Explore California: Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park | Cal Parks

Explore California: Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park

Published: January 6, 2020

There is so much to see in our amazing state parks system, the possibilities are endless. Check out our latest Explore California feature, Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park!


Standing as one of the quintessential symbols of the Central California coast is a 115-foot tall lighthouse just south of the small community of Pescadero. Pigeon Point Lighthouse has long been a beloved road trip stop, photo opportunity, and even hostel, but what is the history behind this storied state park? In this edition of Explore California, we will take a look at the history of Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park and how California State Parks Foundation has helped preserve it.

Pigeon Point lighthouse was built in 1872 to assist ships with navigating the crushing tides in this region, which had claimed multiple victims prior to its construction. Namely, the Carrier Pigeon cargo vessel which was wrecked in 1853 while en route from Boston to San Francisco, giving way to the name Pigeon Point.

Pigeon Point lighthouse still remains a navigational landmark, but the original lens has been replaced by an electronic light outside the lens room and the lighting is completely automated. The public can view the original lens in the foghorn room, next to the tower. In 2001, the tower was closed to the public due to structural issues.


California State Parks Foundation Volunteers Help Improve Pigeon Point

In order to protect the public from the sheer cliff at the edge of the park property, in the 1980s a fence was installed around the perimeter of the bluff. By 2019, this fence had fallen into disrepair and no longer effectively served its purpose. California State Parks Foundation Volunteer Core Leader Bob Fox, and Pigeon Point Special Projects Coordinator Julie Barrow, set out to collect the necessary materials and funding to build a new fence. Wood was secured from Big Creek Lumber and other necessary materials were provided by Coastside State Parks Association.

In May 2019, a team of California State Parks Foundation volunteers and state parks staff began working on a new perimeter safety fence. Using Año Nuevo State Park as a staging area, the wood was painted and assembled over several monthly volunteer workdays. In August, the fence was transported to Pigeon Point where state parks staff dug the initial holes for the fence to be placed in. California State Parks Foundation volunteers then demolished specific pieces of the old fence slated to be replaced.

After the new fence was installed, the trail along it was widened by volunteers, and gravel (donated by Rice Soil Farm) was spread to avoid mud build-up. The end result was a brand-new white picket fence stretching along the bluff of the Pigeon Point property. “The difference was amazing,” said Bob Fox, who saw the project from conception to completion. He also adds that there is much more work to be done, since a length of the old fence still remains.

Only an hour from San Francisco, you can visit Pigeon Point any time of year and parking is free. Fancy a longer trip? You can book a stay in the hostel, complete with a hot tub. Take some time on your next trip down the coast to visit this beautiful California gem, or come to a California State Parks Foundation workday in 2020 to become a part of its story.