Beach Hours: 8am to Sunset
Visitor Center: 10am to 4pm
DAY USE AREAS (trails, beaches): Open; Please bring cash in exact change to pay fees at self-registration stations.
RESTROOMS: Open; Please bring soap for handwashing or hand sanitizer.
PARKING LOTS: All parking lots in San Mateo County-area parks and specific parking lots in Santa Cruz County-area parks are temporarily closed. Click here for the latest updates.
CAMPGROUNDS: Temporarily Closed
PARK STORES, VISITOR CENTERS & MUSEUMS: Temporarily Closed
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS & GUIDED TOURS: Temporarily Suspended
LARGE EVENTS: Temporarily Suspended
SPECIAL EVENT PERMIT APPLICATIONS: Temporarily Suspended
California State Parks is taking steps to support state and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As of March 23, 2020, State Parks has temporarily closed vehicular traffic to certain parks experiencing high visitation. This includes all San Mateo County parks. To see a current list of impacted parks, visit www.parks.ca.gov/flattenthecurve. For those wishing to take a break in the outdoors, public health officials are advising them to walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods and walk to parks. Most importantly, the public is being asked not to congregate in the outdoors.
Campgrounds are temporarily closed as of March 17, 2020. Camping reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds. Visitor Centers, museums, and park stores are also temporarily closed.
Guided tours, educational programs, and large events are temporarily suspended as of March 14, 2020. Tour reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds. Special event applications have been suspended until further notice as of March 14, 2020.
As of March 17, 2020, non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to take soap for hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.
State Parks recommends that everyone follow precautionary guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, public local health agencies, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when recreating in the outdoors. Everyone has the responsibility to “flatten the COVID-19 curve at Parks” by maintaining a social distance of 6 ft. or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick. If visitors cannot maintain social distancing, they need to leave the park.
For the most up-to-date information on how State Parks is supporting the state’s COVID-19 efforts, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/flattenthecurve and follow State Parks on its social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tide Pool Docent Training Opportunity
Do you love to spend time in nature? Do you enjoy interacting with people? Come be a docent volunteer! Learn about the amazing tide pool habitat and how to interact with visitors, take others on nature walks, participate in special events and contribute to the inspiration and enjoyment of park visitors. Student internships available.
Training begins Wednesday, March 4 and lasts 4 weeks. Training is held on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. For more information, please call (831) 423-4609 ext. 3 or email us. To apply, click here.
This 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!
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. Tide pools at the park are preserved and protected by law as a Marine Protected Area, maintaining its pristine state for generations to come. Stop by at low tide to view this awesome display of nature's resiliency.
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.
The Visitor Center has a map to the tide pools. Stop by during open hours to ask for directions. You can view low tide times at this link.
The 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.
Visiting 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.
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.
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.
Natural 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.