You may have heard of their famous oysters, but Tomales Bay also has a unique state park that features fantastic views, recreational opportunities, and a rich history. Join us in exploring this Marin County gem, Tomales Bay State Park.
The original inhabitants of the land which now comprises Tomales Bay were the Coast Miwok, who lived for thousands of years in a developed economy based on hunting, farming, and trade. The Coast Miwok utilized the land, gathering many of the crabs, oysters, and mussels the region is still known for today. Outsiders first arrived in the 1500s and the Coast Miwok were gradually pushed away from their territory throughout the Spanish colonization and the westward expansion of the United States, and by 1958 the federal government had ceased recognition of the tribes’ claim over the land. In the 1800s, the region became a hub for dairy farming for pioneers, and many of the farms still exist today. The economy grew rapidly and several small towns emerged, including Tomales, Valley Ford, Inverness, and Bodega. As California developed, the region became popular for tourism because of its proximity to San Francisco and its relative ruralness.
The recreational opportunities that drew people in the early days still draw thousands of visitors yearly. Because of the unique shape of the bay, there is typically little to no surf, making it a safe spot for children to enjoy the water. This also makes kayaking and sailing enjoyable, as the long bay provides protection from the strongest winds.
For wildlife lovers, opportunities abound. Pelicans, woodpeckers, ducks, herons, and jays make up just a few of the hundreds of bird species that have been observed in the bay. During the whale migration season, it is not uncommon for whales to venture into the bay to take advantage of the protection. In the mudflats, you can often see small crabs scuttle along the beach, trying to avoid detection by the birds.
Tomales Bay State Park is spread over two different parts of Tomales Bay. The largest part is on the peninsula, just north of Inverness. This area comprises the more protected beaches and kayak launch opportunities. The other side, known as Millerton Point, is just northeast of Point Reyes Station and contains a network of walking trails suitable for all levels.
Check out our video installment of Explore California: Tomales Bay State Park and learn from park ranger Nick Turner and longtime resident and business owner Jill Giacomini Basch on why you should make Tomales Bay State Park your next day trip.