Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has often been called “the crown jewel” of California’s 280 state parks. It continues to be a mecca for people interested in seeing beautiful vistas and magnificent animals, in nourishing their need for the kind of serenity that nature provides, and in pursuing their love of photography, painting, nature study, and poetry. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea.
What is a Reserve?
The special purpose of a reserve is to forever protect an area of unique natural beauty and ecological significance. Afforded a higher level of protection, visitors are expected to protect this landmark for future generations. Please stay on marked trails, do not remove or collect natural objects and avoid approaching or disturbing animals.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is located on the central coast of California. Its entrance is on iconic Highway 1 about 3 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, 125 miles south of San Francisco, and 325 miles north of Los Angeles. Monterey is the largest nearby city.
Location and Hours
Year-round, the Reserve opens at 8:00 a.m. Point Lobos currently closes at 7:00 p.m. with the last visitor entry at 6:30 p.m. All visitors, including those who walk in, must exit by the posted closing time.
Vehicles and Entrance Fees
•Passenger cars: $10.00
•Vehicle with a senior citizen: $9.00
•Vehicle with disabled discount card: $5.00
•Small coach or van: $50.00 (10 to 25 passengers)
•Large bus: $100.00
Vehicles over 20 feet may enter the Reserve when traffic is light, but not during weekends, school vacations, holidays, or during the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Trailers or motor homes towing vehicles are not allowed, and the number of buses per day is limited.
When the Reserve is Full
Point Lobos is very popular and often crowded during the summer months and on holiday weekends. Parking in the Reserve is currently limited to 75 vehicles. Please do not stop in the traffic lane of Highway 1. You may park on the shoulder of the highway and walk in. You are more likely to be able to drive in if you arrive early (before 9:30) or enter later in the day (after 3:00) when others have left.
Visitors with Disabilities
Visitors with disabilities can learn about facilities and services available to them on our Accessibility page. Point Lobos has several wheelchairs for loan to visitors – ask at the Entry Kiosk, the Information Station, or Whalers Cabin. If your questions are not answered on the Accessibility page, you may contact Point Lobos State Natural Reserve at 831-624-4909 (TTY relay service, 711). Please leave a message if your call goes to voicemail.
You may contact Point Lobos at 831-624-4909 (TTY relay service, 711) or E-mail us when you have inquiries. Please leave a message if your call goes to voicemail. The mailing address for Point Lobos Foundation is PO Box 221789, Carmel, CA 93922.
The special purpose of a reserve is to forever protect an area of unique natural beauty and ecological significance. Afforded a higher level of statewide protection and ideally maintained in an undisturbed condition, the behavior of visitors has a tremendous impact on the health of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
Rapidly increasing numbers of well-meaning but uninformed visitors are damaging precious natural resources found within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Please do your part to care for Point Lobos during your visit. Stay on marked trails, leave natural objects where you find them and do not disturb wildlife.
What to Bring
To make the most of your visit, consider the following tips:
- Layers of clothing are important any time of the year, but particularly during the summer when the fog rolls in and out and ocean breezes can be chilly.
- Good walking shoes to explore all the trails, some of which are uneven. Bicycles are allowed on paved roads only- not on trail.
- You can get much closer looks at sea otters, seals, whales, and birds with binoculars. Binoculars can be checked out from docents at the Information Station.
- Don’t forget a camera.
- If you’re planning a longer visit, bring snacks or a meal. There is no food available for purchase within Point Lobos. Picnicking is allowed at Piney Woods, at the Bird Island picnic area, and the Whalers Cove picnic area.
- Water fountains to refill your bottles are available at the picnic areas, at the Sea Lion parking area and near the entry kiosk. Bottled water is not available for purchase within Point Lobos.
What Not to Bring
The following items are not appropriate and/or not allowed when visiting the Reserve. Please respect these guidelines to protect Point Lobos and allow all visitors a wonderful trip.
- Game equipment such as baseballs, footballs, frisbees and kites. These items can harm wildlife and the natural features of Point Lobos.
- No drones. Drones are incompatible with the mission of a State Natural Reserve.
- Dogs are not allowed inside Point Lobos, even if they are left in your vehicle. Exception: service animals individually trained to perform tasks for persons who have qualifying disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Campfires, barbecues, and camping stoves are prohibited. Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the reserve.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve offers four ADA-compliant trails, mostly with spectacular views. A new accessible Lace Lichen Trail enables visitors to walk from the entrance to Sea Lion Point without walking on the road. Easy Access Adventures, offered twice monthly, are special events designed for visitors with limited mobility. Several wheelchairs are available for loan to visitors and can be requested at the Entry Kiosk, the Information Station, or the Whalers Cabin. Learn more about accessible facilities and services here or contact Point Lobos State Natural Reserve at 831-624-4909 (TTY relay service, 711).
There are no stores within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve that sell items like food or beverages. Water faucets can be found near many of the restrooms. Food and beverages may be brought in with you, but picnicking is only allowed in designated picnic areas.
Point Lobos delivers a Mediterranean climate and experiences moderate weather all year, with temperatures ranging from 57 – 65 degrees. Known as the secret season, fall’s sunny mornings and warm afternoons are cooled by ocean breezes in the evening, giving way to cool clear nights. Winter, though mild, offers an occasional shower. Spring provides cool, sunny weather before the summer fog rolls in. Summer mornings often deliver a foggy marine layer blanketing the coastline, which usually clears by the afternoon. Dressing in layers is recommended.
Welcome to Point Lobos: A general overview of Point Lobos animals, plants, and rules
Observation Checklist: A checklist of plants and animals that children can use for a “treasure hunt”
Whalers Cabin: A brief cultural history of Point Lobos
South Plateau Trail
Cypress Grove Trail
Tide Pools: All about life in the intertidal zones at Weston Beach
Scuba Diving: A brief overview of scuba diving at Point Lobos.
Sea Otter: Fascinating facts about this charismatic Point Lobos resident species
Whales: Useful information about the whales commonly spotted off Point Lobos
Plants of Point Lobos: Learn about the most common flora found in Point Lobos
The Rocks of Point Lobos State Reserve
Birds of Point Lobos: A photo guide to the birds you can see at Point Lobos
Don’t Feed the Animals