In 1595 the Spanish galleon San Agustin ran aground at Point Reyes. They thought this was an island, not a dangerous point amid stormy seas and numerous rocks. Seeking shelter from a storm this was the first recorded shipwreck on the west coast.
Point Reyes was named by Sebastian Vizcaino. He sailed along the California coast in December 1603 and called it Punto de los Reyes or Feast of Three Kings.
A lighthouse was assigned to Point Reyes in 1855 but construction was delayed for fifteen years. Fourteen more shipwrecks occurred during that delay.
The lighthouse is a 16 sided, 37 foot tower anchored to the carved solid rock terraces with large bolts. The lens, 24 bulls eye panels, produced a white flash for mariners once every five seconds.
Point Reyes was not an envied lightkeeper assignment as regular winds of 40 mph, gusts of up to 133 mph, and as much as 2,100 hours of fog annually are common here. Point Reyes is now maintained by the National Park Service and is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Yes, you can climb ALL the way to the lighthouse...all 308 steps with several sloped concrete areas mixed in. A sign at the top reminds you of these 308 steps and equates it to climbing a 30 story building. Okay...that puts it in perspective.
And yes, it is worth the effort.