Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring in West Marin

The first day of Spring is Saturday, which means it's time to visit West Marin. The western part of Marin County is completely different from the more populated eastern side. West Marin is home to beautiful beaches, rugged coastline, dairy farms, and numerous hiking trails. Spring is a great time to visit as you are likely to avoid the winter rains and summer fog. Summer days in West Marin are often as cold as Winter days.

Spring marks the annual migration of the California gray whales from their winter home off Baja California to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska. The whales' migration is the longest of any mammal. On the northward journey, the whales travel with their babies closer to shore to avoid sharks. Their are many spots along the coast to look for sharks, but Point Reyes is among the best. If you visit on a weekend day or a holiday before mid-April, you will need to take a shuttle bus to the point. You can watch for whales from the deck above the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse or walk down the 300 steps to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. daily, except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Keep in mind that whale watching requires patience. I've been many times and failed to see whales more times than I have seen them. First, look for the whale's spout. Then, if the animal is close enough to shore, you might be able to see it.

Chimney Rock is at the southern end of the point and is another spot to watch for whales. This is also a great area to see wildflowers. Take a walk on the bluffs overlooking Drake's Bay and the Pacific and you are likely to be see California poppies, Indian paintbrush, Douglas' iris, mission bells, and other beautiful blowers.

South of Point Reyes, near the Bolinas Lagoon is the Audubon Canyon Ranch. At its Bolinas Lagoon Preserve, you can see nesting Great Blue Heron and Great White and Snowy Egrets. The reserve is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays through the second weekend in July. You can also make an appointment to visit on Tuesday through Friday.

West Marin is a great part of the Bay Area to visit during any season, but Spring is special. If you would like to take a private tour of West Marin that includes Point Reyes and/or the Audubon Canyon Ranch, call Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 327-4237 or e-mail Blue Heron by clicking here.

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