Año Nuevo State Park

UPDATE (March 31, 2020): This park is temporarily closed to vehicular access. The park remains open for locals who wish to walk, hike and bike (in parks with bike trails) in the park, provided they practice social/physical distancing of 6 feet or more. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.

In an effort to prevent visitation surges and help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), State Parks has implemented the following safety measures to date:
  • Closed some parks, meaning all trails and restrooms within these parks are closed.
  • Closed vehicular access at remaining parks, including for off-highway vehicle riding.
  • Closed all campgrounds, museums and visitor centers.
  • Cancelled all events.

A list of closures is available online at parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve. The list is dynamic and updated on a regular basis.

Phone Number

(650) 879-2025

Park Hours

Day Use Area 8:30am to Sunset

Permits to view seals issued 8:30 to 3:30

Driving Directions to Año Nuevo SP

The park is about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz on Hwy 1.

Camping and Lodging

Año Nuevo State Park is a day use facilities

Reserve tickets online for Guided Seal Walks

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

TRAIL USE
Hiking Trails
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Vista Point
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Parking
Wheelchair Accessible

 

TEMPORARY FACILITY CLOSURES AND EVENT CANCELLATIONS 

DAY USE AREAS (trails, beaches): Open; Please bring cash in exact change to pay fees at self-registration stations. 

RESTROOMS: Open; Please bring soap for handwashing or hand sanitizer. 

PARKING LOTS: All parking lots in San Mateo County-area parks and specific parking lots in Santa Cruz County-area parks are temporarily closed. Click here for the latest updates.  

CAMPGROUNDS: Temporarily Closed

PARK STORES, VISITOR CENTERS & MUSEUMS: Temporarily Closed

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS & GUIDED TOURS: Temporarily Suspended

LARGE EVENTS: Temporarily Suspended

SPECIAL EVENT PERMIT APPLICATIONS: Temporarily Suspended

California State Parks is taking steps to support state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As of March 23, 2020, State Parks has temporarily closed vehicular traffic to certain parks experiencing high visitation. This includes all San Mateo County parks. To see a current list of impacted parks, visit www.parks.ca.gov/flattenthecurve. For those wishing to take a break in the outdoors, public health officials are advising them to walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods and walk to parks. Most importantly, the public is being asked not to congregate in the outdoors.

Campgrounds are temporarily closed as of March 17, 2020. Camping reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds. Visitor Centers, museums, and park stores are also temporarily closed.

Guided tours, educational programs, and large events are temporarily suspended as of March 14, 2020. Tour reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds. Special event applications have been suspended until further notice as of March 14, 2020.

As of March 17, 2020, non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to take soap for hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.

State Parks recommends that everyone follow precautionary guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, public local health agencies, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when recreating in the outdoors. Everyone has the responsibility to “flatten the COVID-19 curve at Parks” by maintaining a social distance of 6 ft. or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick. If visitors cannot maintain social distancing, they need to leave the park.

For the most up-to-date information on how State Parks is supporting the state’s COVID-19 efforts, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/flattenthecurve and follow State Parks on its social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Visiting Año Nuevo State Park

Año Nuevo State Park's rich variety of natural and cultural resources draws visitors from around the world. The park’s Natural Preserve offers an extraordinary wilderness experience, where every year up to 10,000 elephant seals return to breed, give birth, and molt their skin amongst the scenic dunes and beaches.

The park features the Marine Education Center boasting a natural history exhibit, bookstore, and theater. This complex is housed in the historic nineteenth century dairy ranch of the Dickerman/Steele family. These restored buildings recall the early American settlers, while the midden sites throughout the Natural Preserve tell us the story of the Quiroste Indians that lived peacefully here for thousands of years prior to the 1600s. Cove Beach is a short walk from here for beachgoers and surfers.

The physical terrain of Año Nuevo is distinctive, with coastal terrace prairie, wetland marshes, dune fields and coastal scrub hosting a high diversity of plants and animals, including the rare and endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-legged Frog.

Looking at Seals on the beach.

A hike out along ocean bluffs brings visitors to Año Nuevo Point, a major bird migratory route and fantastic birding location.  Located just offshore sits Año Nuevo Island and the remains of a 19th century lighthouse and fog signal station.  Built in 1872, the historic keeper's house now provides a new home to Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants as well as California Sea Lions. Otters and harbor seals are often sighted in the waters and magnificent Steller Sea Lions take up residence on the outlaying rocks.

Click here to learn about visiting the northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park.

Experience the Elephant Seals Year-Round

One of the largest mainland breeding colonies in the world for the northern elephant seal is at Año Nuevo State Park. A Natural Preserve has been established to protect the elephant seals along with many other animals such as otters, California sea lions, coyotes, cormorants, terns and more. Native plants and an untouched intertidal ecosystem also find shelter inside the Natural Preserve.  Elephant seals can be observed here year round either on a docent lead tour or through a self guided permit system within the Wildlife Viewing Area.

Important Park Information

The following rules and regulations are for your own safety and to protect the plants and animals that live in this park.

TO SEE THE ELEPHANT SEALS

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

December-March: You must be on a Guided Walk to see the seals.  Reservations are made through reservecalifornia.com

April - November: Visitor permits to see the seals inside the Natural Preserve are issued from  8:30 to 3:30. Visitors will not be able to obtain a permit after 3:30 due to the length of time it takes to hike to the viewing areas.

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE FROM SEALS
Elephant seals are dangerous wild animals and are protected by the park. Harassment and disturbance of elephant seals is prohibited by state and federal laws.  Seals can sometimes appear dead due to their quiet nature of sleeping on beaches. However, the majority of the time they are very much alive. Never get within 25 feet of an elephant seal.

NO PETS
Due to the nearby Natural Preserve, pets are not allowed in the park and cannot be left inside parked vehicles in the parking lot.

NO BIKES ON TRAILS
Bikes are prohibited on all trails in the park.

NO COLLECTING

Shells, rocks, wood, plants or animals. All features of this park are preserved and protected by law.

NO SMOKING OR FIRES
Smoking is not permitted in buildings or on guided walks. Fires of all types are prohibited.

NO DRONES
Drone use is prohibited within Año Nuevo State Park.