidelines (February 16, 2022)
Protect yourself, family, friends and your community by following these prevention measures:
- Know Before You Go – Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick
- Plan Ahead – Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
- Play It Safe – Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
- Be COVID-19 Safe – State Parks continues to meet guidance from local and state public officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly. Effective March 1, 2022, state guidance recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccine status, continue masking in indoor settings, such as museums and visitor centers. Universal masking remains required in specified high-risk settings. Please plan ahead as local county guidelines may differ from state guidance and visitors are urged to follow county guidelines when required. Read the latest COVID-19 guidance at COVID19.ca.gov.
- Leave No Trace – Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.
- 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.
Tomales Bay State Park is popular! The park is experiencing extremely high visitation and our lots often fills up by mid-morning on weekends. We recommend carpooling while visiting, or visiting the park on weekdays, or on weekends, early or late in the day to minimize wait times. Have an alternate plan and destination in mind if parking is full at your time of arrival. When our Heart’s Desire lot is full, vehicles are slowly metered as other vehicles depart.
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.