How to See the Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo State Park
Why You Should Visit Ano Nuevo State Park
What You Need to Know to Visit Ano Nuevo State Park
Location: Ano Nuevo State Reserve, Highway 1 at New Years Creek Road (20 miles north of Santa Cruz) Pescadero, CA 94060
Phone #: (650) 879-2025
Time: first tour is at 8:45 or 9:00 and last one starts at 2:30 or 2:45 pm.
Duration: 2.5 hours
The BEST time to go: The best time is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s not so hot. Then the seals are more active. It’s better to go at the end of January when they
Cost: $11 for the guided seal walk (nonrefundable and unchangeable), $10 for parking. The tours are from December 15 to March 31. During the other times of the year, you can go without a tour, but there aren’t many elephant seals.
How to buy tickets: Reserve online for the guided seal walk at this address:
Purchasing tickets on their site is not intuitive, so here’s what you need to do:
How to Purchase Tickets
- City or Park: Ano Nuevo SP
- Choose Activity: Other Tours/Activities
- Click “Go”
- Search Text: (leave blank)
- Category: Guided Seal Walks
- Place: Ano Nuevo SP
- Choose Date: (enter the date that you want to go)
- Click “Show Availability”
- Click “Show # session available”
- Click “Sign up” for the time of your tour
- Create an account
**Another way to buy tickets for the popular weekend walks is to stay at the Pigeon Point Hostel 10 minutes from Ano Nuevo. They can get you last minute tickets for Saturday and Sunday. Call them for more information ((650) 879-0633) or visit their website: http://www.norcalhostels.org/pigeon
The BEST time to go: The best time is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s not so hot. Then the seals are more active. It’s better to go at the end of January when they are giving birth or at the end of February and March when the males are fighting each other for the right to rule a haram. That’s right! There is no #MeToo movement in elephant seal land.
What to wear: Bring really good walking shoes or hiking boots. It’s a long walk and you’ve got to walk over sand. Wears layers. I wore a light windbreaker, a fleece, a sweatshirt, and a t-shirt and I was not too hot and not too cold, but I wish I had brought a scarf.
What to See and Do on Your Visit at Ano Nuevo State Park
When I got to the Ano Nuevo State Park, I paid $10 for parking at the Visitor’s Center. Make sure to ask for a map.
In the Horse Barn Theater, the white building next to the Marine Education Center, there was a film about the elephant seals. The film was excellent. I highly, highly recommend it if you have time. It’s about 20 to 30 minutes long. There was a really bloody, long, drawn-out scene of two seals fighting until one of them succumbed. It gave me some idea of how violent these seals could be.
It was a fascinating tour. I know there are some other places in California to view the elephant seals that don’t charge a fee. But I think having a docent with us and telling us all about elephant seals was more than worth the $11. Also, you get to see the seals at closer range here. In other places, you usually can only see them from up on top of a cliff.
I’d pay to go back at the end of February or March to watch the male seals fight.
Have you been to Ano Nuevo before? Did you see the male seals fight? Leave comments below.
The information you provided was very helpful. I was especially looking for the best time of day to visit and based on your post, I’m going to plan a similar day and take the last tour but get there early for the movie, etc.