Año Nuevo State Park

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Año Nuevo State Park


  • Año Nuevo State Park.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • The view from the visitor center.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • The Marine Education Center in the old dairy barn.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • The Steele Dairy is now the park headquarters.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • Many exhibits on elephant seals and other marine life.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • Elephant seal exhibits in the Marine Education Center.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • - Año Nuevo State Park
  • The historic Steele settlement buildings.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • Año Nuevo Island.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • A view down the coast from the park.- Año Nuevo State Park
  • Año Nuevo offers marvelous hiking along the coastal bluffs.- Año Nuevo State Park
Overview + Weather
Great hiking and beaches. Elephant seals in season.
No dogs allowed anywhere in the park.
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The history of Año Nuevo State Park is the history of California. Home to the Quiroste Ohlone people for thousands of years, Año Nuevo Point was first seen by a European, Sebastian Vizcaino, in 1603. It would be another 166 years before Gaspar de Portola passed this way on foot on his way to discovering San Francisco Bay for Spain. The Spanish missions and the rancho era passed another 90 years until the Steele family purchased the land and built a dairy that would occupy the area until the state started acquiring land here in the 1950s.

The Marine Education Center is the place to begin exploring the park. Housed in the dairy barn built by the Steeles and surrounded by the house and outbuildings of the dairy, the center has exhibits about the park’s ecology and geology, and it features information about the elephant seal colony on Año Nuevo Point. The park is quite large and boasts miles of hiking trails (both coastal and upland forests), miles of pristine beaches, and the Quiroste Valley Cultural Preserve that holds many historic traces of the original people.

Hiking Trails

  • Año Nuevo Point Trail: A 3.5-mile out-and-back hike, some of which is restricted to ranger-guided walks from December through March.
  • Atkinson Bluff Trail: A 3-mile bluff-top hike that can be accessed from four Highway 1 parking areas and on which several loops or out-and-back routes can be created.
  • Whitehouse Ridge Trail: An upland trail that offers great Pacific Ocean vistas and deep forests.


  • Cascade Creek Beach: An easy half-mile hike to a seldom-visited cove.
  • Cove Beach: This beach stretches a mile to the west from the Marine Education Center and can be walked from one end to the other at low tide.
  • Bight Beach: Home to the densest concentration of elephant seals, this beach can be visited year-round, but only on a guided walk from December through March.
  • Whitehouse Creek Beach: A tiny rocky beach off of Atkinson Bluff.
  • Gazos Creek Beach: Located at the northern tip of the park and easily accessible from Highway 1.
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Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(96 within a 30 mile radius)

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