Light at the End of the Road

Looking for the light at the end of the road? How about a light station?! Dramatically perched at…

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Looking for the light at the end of the road? How about a light station?! Dramatically perched at the tip of a headland and surrounded by 30 acres of open space, Point Cabrillo Light Station is legendary for more than its picturesque location with sweeping views of the Pacific.

The restored lighthouse, which began operation in 1909, is considered one of the most complete light stations in the United States. Its crowning glory is a 6,800-pound original Chance Brothers classic Fresnel lens that produces a flash every 10 seconds. Starting from the main parking area, it’s a half-mile walk down a paved road that opens to the vast coastal prairie and grassland. The light station sits straight ahead, backed by the ocean and flanked by multiple other structures, including two lightkeepers’ homes converted into charming rental cottages (all profits for the vacation rentals go to the nonprofit Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association, under contract with California State Parks).

The light station houses a gift shop, but it’s the outside trail system that’s the big draw. Spur paths take off in all directions along the bluffs to excellent vantages for spying gray whales. Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher have some California competition in the rugged, plunging cliffs of this coastline setting. Also on the grounds here, a museum of a 1930s lightkeeper’s house and a restored blacksmith and carpentry shop with a 240-gallon saltwater aquarium. Let there be light!

There is a parking area inside the gate off Point Cabrillo Dr., adjacent to the restored Kearn farmhouse. It’s a half mile downhill walk to the Light Station buildings. Parking for disabled persons is in front of and behind the 1st Assistant Lightkeeper’s House (the first residence) at the bottom of the hill. Dog-friendly! First photo by Anita Ritenour.

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