top of page

My first and only visit to Point Lobos was on Christmas Day, 2011. I knew the park was named for offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, and I looked forward to photographing its rugged coast and marine life. But, it was in its forests where I found inspiration. Standing among native Monterey Pines and Monterey Cypress, the land-dwelling symbol of the Reserve, I was overwhelmed with awe and felt compelled to photograph the trees. Their beauty and elegance was alarming. I marveled at their form and tenacity. Tamed by fierce coastal winds, they somehow remained firmly rooted. Their twisted, gnarled and bleached limbs, spoke of time, determination and survival -- not unlike the park’s history.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve embraces outstanding natural and scenic characteristics of statewide importance. It preserves native ecological relationships, unique animal and plant life, geological features and scenic qualities in an undisturbed condition. 

Yet its early use was anything but a reserve. Beginning in 1769, European arrivals found the land suitable as pastureland for livestock. Around 1851, Chinese fisherman landed at Point Lobos. Seeing its rich and diverse sea life – squid, sea urchins and abalone – they established a fishing settlement (including what is now Whalers Cabin Museum) and a successful cannery business harvesting abalone at Whalers Cove. The abalone cannery was so successful, it remained active until 1928. Meanwhile, Portuguese whalers moved in, also using Whalers Cove as their base for hunting California’s migrating gray whales. And, not surprisingly, coal was being mined in the hills southeast of Point Lobos. 

Coal mining declined by the late 1890’s at which time the local mining company pursued land development and subdivided their holdings into 1,000 residential lots. Fortunately early conservationists, Alexander and Satie Allan, began purchasing the land. Scientists, botanists and foresters came in to study the rare Monterey Cypress. They concluded that there are only two native stands in existence – a grove in Point Lobos and another across Carmel Bay. This sparked the attention of the Save-the-Redwoods League, whose funding, along with the Allans’ efforts and contributions, led to the preservation of Point Lobos. In 1933, it became part of California’s system of state parks. The Allan Memorial Grove, seen along the Cypress Grove Trail, honors this couple for their considerable gifts. Today, the park has grown from 348 to roughly 400 land acres, and boasts an additional 750-acre underwater park, the first marine reserve in the United States.

bottom of page