Monday, September 3, 2012

Point Arena Lighthouse

View Point Arena Lighthouse - September 2012 in a larger map

  • Point Arena lighthouse (115 feet)
  • View of Punchbowl, Manchester State Beach and Mendocino coastline from the top of the lighthouse
  • Coastal trails on Lighthouse Road (a little away from the lighthouse)

More Info
  • Free car parking in the lighthouse grounds
  • The tallest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast where one can climb to the top; Fee is $7.50/adult
  • Guided and self-guided tours available
  • Check out the lighthouse hours here 
  • Gift shop near the lighthouse

After spending the long Labor Day weekend in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, we decided to stop at Point Arena lighthouse while returning to the Bay Area. The lighthouse is located to the south of Mendocino and can be reached within an hour’s drive from Mendocino. Point Arena is the tallest lighthouse in California, where one can actually climb to the top! Although I wonder why Pigeon Point lighthouse, which is of same height as Point Arena is considered to be the tallest in California. The Pigeon Point lighthouse has been closed to the public since December 2001.

Unfortunately, the day was overcast when we started in the morning, but we still adhered to our plan to go to the lighthouse hoping the fog would clear up. The weather website claimed it to be a warm and sunny day and undoubtedly it was wrong, so wrong! 

The drive from Mendocino to Point Arena was amazing. The roads were not as coiling as I expected and the views of the ocean were unsurpassable. We specifically remember driving on the road that offered a fantastic view of the serene Navarro River from an elevation. We pulled over to capture a quick picture and we on our way to Point Arena.

View of Navarro River

Ideally, I think one can see the beautiful white lighthouse as soon as you take the Lighthouse Road, which splits from CA1. The foggy weather did not reveal the lighthouse, no matter how hard we tried to find the 115 feet tall structure. As we approached the lighthouse grounds, we saw the beautiful white lighthouse emerging from the fog.

Point Arena Lighthouse

We went inside the gift shop that sold souvenirs, sweaters, jewelry made of abalone, etc. And needless to say, they were pricey. We badly wanted to go up to the lighthouse, but knew it would be waste of money ($7.50/adult) and time given the bad weather. On a bright day, I can bet that the view from the top would blow one’s mind.

View from the coastal trail

We waited here for a while and there was still no luck with the fogs clearing up. While returning via the Lighthouse Road, there was a spot where several cars were parked on one corner and we noticed folks walking on the rocks along the coast. We followed suit and were so glad we did it. There was a plethora of grottos in the ocean and several places where one can walk on those grottos. Simply beautiful! We continued on the trail for a bit and noticed a farm at a distance where cows were grazing. This place is marked on the map in this blog post.

View of natural grottos

We would certainly love to return to Point Arena lighthouse on a clear day to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top.

  • Excellent vantage point to see whales migrating between December and March

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