At first glance, Pescadero seemed like the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend. We were completely content with our lovely choice in accommodations (which I detailed in Part 1 of this series), Mom's chicken cacciatore, a nice little stash of wine and a good book.However, we had heard about a spot along the coast where we could potentially see elephant seal pups in March and April. That's right: baby elephant seals. So instead of spending every minute staring out at the beautiful view, we decided to explore a bit. As I mentioned in Wednesday's post (Part 2 in the series), we checked out Half Moon Bay and Pigeon Point Lighthouse on our first full day there. On the day we had to leave our new favorite beach house, we decided to head south to Año Nuevo State Park and find ourselves some wildlife.

Año Nuevo State Park is located south of of Pigeon Point Lighthouse on Highway 1 and is a major gathering spot for northern elephant seals. In short, the reserve is where the business happens. 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 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.

You can see here how they covered the beach:


This seal had just lifted up her head, stretched and then looked right at us:


{Shameless plug: I've entered the photo above, along with several others, into The Great Outdoors Photography Competition. I'd love your votes in the People's Choice category, if you have a minute. You can vote here. Thanks, friends!}

One of the rangers on duty was kind enough to take a picture of us with our new friends:


We couldn'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. Apparently 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 won't be viewing elephant seals from you car.

Luckily, the sights along the way are pretty spectacular:


To learn more about the elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park and the best time of year to visit, click here.

Has anyone else checked out this reserve before? What time of year did you go? It would really great to visit when those funky-looking male elephant seals make an appearance, so I'll definitely be back.


Happy Friday, all!

Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Click here. You can read Part 2 here.

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