Natural Bridges State Beach

UPDATE (July 13, 2020) - California State Parks continues to work with locals on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. Even though the department has increased access across the State Park System, the need for Californians to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the outdoors remains critical.

As such, State Parks continues to ask visitors to plan ahead, avoid road trips and stay close to home, maintain physical distancing, wear a face covering when a physical distance of six feet from others who are not from the immediate household members cannot be maintained, and avoid congregating. This means no gatherings, picnics or parties. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance. Full details on the guidelines are available atparks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Below you will find specific information for Natural Bridges State Beach:

What is open now?
  • Parking and restroom facilities are now open for access. Masks must be worn at the kiosk when entering the park.

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?


At this park:
  • Visitor center and park store

Statewide:

  • Some campgrounds across the state remain closed until further notice. Some campgrounds have started to reopen with modifications. For more information, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping.
  • Some high public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?

Yes, please see below:
  • Stay Local: Although businesses around the state are opening up, Californians should not travel significant distances for pleasure or recreation and should stay close to home. Parking is very limited or closed at park units across the state. Walk or bike to parks in your local neighborhood. Do not travel if you are sick or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
  • Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors will be asked to leave if there are too many people at the park, beach or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered: The state now requires you to wear a face covering in most indoor settings and public outdoor spaces when you cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet or more from people outside of your immediate household. For details, please visit CDPH’s guidance here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.

Thank you for your patience and continued support of California State Parks as we work to limit your risk for exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. For more information, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

(831) 423-4609

Park Hours

Beach Hours: 8am to Sunset

Visitor Center: 10am to 4pm

Dogs Allowed?

Yes
Limited – Dogs not allowed on beach or trails.

Driving Directions to Natural Bridges SB

Take Swift St. south from Highway 1, or follow West Cliff Dr. west along the in-town bluffs until it ends at Natural Bridges.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

TRAIL USE
Bike Trails
Hiking Trails
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Beach Area
Vista Point
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Windsurfing/Surfing
Family Programs
Geocaching
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Parking
Restrooms
Drinking Water Available
Wheelchair Accessible

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Visiting Natural Bridges

Birds on the beachThis park and beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, as well as seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, public access tidepools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life.  The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub and grasslands, with bright native wildflowers in the spring.  Moore Creek flows through the park, forming freshwater wetlands and a salt marsh before it reaches the sea.

Take a 360 photo tour of Natural Bridges before you visit!

 

Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve: A Welcoming Winter Home

Monarch Butterflies on a branchThe park's Monarch Grove provides a temporary home for thousands of Monarchs. In 2016, 8,000 Monarch Butterflies overwintered at Natural Bridges. From late fall into winter, the Monarchs form a "city in the trees." The area's mild seaside climate and eucalyptus grove provide a safe place for monarchs to roost until spring.

In the spring and summer, the butterflies live in the valley regions west of the Rocky Mountains where the monarch's companion plant, milkweed, is found. For most of the year, where there are monarchs, there are also milkweed plants. Monarchs drink nectar from milkweed flowers, and female monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed leaves. Milkweed contains a toxin that, when ingested by the caterpillar, makes it toxic to other animals. These toxins remain in the butterfly as well, providing protection from predators that would otherwise eat the monarchs.

 

 

Monarch FestivalVisiting the Monarch Preserve
Monarch migration is variable and population numbers and dates are different each year. The monarchs typically begin arriving in mid-October and leave by mid-February (In 2013, 2016, and 2017 the monarchs had left by January). At Natural Bridges, late October and all of November is often the best time to go for a walk and observe the monarchs. The Monarch Grove at Natural Bridges has been declared a Natural Preserve, thus protecting these butterflies and their winter habitat from human encroachment or harm. It is the only State Monarch Preserve in California.

The grove contains eucalyptus trees which are located in a gently sloping canyon, providing the Monarch needed shelter from the wind. These winter-flowering trees are also a convenient food source for the butterfly. On chilly days when the temperature drops below 60 degrees, the butterflies cluster together in the eucalyptus trees for warmth.

Visitors can view the over-wintering Monarchs by walking down the park's wheelchair and stroller-accessible boardwalk to an observation deck in the eucalyptus grove.

  • Please help protect the health of the butterflies: do not touch or otherwise harm the fragile butterflies.
  • For everyone's enjoyment, no smoking, dogs, bicycles, skates, or skateboards on the boardwalk.
  • Quiet please. Help maintain the sanctuary experience. Monarchs and other visitors are relaxing.

 

  Intertidal Wonders at Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve

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The tide pools at Natural Bridges State Beach are filled to the brim with thousands of creatures, each one doing its best to survive in a constantly changing environment. The moon's gravity pulls on the tides twice daily, converting this habitat from a fully submerged underwater world to an arid and exposed rocky shore. Salinity levels skyrocket and hungry predators swoop in for a tasty meal. These tide pools are preserved and protected by law as part of a Marine Protected Area, which will help maintain their pristine state for generations to come. Stop by at low tide to view this awesome display of nature's resiliency.

 

Visiting the Tide Pools
The Visitor Center has a map to the tide pools. Stop by during open hours to ask for directions. The best time to visit the tide pools is during a low tide. You can view low tide times here

Remember to practice good tide pool safety:

  • Always keep your eye on the ocean: Rogue waves can come out of nowhere and catch unwary bystanders by surprise.
  • Watch your step: Tide pools can be wet, slippery, and rocky. Avoid stepping in areas with dark algae.
  • Explore with eyes only: The tide pools are a Marine Protected Area, which means no touch and no take. Please respect all wildlife.

 

Basic Park Information

FEES - There is a $10 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $10 (Senior $9, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]

PICNIC AREA is located off the main parking lot in a eucalyptus and pine trees grove. Tables, barbecues, water faucets and restroom facilities are available. This is a day-use park only, there is no camping.

OCEAN SAFETY— No lifeguards on duty. Enter tide pools only during periods of low tide. Surf can be unpredictable. Hazardous rip currents and large waves can appear out of nowhere and sweep people out to sea. Do not run on the wet rocks of the intertidal area, and never turn your back to the waves. Check at the entrance station or visitor center before entering the ocean and the tide pool areas.

COLLECTING is not allowed—Do not disturb tide pool residents or the butterfly clusters in any way. The park’s plants, animals, and all natural and cultural features are protected by law.

DOGS are allowed only in the parking lots and picnic areas, but NOT on the beach and trails (except for service animals). All dogs must be on a six-foot maximum leash and under human control at all times. Please do not leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. For a list of locations you can take your dog in Santa Cruz County, please click here.

BICYCLES are permitted only on paved roads.

FIRES are not allowed on the beach.

GLASS containers are not allowed on the beach.

ALCOHOL is only allowed in the park with a previously issued special-event permit. Submit permit applications at least 30 days before the event date.

DRONES are not allowed in the park. To protect wildlife and cultural resources, and for the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, the park is closed to the use of Model Aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Gliders in flight.

 

Volunteering

Volunteer at Monarch Festival<span id=Volunteers are crucial to the success of Natural Bridges, especially during the Monarch butterfly season and tide pool seasons. Trained docents, college interns, and volunteers can help lead guided walks, host the visitor center, help with park restoration, and assist with special events.

Spring volunteer training starts March 4 with a focus on the ocean and shore and tidepool life.

For more information and the volunteer application, please click here

 

School Group Tours

Kids tourNatural Bridges State Beach offers several guided tours for school groups including Monarch Tours (offred October through January), Tide Pool Tours (offered March through July), and Guided Nature Walks (all year). For more information, please click here.