Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Sometimes called Point Cabrillo Light or Point Cabrillo Light Station, this quaint, historic lighthouse has guided ships along mendocino’s magical coast for more than a century. Here, you can feel the ocean’s power, watch for gray whales, and walk your dog along the wind-swept bluffs. Lighthouse lovers will relish the chance to spend the night in either the Lightkeeper’s House or a pair of small cottages, both of which are available to rent.

ABOVE: They spotted a whale! Just a typical afternoon on the Mendocino Coast at Point Cabrillo Lighthouse near Caspar. In addition to the light station, which was built in 1909, there are nearly 300 acres of spectacular bluff land to explore. The coastal views and easy access make it a great spot to look for gray whales during their migration up and down the Pacific coast. Just watch out for ticks… they’re everywhere!

ABOVE: What you see here is a battle between land and water. The relentless surf pounds the steep coastline, ripping away bits and pieces of earth and rock. It is a beautiful reminder of the violence — but also the balance — that defines nature.

ABOVE: After you see Point Cabrillo Lighthouse up close, take a short hike down the bluffs to take a peek from afar. What you’ll see, frozen in time, is the land sliding into the sea. And if the waves are really churning, the explosions of surf against the rocks can be spectacular (and dangerous, so keep your distance). 

ABOVE: A couple of locals scan the horizon for gray whales. Their telltale waterspouts glow orange if you’re lucky enough to spot one just before the sun sets.

ABOVE: Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is open to all every day, from sunrise to sunset. If you’d like to spend the night on this heavenly slice of California coastline, you can rent the lightkeeper’s house or a pair of cozy cottages on the property.

ABOVE: Point Cabrillo Lighthouse is powered by a rare fresnel lens. The lens was taken out of comission in 1972 in favor of a more modern beacon, but returned to service in 1999. Volunteer lightkeepers maintain the lens, carefully recording their work and contributing their learnings to posterity in an effort to help others all over the world save and maintain fresnel lenses before they disappear entirely. That’s pretty cool!

They spotted a whale! Just a typical afternoon on the Mendocino Coast at Point Cabrillo Lighthouse near Caspar. In addition to the light station, which was built in 1909, there are nearly 300 acres of spectacular bluff land to explore. The coastal views and easy access make it a great spot to look for gray whales during their migration up and down the Pacific coast. Just watch out for ticks… they’re everywhere!

What you see here is a battle between land and water. The relentless surf pounds the steep coastline, ripping away bits and pieces of earth and rock. It is a beautiful reminder of the violence — but also the balance — that defines nature.

After you see Point Cabrillo Lighthouse up close, take a short hike down the bluffs to take a peek from afar. What you’ll see, frozen in time, is the land sliding into the sea. And if the waves are really churning, the explosions of surf against the rocks can be spectacular (and dangerous, so keep your distance).

A couple of locals scan the horizon for gray whales. Their telltale waterspouts glow orange if you’re lucky enough to spot one just before the sun sets.

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is open to all every day, from sunrise to sunset. If you’d like to spend the night on this heavenly slice of California coastline, you can rent the lightkeeper’s house or a pair of cozy cottages on the property.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse is powered by a rare fresnel lens. The lens was taken out of comission in 1972 in favor of a more modern beacon, but returned to service in 1999. Volunteer lightkeepers maintain the lens, carefully recording their work and contributing their learnings to posterity in an effort to help others all over the world save and maintain fresnel lenses before they disappear entirely. That’s pretty cool!

Know
Before
You Go

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse tends to be a popular spot for both members of the community and tourists visiting the Mendocino Coast. Be respectful of others by understanding and following the rules.

  • Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • The museums, marine exhibit, and gift shop are open from 11am until 4 pm daily, including holidays.
  • The surrounding trails and the first floor of the light house itself, which houses the gift shop, are pet friendly.
  • The ocean here is intense. Keep well back from the edges of bluffs, otherwise you’ll be susceptible to sneaker waves and sudden erosion.
  • The best time of year to see gray whales migrating up and down the coast is November through May.
  • Fancy an overnight stay? There are two houses and two cottages available for rent.

Know
Before
You Go

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse tends to be a popular spot for both members of the community and tourists visiting the Mendocino Coast. Be respectful of others by understanding and following the rules.

  • Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • The museums, marine exhibit, and gift shop are open from 11am until 4 pm daily, including holidays.
  • The surrounding trails and the first floor of the light house itself, which houses the gift shop, are pet friendly.
  • The ocean here is intense. Keep well back from the edges of bluffs, otherwise you’ll be susceptible to sneaker waves and sudden erosion.
  • The best time of year to see gray whales migrating up and down the coast is November through May.
  • Fancy an overnight stay? There are two houses and two cottages available for rent.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Directions to Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Access to the Mendocino coastline from historic Route 1 is exceptional. You’ll find one turn off after another leading to parks, beaches and secluded coves. Get to Point Cabrillo Lighthouse by turning onto Point Cabrillo Drive just south of Caspar. The road will swing down beside Caspar Beach before winding back up the bluffs. The parking area for the light station will be a little farther south — maybe half a mile — on the right. Alternatively, you can turn onto Brest Road near Russian Gulch State Park, then turn right onto Point Cabrillo Drive and continue north until you see the parking area on your left. 

Related Organizations

Mendocino Land Trust

The mission of the Mendocino Land Trust is to conserve and restore valuable natural resources of the Mendocino County region.  It is dedicated to providing public access to the coast and protecting working farmlands and forests, wildlife habitat, open space, scenic vistas and watersheds.

Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Asscoation

The mission of the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association is to manage,  protect, restore, interpret, and provide public access to the historic Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, and to assist State Parks in maintenance of the historic structures and gardens.

California State Parks

The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.