Point Resistance Rock Special Closure

pelicans glide beside a cliff, above turbulent water


Point Resistance Rock Special Closure, north of Kelham Beach along Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, protects a large offshore rock important to breeding seabirds. Named for the nearby rocky coastal point, the special closure prohibits public access within 300 feet to protect breeding and nesting seabirds from disturbance. Located along a remote, sandy stretch of beach, this special closure helps to prevent Brandt's and pelagic cormorants, black oystercatchers, western gulls, common murres, pigeon guillemots, and brown pelicans from flushing and/or abandoning nests when disturbed.

The special closure overlaps Point Reyes National Seashore. The large outcropping is surrounded by tidepools and a shallow intertidal zone, rich with sea stars, mussels, barnacles, owl limpets and small fish. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the numerous trails along the mainland coastal bluffs with endless ocean views and abundant wildlife sightings. Point Resistance Rock is easily seen from Kelham Beach, and migrating birds and marine mammals are frequent visitors to these waters.


Boating and access are restricted. No person except employees of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, or United States Coast Guard during performance of their official duties, or unless permission is granted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, shall enter the area.

California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 632(b)(48)(opens in new tab)

Quick Facts

Special Closure size: 0.01 square miles

Depth range: 0 to 10 ft

Habitat composition*:

  • Rock: 0.02 square miles

*Habitat calculations are based on 3-dimensional area and may exceed the total MPA area listed above.

Photo Gallery

Video Gallery

California's MPA Network

About Point Resistance Rock Special Closure

Natural History

a dark green sea engulfs a steep rock with sea foam lapping at its edges, sea birds carpet the flat portions of the rock
Seabirds in Point Resistance Rock Special Closure. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo

Point Resistance Rock sits only a few hundred feet off the mainland coast. The special closure here was established to protect breeding common murres and roosting brown pelicans. Common murres are extremely vulnerable while breeding due to the heavy investment by both parents, who dedicate 90 to 135 days to raising one chick each breeding season.

The special closure protects ideal nesting habitat. Abundant food nearby ensures the best chances for survival of both parents and young. Birds who raise their young here benefit from the minimal human disturbance, which increases survivorship of fledglings and improves nesting success.

Point Reyes National Seashore, which covers 71,000 acres on the Point Reyes peninsula, contains the highest diversity of bird species in the United States. An astounding 490 species, or 54 percent of all North American bird species, have been documented on the Point Reyes peninsula.

Cultural History

pelicans gliding next to a cliff, above turbulent water
Brown pelicans at Point Resistance Rock Special Closure. photo © P. Tavares, CC BY-NC 2.0

For centuries, Native American Tribes in California have relied on marine and coastal resources. Many Native American Tribes in California continue to regularly harvest marine resources within their ancestral territories and maintain relationships with the coast for ongoing customary uses.

Point Reyes has a long history of human occupation. The Coast Miwok people lived on the peninsula for thousands of years. The traditional Coast Miwok diet consists of several species of fish including halibut and rockfish, and invertebrates such as crabs, clams, mussels, abalone and oysters. Kule Loklo, a replica Miwok village run jointly by members of the Coast Miwok and California State Parks, is located near Point Reyes National Seashore's Bear Valley Visitor Center.

The first European explorers to land in northern California came ashore with the Sir Francis Drake Expedition on June 17, 1579. They landed on the southern side of Point Reyes, in an area now known as Drakes Estero, which was used as a safe harbor for trading vessels. The fertile land near Drakes Estero was settled by the Spanish during the Missionary period, until Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 and the land fell under Mexico's rule. As California became a state in the mid-1800s, the area shifted to the ranching and dairy industry, and led the state in dairy production (in volume) into the 1890s.

Kelham Beach is named after the Kelham family, which owned property in Bear Valley. They operated a cattle ranch on the mainland near Point Resistance, grazing animals there until the National Park Service purchased the ranch for conservation purposes.


top-down view of hundreds of seabirds on a large rock above sealevel
Common murres and brown pelicans in Point Resistance Rock Special Closure. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo

Public access to Point Resistance Rock Special Closure is prohibited, however you can visit the beach just onshore to view the outcropping. Choose one of three different hiking trail options to access Kelham Beach, all of which are well mapped. The shortest option, about nine miles round trip, is Bear Valley trail. This is the single most popular trail in the Point Reyes National Seashore, a direct walk from Bear Valley Visitor Center to the ocean.

Visitors can watch for gray whales migrating south along the coast from mid-December through February, with a peak season around mid-January. Most of the year, common murres and brown pelicans can be easily admired with binoculars from the cliffside above Kelham Beach. Just north of Point Resistance Rock, the rocks of aptly named Sculptured Beach are exposed at low tide and offer exceptional tidepooling.


A special closure is designated from the mean high tide line to a distance of 300 feet seaward of the mean lower low tide line of any shoreline of Point Resistance Rock, located in the vicinity of 37° 59.916’ N. lat. 122° 49.759’ W. long.

California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 632(b)(48)

Downloads for Point Resistance Rock Special Closure


Map of Point Resistance Rock Special Closure - click to enlarge in new tab

Facts, Map & Regulations

MPA fact sheet - click to enlarge in new tab