Turns out there is plenty to do in January in Point Reyes. On a nice, sunny day, the beaches and hikes are as pleasant as ever. Just bring another layer and get started a little earlier. Once the sun goes down early, it can get chilly.
But January also brings unique opportunities for those of us who want to see wildlife.
* Whale Watching from the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock. This is a popular enough event that the Park Service closes the road to the lighthouse point and runs buses from the Drakes Beach Visitors Center ($5 per person). While I have not ever caught site of a whale on these trips, I still enjoy the trip out to the point. The Park Service has a good page on whale watching from the point.
* Breeding Elephant Seals. I like to head out to Chimney Rock to watch the wales, because it is also possible that the elephant seals are on the beach hanging out and breeding. This year, they are out en masse! They are fun to watch as they lie and shift around in the sun. From the Chimney Rock parking lot, look for signs that direct you on a short trail heading south.
* Salmon Run. From mid-Dec to mid-January (over for 2008), SPAWN lead groups from the town of Lagunitas to find salmon that swam upstream and lay their eggs. The whole process is fascinating and newbies should take the tour as it can be difficult to find the salmon without an experienced eye. You can find out more at the SPAWN web site.
Photo taken by flauto