A guest post BY JENNIFER SNYDER
Jennifer is a writer and travel enthusiast based in the Sacramento area of Northern California. She has recently given in to the insatiable urge to wander and loves to share photos and experiences over on her blog, People + Places + Things.
When my mom and I decided to treat ourselves to a beach getaway weekend in April of this year, we knew we would be spending much of our time relaxing at a beautiful vacation rental, eating delicious food and exploring the area around Pescadero, California.
We had heard about Año Nuevo State Park, which offers stunning coastal views and the opportunity to see elephant seal pups in March and April. Naturally, we decided to go for it.
The park is located south of the town of Pescadero on Highway 1 and is a major gathering spot for northern elephant seals. Over a span of several months, female seals give birth, males fight for dominance, mating takes place and pups are nursed, weaned and begin molting.
We showed up in mid-April after many of the adult seals had gone, leaving hundreds of sleepy, molting pups behind. They were adorable.
In all honesty, they didn’t do a whole lot. There was quite a bit of snoring, snorting and grunting happening. Other than that, they just seemed to be resting. We were fascinated, though. Seeing creatures like this up close was pretty amazing.
The seals completely covered the beach. This seal had just lifted up her head, stretched and then looked right at us:
We didn’t get too close to the seals, even though they were everywhere: on the path, in the dunes and right in the middle of the viewing area. Visitors are advised to stay at least 25 feet away at all times. If these cuties get angry enough, they can move pretty fast and know how to throw their weight around. So, my camera’s zoom feature got a nice little work out.
To get to the multiple viewing areas in the park, visitors follow a well-worn trail for about a mile and a half (3 miles round-trip). There is also a section where you’re walking on sand dunes, so be prepared for that. You definitely won’t be viewing elephant seals from your car.
Luckily, the sights along the way are pretty spectacular:
The trip to Año Neuvo State Park was incredible and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors. To learn more about the elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park and the best times of year to visit, click here.
Jennifer has also authored an app titled Northern California for Nature Lovers, which can be downloaded from the App Store here.