Año Nuevo

  • Wildlife viewing
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Docent-led tours
  • Picnic


  • Visitor center
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Docent-led tours


1 New Years Creek Rd., Pescadero, CA, 94060
South Bay
Info: (650) 879-2025
Res: (800) 444-4445
Park: 8 am-sunset.
Not allowed, service animals OK
Inquire with the park if service dogs are allowed on the Equal Access Trail or within the natural preserve where the elephant seals visit.
Last Reviewed:
July 2019
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Año Nuevo is one of the few places in the world where you can see northern elephant seals and their pups during breeding and birthing season, mid-December to mid-March. Tens of thousands of people flock to here each year to see them; the giant males are quite a sight when they compete for females, rearing up and making threatening sounds. Elephant seals sleep a lot, sometimes piling up together by the hundreds, and they grunt a lot, too. As many as 1,500 have been born here in a single year. But even when the seals are away, the 4,000-acre reserve is worth a visit.

During breeding season, all visitors must make advance reservations to tour the seals’ beach area with a park docent. These tours are not wheelchair accessible, so for those with limited mobility, the “Equal Access Tour” is offered twice a day on weekends. After you check in for the tour at the Marine Education Center, a docent will pick you up in the parking lot in an accessible van and drive you to the Equal Access Trail––you can’t drive there in your own vehicle. The van can accommodate several ambulatory passengers and two wheelchairs. The nearly .25-mile boardwalk runs across dunes on the beach and affords up-close views of the mammoth animals. Because you must stay 25 feet from the seals, the boardwalk may be off-limits if any are dozing on or near it. Tours last two hours and are only offered during breeding season; however, arrangements can be made at other times.

The Marine Education Center (enter at the front; the rear entry has a very steep approach) is housed in a restored cow barn. There are exhibits about the dunes, tides, uplands, seals, and Ohlone Indians, as well as a live-feed video of the breeding grounds. The restored horse barn, behind the cow barn, serves as a classroom and theater where you can watch a film about elephant seals. It’s a good place to start your exploration of the park.

Trails and Pathways

Año Nuevo Point Trail
Trailhead Location:
West of the Marine Education Center or from the parking lot
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Typical Terrain:
Trail Overview:

Año Nuevo Point Trail offers 1.3 miles of accessible trail along the bluffs. Ocean views are often obscured but several viewing areas have great ocean views and you'll likely hear seals & elephant seals in the distance. A free hiking permit is required during molting season (April 1-August 31) and can be picked up at the Marine Education Center. From the center the trail leads gently downhill to a bridge, then climbs a gentle switchback before the remainder of the trail levels out. You wlll pass diverse terrain including coastal terrace prairie, wetland marshes, dune fields and coastal scrub and might see coyote brush, coffeeberry, and blackberry brambles. Several benches are along the route. At .75 mile you reach the Staging Area Exhibit Structure and can continue past it another third-mile before you reach dunes and need to turn back. The portion of the trail beyond the Staging Area is not open to general hiking during the Tour Season, December through March.


The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, firm, level or slope no greater than 2%

Accessible Restroom:
Yes – Restroom 1, At the parking lot

Beach Wheelchair:
Check with a ranger or call (650) 879-2025

Accessible Picnic Table:
Yes – firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance

Accessible Visitor Center:

Additional Information:
The ride out to the Equal Access Trail can be rough riding in the van depending on road conditions.

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