Have you ever visited Natural Bridges State Beach? If you have never visited this place, we have some useful tips for you, first-time tourists. But before that, you need to know what this place is about.
Natural Bridges State Beach is an amazing waterfront park in Santa Cruz, California. This park is famous for its signature natural bridge standing just offshore. You can see a lot of flapping pelicans and cormorants here.
This place also has a large area of coastal scrub meadows with beautiful wildflowers. Natural Bridges is home to monarch butterflies during fall and winter. Visitors can see thousands of butterflies flying around during the butterflies’ peak season.
Curious already? Let's check it out more about this park and book your flight ticket later!
1. Natural Bridges State Beach Tide Pools
Natural Bridges State Beach is the best place for seeing shorebirds, migrating whales, seals, and otters. But the tide pools on this beach are unrivaled. You can see many marine species, from plants to animals.
At low tide, you can see sea stars, crabs, sea anemones, and other marine species. Remember to keep your eye on the ocean because the wave can come so suddenly. Besides, tide pools can be wet and slippery so you need to watch your step as well.
It is better to avoid stepping in areas with dark algae. Since tide pools are a Marine Protected Area, you need to take care of the wildlife by not touching or taking anything. The visitor center has a map to the tide pools, you can stop there and ask for directions.
2. Natural Bridges State Beach Butterflies
The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable butterflies on the planet. It has orange wings laced with black lines and encircles with white dots. Natural Bridges State Beach has a mild seaside climate and also the eucalyptus grove. It gives the monarch butterflies a safe condition to roost until spring.
This place is a temporary home for thousands of Monarch Butterflies during the winter. Their migration is from Rockie Mountain Valleys. You can visit the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve to see the migrating butterflies.
The butterflies are arrived around mid-October and stay until mid-February. This place also offers guided tours at 11 am and 2 pm during the fall and winter every weekend.
3. Natural Bridges State Beach Weather
During the summer, from June to August, it is usually dry and drought occurs. The average daily temperature is 17°C up to 30°C. In the summertime, the water temperature is around 16°C. The rainfall in winter happens from December to February and the peak is in February.
4. Natural Bridges State Beach Parking
Natural Bridges State Beach has a limited parking area. The parking area is located in front of the State Beach. But each vehicle is allowed to park for 20 minutes only.
Note that on weekends during summer, the parking area gets really crowded. There are also other parking lots provided, such as near the visitor center, shoulder parking direction to entrance kiosk, and outside the State Beach.
For buses carrying 10-24 passengers, the parking fee is USD50. For buses of more than 25 passengers, it is charged USD100.
5. Natural Bridges State Beach Camping
Bad news for camping lovers, camping in Natural Bridges State Beach is not allowed. It's because the park is for a day-use only.
6. Natural Bridges State Beach Events
There is an amazing festival perfect for a family vacation. Come to this park on the second Sunday in October from 11 AM until 4 PM to see the sight of monarch butterflies.
Another recommended event you should witness in this park is on the second Saturday in February. If you come there on that day, you will be amazed at the whale migration.
7. Best Time to Visit
This place is best visited in the evening at sunset and low tide because it is not so crowded and has more beautiful views. Summer is the perfect time to sunbathe, swim, surf, sailboard, and enjoy the beautiful views of this park.
During spring, you can enjoy the blooming wildflowers. The Natural Bridge State Beach operating hours is from 8 AM until sunset. The visitor center is open from 10 AM until 4 PM. You can rent a vehicle to explore the park for USD10 a day.
8. Picnic Area
There is a picnic area located in a eucalyptus and pine trees grove. You will be also provided with tables, barbecues, water faucets, and restroom facilities.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach and trails except for service animals. They are only allowed in the parking area. All the dogs must be on a leash and under owners control all the time.
10. Basic Park Information
- Bicycles are allowed 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 the special-event permit. You need to submit the permission at least 30 days before the D-day of the event.