The Point Arena Stornetta Unit of the California Coast National Monument is an ideal place to view the sea rocks and islands that comprise one of California’s most magical treasures. Hike more than 1,600 acres of pristine coastline, view the scenic Point Arena Lighthouse, and play above the blowholes – all while keeping an eye peeled for the endangered Point Arena Mountain Beaver.

Just a three hour drive from San Francisco, Mendocino County’s South Coast, where the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands lie, has endless vistas of breathtaking natural beauty, a rich and diverse performing and fine arts community, is filled with early Californian and Native American history, and is home to the only land-based portion of the California Coastal National Monument. On Tuesday, March 11 2014 President Obama added Point Arena’s Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument, marking an exciting time in history for the northern California region.


The South Coast boasts the Gualala Arts Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961. The state-of-the-art center offers a year-round multitude of art exhibits, workshops and classes, classical and popular music performances, theater, lectures, a jazz festival, and much more. The community of Gualala is a haven for artists, art galleries, and independent bookstores, while Point Arena boasts the tallest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast, the annual Flower Power and Harbor & Seafood Festivals as well as a unique July 4 Parade. At the Point Arena Theater, residents and visitors alike can hear live music, watch the newest cinematic releases, and revel in telecasts from London’s National Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera. Although set apart by geography, Mendocino County’s South Coast is vitally connected to a vibrant cultural lifestyle.


The Point Arena-Stornetta Unit contains significant natural resources, including important wildlife habitat, riparian corridors, extensive wetlands, ponds and other water sources, cypress groves, meadows and sand dunes. The Garcia River with its estuary is prime Coho and Chinook salmon habitat. The land’s complex and fragile ecosystem is home to Great Blue Herons, Laysan Albatross, Peregrine Falcons, and Black Oyster Catchers, and to endangered species like the Point Arena mountain beaver and the Behren’s silverspot butterfly. With the addition of the lands to the California Coastal National Monument, new signage and trails will serve to educate the public about the importance of sustaining these species and their habitats, and to the continuing preservation of this special area. B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena is a 110-acre reserve for endangered African hoofstock. Owners Judy & Frank Mello have created an environment where endangered Rothschild Giraffes (only 700 left in the wild) roam with such other savanna species as the Kudu, Sable and Roan African Antelope, Hartmann’s Mountain and Grevy’s Zebra.


The proclamation signed by President Obama created the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as the ONLY land-based part of the California Coastal National Monument, which is comprised of over 20,000 islands, rocks, and reefs stretched along the 1,100-mile  California coastline. The Lands comprise over 1660 acres and include more than two miles of coastline, the estuary of the Garcia River and adjacent beach, and a small island only accessible at low tide. Historic Point Arena Lighthouse is just to the north, with Manchester State Park and its magnificent beach beyond. At low tide, Bowling Ball Beach reveals rows of rounded boulders sculpted by the tides and wind, lined up like the Terracotta Warriors. This beautiful piece of the California coastline is the perfect place for a leisurely hike and picnic with unrivalled seal and whale watching from the bluffs. Visitors will enjoy new signage and trails to better appreciate the outstanding natural beauty of this area.

The year 2015 will be the first full year that the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands are part of the California Coastal National Monument, one of the least visited monuments in the U.S. Although the monument spans 1,100 miles of coastline, few are able to visit its myriad islands, rocks and reefs. The addition of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands provides an essential gateway for visitors to experience one of the best ocean views in California.

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Tidal Action ©Bob Wick, BLM

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Surfing at Stornetta ©Bob Wick. BLM

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Point Arena Lighthouse ©Bob Wick, BLM

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Geology at Point Arena-Stornetta ©Bob Wick, BLM

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Looking to Point Arena ©Bob Wick, BLM