California's Point Reyes National Seashore is wondrous to behold, but tough to describe. Here are a few statistics that help take the measure of the place.
Recreational visitors in 2009. Attendance peaked at nearly 2.6 million in 1992.
Marijuana plants (43,000 female and 35,000 male) removed from illegal plantations within the park during the first nine months of 2006.
Park acreage, nearly a quarter of which (17,184 acres) is water-covered.
Hours that volunteers have invested in recent years for removing nonnative plant species, monitoring wildlife, providing information to visitors, working at the Morgan Horse Ranch, protecting the resources, maintaining the trails, and performing other services in the park.
Acres of designated and proposed wilderness. The park's official tally of federally designated wilderness has stood at 25,370 acres since 1976. A Congressional mandate to designate additional wilderness acreage at Drakes Estero by 2012 has provoked heated debate because the proposed wilderness area is relatively small, exhibits significant human alteration, and has a commercial oyster farm.
Bird species in the park. That's nearly half of America's avian species! This incredibly diverse park also has 80 species of mammals, 85 species of fish, 29 species of reptiles and amphibians, and thousands of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate species.
Nonnative plant species found in the park. (These include not only a great variety of invasive grasses, flowers, and shrubs, but also trees such as cypress, eucalyptus, and Monterey Pine.) There are also at least 600 native plant species in the park, including more than 50 listed as rare, threatened, or endangered by the federal government, California state government, or California Native Plant Society.
Weight of the adult gray whales that can be seen from park overlooks. The whales travel close to shore here as they migrate between the northern waters where they feed and the Baja California lagoons where they spend the winter and birth their calves.
Private beef and dairy cattle operations that operate in the historic ranch area (the park's pastoral zone) under the terms of leases and related agreements with the National Park Service.
Displacement in 1906 of the opposite sides of a picket fence built across the San Andreas Fault. Slippage of the fault during the great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 moved the immense mass of the Point Reyes Peninsula at least that distance to the northwest. Visitors walking the park's popular Earthquake Trail see a replica of the original fence.
Endangered tule elk translocated to Point Reyes in 1978 from the San Luis Island Wildlife Refuge. There are now approximately 440 tule elk in the park. About 100 are in a free-roaming herd in the Limantour wilderness area and above Drakes Beach. The rest are in a large fenced area of Tomales Point at the northern end of the park.
Difference between the park's average summer temperature (51°F ) and average winter temperature (42°F). Throughout the year, the cold Aleutian Current flowing southward along the coast moderates the temperature of westerly winds from the Pacific. As a result, summers don't get very hot and winters don't get very cold.
Private vehicles allowed to park overnight at Point Reyes without special permission, backcountry campers and certain others excepted. There are no drive-in campgrounds, but the park does have four backcountry (walk-in) campgrounds and some special-use lodging units. The Superintendent's Compendium states that: "All parking areas in the park are closed to visitor vehicle parking from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. with the exception that visitors holding backcountry camping permits may park at established trailheads and visitors staying overnight at the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center, the Point Reyes Hostel, and the Lifeboat Station may park at those locations or at established trailhead parking lots. Any other overnight parking must be approved by the Chief Ranger."