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Mendocino Coast Whale Festival

California State Parks
March 2014

MacKerricher State Park, located three miles north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, is an ideal location for watching the whale migration.  A wheelchair accessible boardwalk allows access to the headlands of Laguna Point with stunning views of the coastline. Trained docents will present public whale walks with use of binoculars and a spotting scope to help visitors study whales and other fascinating marine and bird wildlife. 

Visit the rare, reconstructed Gray Whale Skeleton on permanent display near the visitor center and entry kiosk. Events are free of charge, for additional information call (707)961-0471 or visit  

Friday, March 14, 7:00 p.m.

Close Encounters of the Marine Mammal Kind – Local photographers Carl Shaffer and Ron LeValley present an inspirational and educational collection of the most recent whale migration photos from both sky and sea.  Location is in the Fort Bragg Library Community Room at 499 Laurel Street.

Whale Festivals Image

Saturday and Sunday, March 15-16, 11:00 a.m.

Whale Walks –Docents present an informative overview of gray whales. The program starts at the visitor center and proceeds to the whale skeleton before driving to Laguna Point for whale watching.

Whale Festivals images

Saturday, March 15, 1-3:00 p.m.

A Whale of a Scavenger Hunt – This program is fun for all ages and begins at the visitor’s center.  Hike yourself through the park searching for whale related facts on an adventurous journey that includes arts & crafts, a unique visitor, and a prize!  

Whale Festivals images

Sunday, March 16, 1-3:00 p.m.

Meet a Whale! – Meet at the visitor’s center to paint the iron supports of a life size whale skeleton!  You can help preserve MacKerricher’s famous exhibit by wearing your painting clothes and bringing a paint brush.
*NOTE - rain or fog will cancel*

Whale Festivals images

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, located between Hwy 1 and Point Cabrillo Drive, occupies a spectacular headland thrusting out into the Pacific Ocean. Park and walk the half-mile down the access road leading to the lighthouse and gift shop or hike the trail through the grasslands. Accessible parking is available in front of the light station residences. 

Visiting Point Cabrillo for the Whale Festival supports the Education Program.  During 2013, donations and profits helped 1,034 students and 432 adults learn firsthand about the cultural and natural history at Point Cabrillo. Instructors not only teach, they volunteer countless hours painting and refurbishing the Marine Science Exhibit, docent during Whale Festival, conduct Road Scholar tours, and lead lens tours into the lighthouse tower.  For more information, visit

Point Cabrillo Light Station image Point Cabrillo Light Station image

Saturday and Sunday, March 1-2 and 15-16, 10-4:00 p.m.

Whale Watching – experienced and enthusiastic docents help visitors spot whales and other marine life along one of the best gray whale migration viewing locations along the coast.

Point Cabrillo Light Station Whale Watching image

Lens Tours – tour a 1909 lighthouse and imagine yourself as a Lightkeeper!   Local Lightkeepers, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 87, and Lightkeeper docents accept a $5 donation for a tour of the lighthouse tower, the lens in the lantern room, and the lantern gallery.

Museum Tours – follow the docent through the First Assistant Lightkeeper’s Residence showing how their families lived in the 1930’s.

Bird Walks – for all ages and abilities, led by the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society at 9:00 a.m.  Meet at the top parking lot.  A limited number of binoculars are provided.

Marine Science Education Exhibit – marine science docents invite you to visit an old blacksmith shop, “The Smithy” for a fascinating tour into the lives of animals that inhabit the ocean.  Put together a giant whale puzzle then peer into a 250 gallon salt water aquarium to see the amazing organisms found along the intertidal coastline.

Mendocino Headlands State Park, located in Mendocino village on Highway One, will hold the following events at the Ford House Visitor Center and Museum, 45035 Main Street, open 11am to 4pm daily.  Built in 1854 for Jerome Ford, the acknowledged founder of Mendocino, the Ford House has exhibits highlighting the area’s natural and cultural history, including a scale model of Mendocino as it was in 1890.  For more information, visit the Ford House online at , on Facebook, or by calling the Ford House Visitor Center at (707) 937-5397.

Ford House imageMendocino Headlands image

Month of March

Whale Tales – Exhibit featuring bones from a Gray Whale, information regarding the gray whale migration, and a whale quiz. Knowledgeable docents will be on hand throughout the Whale Festival with tips on when and where to watch for whales, and to answer questions regarding gray whale natural history.

Ford House Whale Tale Exhibit image

Saturday, March 1, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 2, 11:00 a.m.

Whale Walks – for the public and led by knowledgeable docents.
A limited number of binoculars are available for loan.  Meet at the Ford House.

Saturday, March 1, 12-4:00 p.m.

Coffee Tasting – Free Thanksgiving Coffee tasting on the Ford House front porch.

Van Damme State Park, located along Hwy 1 and three miles south of Mendocino, will have the visitor center open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 7th, 8th & 9th, from 10-3 p.m.  Volunteer Scott Lewis and park hosts Bruce and Fritz will share the history and environment of our park, which features coastal Spring Ranch trails, a lush Fern Canyon, a scenic riparian trail system, a Pygmy Forest interpretive walk of miniature mature trees.  For more information call (707) 937-4015 or visit

Van Damme Whale Walk image

Saturday, March 8, 10 a.m. - noon

Whale Walk – two-hour guided walk searching for pelagic cormorants, seaside daisies and of course, whales!  Spring Ranch Headlands is part of Van Damme State Park and docent Stan Anderson will lead the way. Binoculars available, dogs allowed on 6 ft. leash only please.  Meet at public pullout on the west side of Highway One, opposite Gordon Lane, north of the park’s main entrance.  Look for the big blue whale. FREE, donations welcomed!  *Note:  heavy rain cancels*

Sunday, March 9, 10:30 a.m.  - noon

Barn Tour – Docent led tour of Spring Ranch Barns, donations for the preservation of the barns suggested. Park at the Spring Ranch Estate on the east side of the highway.  Look for the blue inflatable whale.