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Events and Activities

Summer Programs at Natural Bridges State Beach

July 2014 Tidepool Explorations –   Meet at the Visitor Center at Natural Bridges State Beach on the following dates and times to explore the rocky shores on a one and a half hour tour:
Friday,     July   4 at 11 am
Saturday, July   5 at 11 am
Sunday,   July   6 at 11 am
Saturday, July 19 at 11 am
Sunday,   July 20 at 11 am   
Natural Bridges is famous for the wave cut platforms that form the basis of some of the most diverse tidepools in the world.  Join a Docent Naturalist and discover the amazing plants and animals that make their home in the intertidal habitat. Layered clothing and shoes with traction are recommended.  Inclement weather will cancel Tidepool Explorations.  Meet at the Visitor Center.  For further information or accessibility assistance, please call (831) 423-4609.

Little Rangers Programs for 3-6 year olds with an adult
 Free, Meet at 10:30 am at the Visitor Center— Natural Bridges State Beach
RSVP (831) 423-4609 x8

June 2014
Monday 23–  Tremendous Tidepools
Monday 30–  Secrets of Sand
July 2014
Monday  7–  Animal Yoga & Tracking
Monday 14– Fire & Survival Skills
Monday 21- Wonders of Wetlands & Fantastic Frogs
Monday 28- Super Seeds
August 2014
Monday  4-  Tree Detectives
Monday 11–  Sea Otters
Monday 18– Bountiful Birds
Monday 25– Precious Pollinators

Join our Wonderful Team of Volunteers!

The Monarchs are Coming!
Sign up now to volunteer in the monarch butterfly grove
Docent Training begins mid September and preregistration is required.  
You can be an ambassador of the park and help inquisitive visitors discover more about the butterflies by becoming a volunteer park docent at Natural Bridges State Beach.   To find out more or sign up, call (831)423-4609 or email  

Natural Bridges State Beach is preparing for the annual return of migratory monarch butterflies.  Volunteers are needed for the Natural Bridges State Beach Fall Butterfly season.These beautiful orange and black butterflies attract local visitors, schoolchildren and tourists from around the world.  Docents learn about the fascinating biology and conservation efforts to protect the monarch and then share what they have learned with park visitors.  Volunteer training occurs on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays in preparation for the butterfly season beginning with Welcome Back Monarch’s Day on October 13. 

Co-sponsored by California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Tours of the Monarch Grove

Mid October to January (Fall to early winter when monarchs are present)
Saturdays & Sundays at 11:00 & 2:00

Join a Docent Naturalist for a tour of the state designated monarch butterfly preserve at Natural Bridges State Beach.  Monarch butterflies are returning this fall to their winter home along our coast.  Learn the story of this beautiful creature and its fascinating seasonal migration. Public tours are offered on weekends and no reservations are necessary, or you may call 423-4609 to arrange a tour for a group of 10 or more.  Fall walks begin the 3rd weekend in October and continue through January or as long as monarchs are present;  Monarch numbers vary, usually  the highest numbers are visible in November/December.  Meet at the Visitor Center for the hour-long program.  The walk is wheelchair accessible.

A Special Event Announcement!

Welcome Back Monarch’s Day!
Sunday, October 12, 2014
10:00am to 4:00pm
At Natural Bridges State Beach
Welcome Back Monarchs Day is a Santa Cruz tradition as friends and families gather at Natural Bridges State Beach for a joyful, monarch-filled event on Sunday, October 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  There will be live music, and kids can enjoy making arts & crafts projects, playing active games and feasting on hand-cranked ‘monarch’ ice cream (it’s really pumpkin).  Informational booths will include “how-to’s” for creating a successful butterfly garden. Kids and adults are encouraged to dress up in orange and black for the monarch parade!  The day will end with a performance by the well-loved 5M’s "The mostly-mediocre-musical-monarch Mariposas," a parade featuring the return of Monarch Man and Monarch Woman, and the now-famous monarch butterfly habitat cake.  Don't forget to meet and greet the guests of honor:  the monarchs themselves! 

Monarch Butterflies are famous for their striking beauty, and for their multi-generational migration from western states to the California coast.  The monarchs in our area arrive here from states west of the Rocky Mountains.  The new arrivals are 4 generations removed from the butterflies that left here last spring.  The overwintering population you see along the coast is the longest lived generation—surviving up to 8 months.

Monarch butterflies begin arriving through October and their numbers and visibility typically peak from late November to early December.  They cluster in the eucalyptus, Monterey cypress and other trees for protection from wind and cold.  When the weather warms to above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you may see the monarchs burst from their clusters and flutter about in search of flower nectar and water. 

Monarch migration is variable and their numbers differ from year to year.  Natural Bridges State Beach is located at the end of West Cliff Drive at the north end of Santa Cruz.  More information is available at (831) 423-4609. 

Events made possible by California State Park Docents, California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Ocean Naturalist and Monarch Butterfly Volunteer Trainings

Volunteer Training takes place twice per year at Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural bridges is famous for its tide pools, monarch butterflies, and is located within the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Volunteers assist park visitors in learning about the natural habitats at the park. Docent training classes are held twice per year and focus on the marine environment in the Spring, and monarch butterfly preserve in the Fall.  

Springtime volunteer training starts in April with a focus on the ocean, shore and tide pool life
Call (831)423-4609  for details and registration
New volunteers learn about the natural history of the marine environment during a series of 8 training classes.  Graduates of the docent naturalist training volunteer 6 hours per month to host the visitor center, lead guided walks, and assist with educational programs and events at the park. For registration information, please call Martha at (831) 423-4609. 

Fall volunteer training begins in September with a focus on the monarch butterfly grove
Call (831)423-4609  for details and registration
Each Fall, Natural Bridges State Beach prepares for the annual return of migratory monarch butterflies.  The beautiful orange and black monarchs attract local visitors, schoolchildren and tourists from around the world.  Docents learn about the fascinating biology of the monarch and its migration and then share what they have learned with park visitors.

Generations of friends and families make visiting Natural Bridges State Park a Santa Cruz tradition.  By educating visitors about how to help reduce our impact on the environment by conserving energy, reducing pollution, and protecting natural resources, they can become part of the solution to the many challenges ahead.  Docent Naturalists share their knowledge and create experiences that inspire connection and caring.  Volunteer and discover how your commitment of 6 hours a month can make a difference!  The park is located at the end of West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.

Sponsored by California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Annual Events for 2014

Monarch Tours - Weekends from mid-October through January at 11:00a.m. and 2:00p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Meet at the visitor center for a guided tour of the monarch grove.  Monarch migration is variable, to find out the current population, or to arrange a tour for groups of 10 or more, call (831) 423-4609.

Migration Festival - Saturday, February 8, 2014 from 11:00a.m to 4:00p.m.
Fly, swim, waddle, walk, bike or drive as you migrate to the park for a full day of activities that celebrate the migration of whales, butterflies, birds and the many creatures that travel.  The park will host migratory animal talks, active kids' games, crafts, skits and live music. 

Welcome Back Monarchs Day -Sunday, October 12, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The beauty and wonder of monarch butterflies is revealed  through stories, crafts, active learning games, live music and presentations.  Dress up and join the butterfly parade as we welcome back monarchs arriving to their winter home!

Events made possible by California State Park Docents, California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks