A walk through Natural Bridges State Beaches

Visiting Natural Bridges

 This park and beach is an excellent viewing area for sandpipers, migratory whales, and seals and otters playing in the open sea. Public tidal pools are available along the beach, where you can watch underwater life. 

The park also includes large coastal shrubs and meadows, and local wildflowers bloom in spring. Moor Creek flows through the park, forming freshwater wetlands and salt marshes before reaching the sea.   

Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve: A Welcoming Winter Home

Monarch Butterflies on Branches The imperial forest in the park is a temporary residence for thousands of emperors. In 2016, 8,000 monarch butterflies spent the winter on the natural bridge. The emperors formed the “city on the tree” from late autumn to winter.   

The seaside area’s mild climate and eucalyptus forests provide the monarch with a safe resting place until spring. Butterflies live in valleys west of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer, where Euphorbia grows, a companion plant to the monarch butterfly. Milkweed plants are available wherever there are monarchs for most of the year. Monarchs drink nectar from milkweed flowers, and female monarchs lay eggs on milkweed leaves.    

Euphorbia contains a toxin that makes it toxic to other animals when ingested by a caterpillar. These toxins also remain in the butterfly, providing protection against predators that monarchs would otherwise eat.    

The migration of the monarchs is not constant, and the number and date of the population vary from year to year. The monarch usually starts to arrive in mid-October and leaves in mid-February (in 2013, 2016 and 2017, the monarch leaves in January). At Natural Bridges, late October and throughout November are usually the best time to walk and watch monarch butterflies. The Monarchic Grove at Natural Bridges has been declared a nature reserve to protect these butterflies and their winter habitat from human invasion or destruction. It is the only national monarch reserve in California.    

Eucalyptus trees grow in the grove, located in a gentle canyon, providing shelter from the wind for the monarch. These winter-blooming trees are also a convenient food source for butterflies. On cold days, when temperatures drop below 60 degrees, butterflies gather on eucalyptus trees to keep warm. Visitors can see the wintering monarchs as they stroll along the park path for wheelchairs and prams to an observation deck in a eucalyptus grove. 

Intertidal Wonders at Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve

 The tidal pools of Natural Bridges State Beach are filled to the brim with thousands of creatures, each doing their best to survive in an ever-changing environment. The moon’s gravity triggers the tides twice a day, transforming this habitat from a completely submerged underwater world to a barren, open rocky shore. The salinity level rises sharply, and hungry predators rush for delicious food.   

These tidal basins are protected by law as part of a marine protected area to help preserve their pristine state for future generations. Stop at low tide to see a fantastic display of nature’s resilience. The visitor centre has a map of the tide pools.    

Go through opening hours to ask for directions. The best time to visit the tidal pools is at low tide. The quiet tide time can be viewed here. 

Always keep an eye on the ocean – violent waves can appear out of nowhere and catch unwary passers-by by surprise. Be careful – tidal pools can be wet, slippery and rocky. Avoid stepping on dark algae areas. Explore with your eyes only: tidal pools are a marine protected area, which means you can’t touch or fish them.   

Entrance for the natural bridges

Prices: Daily vehicle fee is $ 10. The PICNIC AREA is next to the central car park in a grove of eucalyptus and pine trees. There are tables, barbecues, water taps and toilets. This is a day park only; there is no camping here.    

Rules and Regulations

  • Enter tide pools only at low tide. Dangerous rebound currents and large waves can suddenly appear and wash people into the sea. 
  • Don’t run on wet coastal rocks, and don’t turn your back on the waves.
  •  Please check at the entrance station or visitor centre before entering the ocean and tide pool area.  
  • DO NOT COLLECT – Do not disturb the inhabitants of tidal pools or swarms of butterflies in any way.
  •  Plants, animals, and all-natural and cultural aspects of the park are protected by law. 
  • DOGS are only allowed in car parks and picnic areas, NOT on the beach and paths (except service animals). 
  • All dogs must be on a leash no more than six feet long and under human supervision at all times. 
  • Please do not leave your dog unattended in the vehicle.    
  • The use of drones is prohibited in the park. 
  • The park restricts model aeroplanes, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and flying gliders to protect wildlife and cultural resources and the safety and well-being of visitors and staff.  

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