California's Lighthouses

When people often think of lighthouses, they usually think of the famous towers that dot Cape Cod or the coast of Maine. But California has 15 historic lighthouses, including the oldest and tallest lighthouses on the West Coast.

Plan your next coastline road trip around tours of California's scenic lighthouses!

Here's an overview of lighthouses across California along with nearby campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that could serve as "base camps" for lighthouse focused road trips:

Crescent City Area

-- Battery Point Lighthouse: Built in 1856, this 45-foot, Cape Code style lighthouse survived a 1964 tsunami that destroyed much of Crescent City. The lighthouse is considered to be haunted. To reach the lighthouse from US 101, take Front Street heading west and then make a left of A Street.

Nearby campgrounds include:

-- Crescent City Redwoods KOA in Crescent City: (707) 464-5744 or www.koa.com

-- Hiouchi RV Resort in Crescent City: (707) 458-3321 or www.hiouchirv.com

-- The Redwoods RV Resort in Crescent City: (707) 487-7404 or www.redwoodsrv.com

-- Village Camper Inn in Crescent City: (707) 464-3544 or www.villagecamperinn.com

Mendocino Coast

-- Point Arena Lighthouse: The original tower was built in 1870, but was destroyed during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The current 115-foot lighthouse was built in 1908 and became the nation's first steel-reinforced lighthouse. It is located one mile north of the town of Point Arena along State Route 1. The lighthouse is open daily.

-- Point Cabrillo Lighthouse: This lighthouse was originally built after the 1906 earthquake to warn ships carrying lumber to stay away from the coastal shoals. The lighthouse is located two miles north of Mendocino and can be reached by taking Point Cabrillo Drive off State Route 1. The lighthouse is open daily.

Nearby campgrounds include:

-- Caspar Bach RV Park Campground in Mendocino: (707) 964-0526 or www.casparbeachrvpark.com

-- Fort Bragg Leisure Time RV Park in Fort Bragg: (707) 964-5994 or www.fortbraggltrvpark.com

-- Sportsmans RV Park in Fort Bragg: (707) 964-2612 or www.sportsmansrvpark.com

-- Pomo RV Park & Campground in Fort Bragg: (707) 964-3372 or www.pomorv.com

San Francisco Bay Area

-- Alcatraz Lighthouse: Alcatraz Island was actually the site of the first operational U.S. lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. It was originally built in 1852 and its beacon was first lit in 1854 to guide ships through San Francisco Bay. Like other lighthouses, it was damaged during the 1906 earthquake. It was replaced with an 84-foot-tall tower in 1909 when the Alcatraz prison was constructed. The tower can be seen by taking a ferry and guided tour of Alcatraz Island.

-- Pigeon Point Lighthouse: Located along State Route 1 in Pescadero, 50 miles south of San Francisco, this 115-foot lighthouse has been in operation since 1872. It is considered to be California's most photographed lighthouse. The inside of the lighthouse is not open to the public, but docents lead history walks around the grounds.

-- Point Bonita Lighthouse: Point Bonita is located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Exit US Highway 101 north at Alexander Avenue or US Highway 101 south at the last exit before the Golden Gate Bridge and follow the signs. It was originally built in 1855. However, the lighthouse keepers' quarters were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Full moon tours are offered during the summer months.

-- Point Montara Lighthouse: This lighthouse is located along State Route 1 about 25 miles south of San Francisco between Montara and Moss Beach. A foghorn was first installed at the site in 1872. A light tower was subsequently built in 1900. The grounds are accessible but there are no tours inside the lighthouse.

-- Point Reyes Lighthouse: Originally built in 1870, this lighthouse was used for 125 years. It is located in an area considered to be the foggiest location in California. The lighthouse and visitors center at Point Reyes National Seashore are open year round.

Nearby campgrounds include:

-- Candlestick RV Park in San Francisco: (415) 822-2299 or www.sanfranciscorvpark.com

-- San Francisco RV Resort & Campground in Pacifica: (888) 479-5144 or www.rvonthego.com/ca

-- Marin Park, 10 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge: (888) 461-5199

-- Pillar Point RV Park in Half Moon Bay: (650) 712-9277 or www.pillarpointrvparklive.com

-- Pelican Point Point RV Park in Half Moon Bay: (650) 726-9100

Monterey Bay Area

Point Pinos Lighthouse: This is the oldest active lighthouse on the West Coast. Originally built in 1855, its light has been in operation ever since. However, it was severely damaged during the 1906 earthquake and was rebuilt with reinforced concrete in 1907. It is considered to be one of California's prettiest lighthouses. The lighthouse located in Pacific Grove. It is open Monday through Thursday.

Point Sur Lighthouse: This picturesque lighthouse is located off of State Route 1 19 miles south of Carmel. It has been in continuous operation since 1889. It is considered one of the 10 most haunted lighthouses in the U.S. Ghost tours are offered as fundraising events in October.

Nearby campgrounds include:

-- Big Sur Campground and Cabins in Big Sur: (831) 667-2322 or www.bigsurcamp.com

-- Carmel by the River RV Park in Carmel: (831) 624-9329 or www.fernwoodbigsur.com

-- Fernwood Resort in Big Sur: (831) 667-2422 or www.fernwoodbigsur.com

-- Marina Dunes Beach Resort in Marina: (831) 384-6914

-- Riverside Campground & Cabins in Big Sur: (831) 667-2414 or www.riversidecampground.com

Greater San Luis Obispo Area

-- Piedras Blancas Lighthouse: This 115-foot lighthouse is located along State Route 1 just north of Hearst Castle. Completed in 1875, it is open for tours.

-- Point San Luis Lighthouse: This lighthouse is located near San Luis Obispo on the grounds of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and is not visible from public roads. The light at this "Prairie Victorian" style lighthouse was first turned on in 1890. It is open for guided tours only and is not visible from public roads.

Nearby campgrounds include:

-- Bay Pines Travel Trailer Park in Morro Bay: (805) 772-3223 or www.baypinesrv.com

-- Cypress Morro Bay in Morro Bay: (805) 772-2515

-- Morro Dunes Travel Trailer Park and Resort Campground in Morro Bay: (805) 772-2722 or www.morrodunes.com

-- Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach: (888) 782-3224 or www.pismocoastvillage.com

-- Rancho Colina in Morro Bay: (805) 772-8420

Greater Los Angeles Area

-- Point Vicente Lighthouse: This 67-foot lighthouse is located in Rancho Palos Verdes about one quarter mile south of Hawthorne Boulevard. Built in 1926, it remains one of the brightest lights along the Southern California coast. It is open the second Saturday of each month.

-- Point Fermin Lighthouse: Built in 1874, this was the first lighthouse in San Pedro Bay. Unlike other California lighthouses, which stand by themselves, Point Fermin is integrated into a Victorian style house. Volunteers from the Point Fermin Lighthouse Society serve as tour guides and help keep it open to the public. The lighthouse is located on the south side of San Pedro just west of the southern end of S. Pacific Avenue. Children under 40 inches tall are not allowed in the lighthouse tower.

Nearby campgrounds include:

-- Dockweiler Beach RV Park in El Segundo: (310) 322-4951 or http://reservations.lacounty.gov

-- Golden Shore RV Resort in Long Beach: (562) 435-4646 or www.goldenshorerv.com

Greater San Diego Area

-- Old Point Loma Lighthouse: Located inside Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, this Cape Cod style lighthouse was built in 1855. The lighthouse is open daily.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Campland by the Bay in San Diego: (858) 581-4200 or www.campland.com

Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego: (877) 219-6900 or www.missionbayrvresort.com

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