Pillar Point Air Force Station and the surrounding area

When you stay at Pillar Point RV Park you have to wonder about what that big dome is just to the north on the Point.  That is the Pillar Point Air Force station and it is closed to the public.  Pillar Point is an important "protective point" for the U.S. west coast. It sports an 80-foot radar dish, and a fairly new telemetry antenna (that big round thing).

The object of Pillar Point "station" is to track the flight accuracy of missiles...particularly those launched from Vandenberg Air Force base near Santa Maria.    Since the people at Vandenburg are looking up at the missile launch they need someone to view and track it from the side.  That's where Pillar Point comes in.  Command Control for Vandenberg missile launches is at Pillar Point. If something goes wrong with a Vandenburg missile launch,  it is Command Control at Pillar Point that sends the signal to blow up the missile. Only Pillar Point has the authorization to blow up the missiles. Pillar Point Tracing station also fires up satellite's engines and moves them as needed from one position to another.

June Morrall of Half Moon Bay Memories has a great explanation here..


More technical information at


Half Moon Bay Residents went on a recent tour of the facility...Read about it at


At the base of the Pillar Point Air Force station is Pillar Point Bluff Preserve...the Pillar Point Marsh is right at the small parking lot and a popular place for bird watchers.  The preserve is bike and dog friendly. Just walk up the hill to the right and you have a great view from the bluffs.


For hundreds or even thousands of years, Pillar Point was inhabited by the Ohlone Indian tribe...they were still present through the 19th century.  They were most present in the riparian zone of El Granada Creek.  Russian fur trappers spent time in this area in the early 19th century.  Through the 19th century, according to Wikipedia, "a number of shipwrecks and other nautical accidents" occurred. "Most notable of the early shipwrecks was the wreck of the ship Rydall Hall in October 1876 recorded to have occurred near Pillar Point."

To the south of Pillar Point RV Park is El Granada Beach.  While Pillar Point RV Park is officially in Half Moon Bay, directly across Highway 1 is the town of El Granada.  El Granada was named after the Spanish city of Granada.  Up until the 1920s a railroad came through here. A good history of El Granada can be found at

On just the other side of the wharf, is "Princeton By the Sea" or "Princeton" as it is known to locals. This is the home to the famous "Mavericks" surfing contest.  Princeton is very involved in boating and fishing.

Half Moon Bay airport was built in 1942 and was a critical strip in World War II..
It is still an active airport.  (And home to 3 Zero Cafe, the best breakfast in town)

Post comment ...
Anonymous comments are disabled. Login