How to do a Weekend Trip: Camping in Salt Point State Park and Point Reyes
Camping in Salt Point State Park and Point Reyes is a wonderful Northern California weekend getaway. This past Father’s Day weekend, myself and 3 others headed north of the Bay Area for a 48 hour camping trip around both areas. I’ve been working non-stop and juggling various jobs over the past month so a nature-filled weekend spent along the coast was exactly “what the doctor ordered”. I was actually ecstatic to finally have a screen-free couple of days. I put my phone on airplane mode and exclusively used it for photos. I never had to charge it once! We visited a historic lighthouse, sunk our toes in sand at 2 beaches, traversed 2 hiking trails, and consumed local seafood.
I can also offer some insight regarding Point Reyes and Salt Point’s dog-friendly policies, as my cousin and her boyfriend brought along their adorable 18 week old pup! Unfortunately neither area is very dog-friendly, but I’ve noted the dog-friendly spots below.
What we saw and did along the way…
Olema Campground (Dog-Friendly): If you’ve come late to the campground reservation game like we did, Olema is a wonderful last minute choice. It’s located right off Point Reyes National Seashore and offers lots of open space, clean bathrooms (with liquid soap!), and even a laundromat. I was very skeptical after reading some terribly negative reviews on Yelp, but Olema really fit the bill. It definitely isn’t a standard campground, as all campsites are wide in the open with little tree coverage. It also costs a bit more than most too at $55/night. However, as noted – it is a solid last minute choice for a campground in the area.
Town of Point Reyes Station, CA: We stopped in this quaint town’s downtown area to grab lunch. Unfortunately, the majority of restaurants hadn’t opened at 10:30am yet so we opted for breakfast sandwiches at the Palace Market, which were surprisingly affordable and delicious. They offer ham or bacon on a bagel or English muffin. Luckily for us (given our furry companion situation), there is an outdoor seating area right across the street perfect for a quick to-go meal. I definitely recommend checking this area out.
Point Reyes Lighthouse (Not Dog-Friendly): While this was a 40 minute drive from Olema, I am so glad we stopped by. Point Reyes Lighthouse sits on a point that juts out into the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean waters. There is about a 30 minute hike/walk to the actual lighthouse from the parking lot, which includes stairs equating to hiking “30 floors” (or so the sign says). We didn’t find this hike bad at all. I will warn you of the extreme wind though, in which we found out that this is the windiest point on the entire Pacific coast! The point also includes a gift shop and educational exhibit on the history and wildlife of the area.
Kehoe Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore (Dog-Friendly): An easy 20 minute walk/hike from the Kehoe Beach trailhead takes you to an expansive and pup-filled beach. Similar to the lighthouse, this beach is also quite windy so I wouldn’t recommend wearing your bikini here. Great location to have a picnic though.
Pygmy Forest in Salt Point State Park (Not Dog-Friendly): Our campground at Salt Point is right next to the unique Pygmy Forest, which features stunted, mini pine and cypress trees. We took the lovely recommended Huckleberry trail to the forest, and it just took us about 1 hour 10 minutes roundtrip. We hiked very briskly though since we had to get back to the car for the dog. Don’t worry – the sun had already started to set and we parked in the shade while Casper waved patiently in the car.
Woodside Campground at Salt Point State Park (Dog-Friendly): Woodside is your standard campground – grass-filled lots surrounded by trees and equipped with a picnic table and fire pit. We were glad we found a decent-sized one at 8pm since a lot of the campsites we surveyed were very small. We played drinking games until about midnight and there were no noise complaints. $35/night on reserveamerica.com.
Russian Gulch Beach (Dog-Friendly): Thanks to the park host at Fort Ross State Park, we found out that this small, but picturesque beach allows dogs. She told us when we found out that Fort Ross isn’t unfortunately dog-friendly. There is about a 10 minute walk to the beach and I prefer it to Kehoe for its lack of wind.
Lunch in Bodega Bay: This small seaside town was absolutely jam packed on Sunday afternoon, which reminded me of the beachside traffic in Orange County. I found out that it was likely due to the gorgeous weather, which is rare for the usually foggy town. We grabbed a late lunch at The Birds Cafe (named after the well known Hitchcock movie filmed there), which has a large and inviting outdoor patio (dog-friendly). The fish and chips were tasty, but quite oily. I wish I had tried their Hog Island oysters and grabbed a beer.
Questions about Point Reyes or Salt Point State Park? Are there any activities or spots in these areas you’d like to suggest? Let me know!