Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
The reserve’s stated mission is to forever protect the area’s ecological significance and natural beauty. Visitors are welcome to explore the area on marked trails, and there are a range of guided walks or suggested hiking routes designed with difficulty level and time constraints in mind. Tours of the reserve and selected hikes are often incorporated into larger group and private tours, some multi-day, of the region.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is ideal for nature lovers and first-time visitors to the Central Coast.
There is a fee for cars to enter the reserve.
Picnics are permitted but bring food and water, as they are not available for purchase in the reserve.
Bring layers of clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
No pets (including service dogs) are allowed in the park, as it is a nesting site for the endangered western snowy plover.
The reserve is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, and has a limited number of wheelchairs available for loan.
How to Get There
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is located 3 miles (5 kilometers) south of Carmel-by-the-Sea and about 125 miles (201 kilometers) south of San Francisco on Highway 1. Parking is limited to 150 vehicles and once the lot is full, it operates on a one-in, one-out basis.
When to Get There
The reserve is open from 8am to around dusk daily year-round. Summer months and weekends can be very busy; arrive before 9:30am or after 3pm to avoid the crowds. Gray whale migration takes place between December and April.
Junior Ranger Program
The Point Lobos Reserve offers a junior ranger program for visiting families. Suited to children aged 7 to 12, the series incorporates history, geology, ecology, plant identification, and wildlife observation into an activity-based program through hikes, games, and an activity logbook. The reserve also offers a Summer Adventure kids summer camp program. Check the website for details.