Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Beaches

  • 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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Great hiking and beaches. Elephant seals in season.

Cons

No dogs allowed anywhere in the park.

Features

ADA accessible
Flushing toilets
Lighthouse
Potable water
Picnic tables
Surfing
Bird watching
Wildlife
Whale watching
Wildlife

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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