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aerial photograph of Ano Nuevo State Park

Scenic Año Nuevo State Park, known for its low, rocky, windswept point that extends out into the Pacific Ocean, is located just 55 miles south of San Francisco. Visitors enjoy exploring trails, learning more about the area’s history, picnicking, birdwatching, and viewing a variety of sea life.

Also known as Punta del Año Nuevo (New Year’s Point), this area contains a natural preserve which attracts many thousands of Northern Elephant Seals each year. These majestic seals come ashore between December and March to birth their young on the beaches and sand dunes.

Activities

While visiting the area don’t forget to include this serene California state park on your list of places to stop. Here you will discover an afternoon (or morning) full of fun activities for the entire family: nature trails, wildlife viewing, picnic areas, and the Marine Education Center.

The Marine Education Center, housed within an historic 19th century dairy ranch, features natural history exhibits, a bookstore, theater, and an outside picnic area with spectacular ocean views. Drinking water and restrooms with flush toilets are located near the parking area.

a view of the beach at Ano Nuevo State Park from a hiking trail

While no food or beverages are available inside the park, reusable water bottles are for sale in the gift shop. So pack a picnic lunch, put on some comfy, sturdy shoes and plan for an enjoyable day inside Ano Nuevo State Park.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Ano Nuevo State Park:

See the Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo State Park

The park boasts one of the largest mainland breeding areas for the northern Elephant Seal! And a visit to Ano Nuevo State Park isn’t complete without a glimpse at these majestic creatures. In order to see these beautiful sea animals guests must hike out to viewing areas located along the Año Point Trail.

While this walk may be long for some (3 to 4 miles roundtrip), the trail itself is relatively flat and easily accessible. Contact the park for more information.

two elephant seals on the beach at Ano Nuevo State Park

Hiking at Ano Nuevo State Park

Explore the miles of nature trails throughout Ano Nuevo State Park. These hiking-only trails offer spectacular views of native flora and fauna and a glimpse into an area rich with history and wildlife.

Here are a few of the trails at Ano Nuevo State Park:

  • Año Nuevo Point Trail – This easy 4.1 mile trail starts near the Marine Education Center and follows along a path out to Cove Beach and up through Monterey Pines to the Frijoles fault.
  • The Franklin Point Trail – An easy 0.7 mile trail past rocky bluffs, secluded beach areas, and the scenic coastline. Franklin Point is the rocky area where Sir John Franklin’s clipper ship crashed in 1865.
  • The Atkinson Bluff Trail – This easy 2.7 mile trail winds along coastal prairie and dunes and out to secluded beach areas and Smugglers Cove, a stretch of coast popular with rum runners during the 1920s.

sign for a hiking trail at Ano Nuevo State Park

Birding at Ano Nuevo State Park

Bird enthusiasts will enjoy a walk through the park and a chance to see an American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Black-bellied Plover, Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown Pelican, Cinnamon Teal, a Marsh Wren, and many other native and migratory birds.

Nature and Wildlife at Ano Nuevo State Park

Ano Nuevo State Park’s coastal dunes, rocky bluffs, secluded beaches, and wildflower prairie provide a picturesque backdrop to this serene park. Here you may see Elephant Seals, California Sea Lions, California gray whales, and sea otters, Black-tailed Deer, rabbits, snakes, bobcats, Mountain Lions, coyotes, foxes, weasels, and a variety of bird species.

Snakes seen within the park include rubber boas, garter snakes, western yellow-bellied racers, and the rare turquoise, red, and orange San Francisco garter snake.

Pets

Because of the Natural Preserve area only service animals are allowed inside Ano Nuevo State Park. Pets should not be left inside visitors parked vehicles. Please make other arrangements ahead of time before visiting.

historic barn at Ano Nuevo State Park

Camping

Ano Nuevo State Park offers day activities only. Visitors interested in spending a few nights in the area should check out nearby Butano State Park or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Each of these parks offers overnight accommodations plus a variety of daytime activities to supplement your stay.

Butano State Park, located at 1500 Cloverdale Road in Pescadero, has 39 campsites, each with a picnic table, food storage locker, and a fire ring. Primitive trail campsites are also available. All campsites are located within walking distance to restrooms. For more information and to make a reservation call (800) 444-7275 or visit www.parks.ca.gov.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park features 107 campsites nestled within the evergreens at 101 Big Trees Park Rd in Felton. This campground lies near the Santa Cruz Sandhills habitat and nature trails. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring and access to drinking water, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers.

Park Location

Ano Nuevo State Park
1 New Years Creek Rd
Pescadero, CA 94060
Phone: 650.879.2025

Park Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Ano Nuevo State Park: