Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is a wilderness island in the middle of an urban sea. This is considered as a fragile environment, home of the rarest pine tree called “Pinus torreyana”. Back then, a number of such trees covered a large area. But today, it only grows on Santa Rosa Island, located off the coast, near Santa Barbara.
The Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is for day use only. Overnight camping is not allowed within the facility. People can enjoy picnics here; however, picnics are permitted only on the beach area. No food or drinks are allowed within the preserve, so this is basically on the mesa above the beach, as well as on the extension. Unfortunately, there is no place to buy food and drinks in the park. For hikers, they are encouraged to bring and carry their own drinking water, especially on the trails. This is highly advised on the summertime when the heat is excruciating.
Where to Find Torrey Pines
The preserve is located between La Jolla and Del Mar in California, just north of San Diego. To get to the preserve, take Hwy 5, and then exit on Carmel Valley Road. Drive west for about 1.5 miles until you will reach the Coast Highway 101. Make a left and follow the beach for about a mile or so. The park entrance is on the right side, before the highway begins to climb the grade. The exact address is 12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego, California 92037.
Fees to Pay
There is a facility use fee for any car or vehicle entering the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. As of October of year 2011, the feel collection process is headed by a concessionaire, LAZ. Fees that are paid at the South Beach kiosk are valid for the South Beach parking area and the parking lots located at the Reserve, top of the mesa. A separate fee will be asked for the North Beach parking area.
Here is a summary of the fees:
- South Beach or Reserve lots: $10 (Mon to Thurs), $12 (Fri to Sun and during holidays)
- Bus with 10 to 24 people: $50
- Bus with 25 or more: $100
- For special events or group visits, reservations should be made.
- Annual Pass: $195; can be purchased at the Torrey Pines Visitor Center from 11 am to 1 pm
Hours of Operation
The Reserve is open daily, and gates open at 7:15 am. Closing time is approximately at sunset. The sunset can occur from 5pm during winter, and 8pm in the summer. On the other hand, the Visitor Center is open from 9am to 6pm during summer, while 10am to 4pm on the rest of the seasons.
What to Expect
The reserve is consist of a plateau with cliffs, and comes with a view of the Torrey Pines State Beach, and a lagoon known to play an important part with migrating seabirds. Several wildlife and flora can be found within the area, these include bobcats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, even coyotes and more. There are more or less 8 miles of trails, and there is a small museum that sits on top, as well as the Torrey Pines Lodge.