Año Nuevo State Park, 13 mi. s. on SR 1, is known for its colony of northern elephant seals, which come ashore to give birth, breed and molt. Guided 3-mile, 2.5-hour walks are conducted from mid-December through March, the best viewing months; tickets must be bought in advance (up to 56 days ahead) either online or by phone. Visitors can take a self-guiding hike to see the seals April through November; permits are required and are available at the entrance station or visitor center.
Layered clothing and sturdy shoes are recommended. Pets are not allowed.
Guided walk tickets $7 per person; free (ages 0-3).
$10 per private vehicle; $9 (ages 62+ per private vehicle).
Hours: Park open daily 8-dusk, year-round; the wildlife protection area has some seasonal restrictions. Guided walks depart daily every quarter-hour 8:45-2:45, mid-Dec. through Mar. 31. Walks take place regardless of weather conditions; no refunds are issued. Permits the rest of the year are available on a first-come, first-served basis daily 8:30-3:30, Apr.-Aug.; 8:30-3, Sept. 1 to mid-Dec. The seal viewing area closes at 5. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas.