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Thursday, December 13, 2012

California Coast Road Trip - November 2012 - Marin Headlands and Point Bonita Lighthouse

One of the things that we really wanted to see while in the San Francisco area was the Point Bonita Lighthouse, which is located on the Marin Headlands just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Heather and I were there several years ago, and we've wanted to go back ever since. It was closed to visits for a while, and only recently reopened. We headed out there first thing Saturday morning, taking advantage of the great weather.

Point Bonita Lighthouse is almost to the end of the point towards the top of this picture. The shot after this is a close-up crop.

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is only open to visitors for a short time each week. In order to get to it you have to walk from the nearest parking area about 1/4 mile down a trail that ends at a steel door blocking the entrance to a hand-hewn tunnel in the rock wall. The door is only open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, from 12:30pm to 3:30pm.

The other end of the tunnel leads to another pathway along the rocks, and eventually to a bridge that leads out to the lighthouse. Construction of the current lighthouse was completed in 1877. The US Coastguard still operates the lighthouse today, and visits are administered by the National Park Service.

The first time that Heather and I were here the bridge was looking pretty old. I don't know if it was the original one, built in the 1870's, but however old it was it had deteriorated quite a bit, and had a sign limiting capacity to no more than 5 people at a time. A ranger that I spoke with on Saturday told me that before they finally had to close the bridge to visitors a couple of years ago that capacity had dropped down to just 2 people. The new bridge was completed earlier this year, and now one of the most spectacular lighthouses on the California coast is again open to visitors.

To get to the parking area for the lighthouse we drove out Conzelman Road from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. The narrow winding road offers some great views of both San Francisco and the Marin Headlands, and also passes by the remains of a number of old military installations.

Here's the view from the high point on the road, looking down towards Point Bonita, with the lighthouse almost to the end of the point at the top right portion of the picture. (Sorry about the mirror in the way, I was driving down the hill when I snapped this shot, so I wasn't exactly looking through the viewfinder.)

The Marin Headlands Visitor Center for the Golden Gate National Recreational Area is housed in the old chapel at what was once Fort Barry.

To get from the Visitor Center back to the highway you through a one-lane tunnel on Bunker Road. Traffic direction is controlled by signal lights at either end. This time I managed to keep the rearview mirror out of the shot, although I still wasn't looking at or through a viewfinder.

On way up to Muir Woods and Point Reyes on Monday morning we made another brief stop in the area to check out the view from Battery Spencer. This is the location where many of the iconic shots of the Golden Gate Bridge are taken from. Not on Monday though, at least not while we were there. If you use your imagination you can kind of tell that you would see the City in the background through the cables of the bridge. Or not. Either way, it was great to see.

Click here to see more images from the Marin Headlands and Point Bonita Lighthouse, taken during our November 2012 California Coast Road Trip.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent photos of your NorCal trip Frank. I especially like the interior tunnel "action shot." Time to dust off and charge up your GoPro for sure!!


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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.