Año Nuevo Visitor Center hours
Guided Walk season (Dec. 15-Mar. 31):
Park Store hours:
Park Store hours:
Año Nuevo State Park
Año Nuevo State Park contains within its boundaries separate natural and cultural preserves. Año Nuevo State Natural Preserve is on the coastal side of State Highway 1, and Año Nuevo Cultural Preserve is on the eastern side of Highway 1.
Año Nuevo Natural Preserve is the site of a major mainland breeding colony of the northern elephant seal, which was once hunted to near-extinction. Elephant seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals come ashore to rest, mate, and give birth on the sand dunes, beaches, and Año Nuevo Island. Guided docent tours during the elephant seal breeding season (December 15 – March 31) enable visitors to observe massive alpha bulls fight for dominance on the beach and attract harems of pregnant females, who give birth and nurse their pups over a one-month period, before returning to the ocean.
At other times of the year, elephant seals can be observed molting and resting on the beaches. An extensive volunteer program provides docents year round to assist park visitors in the elephant seal viewing area.
To discover what elephant seal activity can be expected at any time of the year, click this link: Annual Cycle of Elephant Seal Activity at Año Nuevo
The Marine Education Center, completed in 2008, provides excellent exhibits on the plants, animals, geology, and history of the area.
Año Nuevo Cultural Preserve provides protection for the Quiroste Valley at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The valley contains the remains of a village, known as Casa Grande, which was once home to the Native American Quiroste people. It is believed to have been one of the largest and oldest Ohlone Indian villages along this coastline. Click here for more information about this area of the park.
The area of the park east of Highway 1 is not yet officially open but is available for use by hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians on existing regional access roads, trails, and former logging roads. The eastern part of the park includes a wooded and rugged upland area, sloping down to a marine terrace adjacent to the coast. Several creeks wind their way across the park on their way to the ocean.
CSPA sponsors the Elephant Seal Docent Program and the Visitor Center Bookstore at Año Nuevo State Park. In addition, CSPA purchased an equal access van and assisted in funding the Marine Education Center.