If you’ve enjoyed watching the sea lions flop around on Pier 39 in San Francisco, than you’re going to love the elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park.
Located off Highway 1 in Pescadero, about 30 miles south of Half Moon Bay, the park is home to a colony of elephant seals ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 pounds at full size. In early spring only, park staff offers tourists a rare glimpse of the seals as they rest on the shores.
Guests can’t see the elephant seals without a reserved tour. With the help of a docent, visitors can see the “harems,” or groups of pregnant elephant seals, lying on the beaches with the alpha males protecting them. The males are easy to identify by their long, swinging, elephant-like noses.
Outside of birthing season, elephant seals spend most of their time making deep sea dives, which makes them useful for oceanic monitoring when they’re outfitted with GPS devices. Tours are held every day until March 31.
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Difficulty: Moderate, due to some trekking up sandy dunes
Cost: $7 per person
To book: Contact Reserve America at 1-800-444-4445