Natural Bridges State Park

  • Visitor center
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Beach Wheelchair

Features

  • Visitor center
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Parking
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Beach Wheelchair

Information

Website:
visit link
Address:
2531 West Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Region:
Monterey/Santa Cruz
Phone:
Info: (831) 423-4609
Res: (831) 423-4609
Hours:
Daily, 8 am-sunset; monarch tours on weekends, mid-October through February. Visitor center: Sat.-Sun.,10 am-4 pm
Dogs:
On leash
Dogs allowed on paved roads and in parking lot only; must be under owners' physical control, on leash that is 6 feet or less
Last Visited:
September 2008
In fall and winter, up to 150,000 monarch butterflies come to Natural Bridges State Park from the northern United States and southern Canada to roost and mate. During these months you can see thousands of butterflies fluttering through the park’s eucalyptus groves or hanging from the trees in clusters.

Across from the visitor center is the Monarch Trail, an accessible interpretive boardwalk that travels down through the Monarch Butterfly Nature Preserve for about an eighth of a mile to an observation deck. It's mostly shaded by eucalyptus trees and has numerous rest areas with benches. On warmer sunny days the butterflies take flight, and against the background of green branches they look like airborne stained-glass ornaments.

Even when the butterflies aren't visiting, there is plenty to do here. You can hike through coastal scrub to a vista point or visit the beach, where you will see the last of the three “bridges”—natural formations carved by waves from the sandstone bluffs the park was named for (the others have fallen). Two prominent observation areas, one at the end of West Cliff Drive, the other a few hundred feet from the entrance, are good places to watch the sun set and waves crash ashore, and possibly catch a glimpse of a whale during migration season, mid-October to March.

Visitor center: Interactive displays here provide information about monarch butterflies and about marine life and tidepools. Outside is a milkweed display that demonstrates the monarch's lifecycle. The center is open most weekends and some weekdays; call (831) 423-4609 for hours and event information. A wheelchair is available for use on the Monarch Trail.

Trails and Pathways

Trail:
Moore Creek Trail
Trail Length:
Less than .5 mile
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Gentle
Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trailhead Location: If you drive, enter at West Cliff Drive and park at the visitor center, then travel past the center several hundred feet on Natural Bridges Drive (closed to cars) to the trailhead on your left. If you take transit, use the pedestrian-only entrance at Natural Bridges Drive and Delaware Avenue, and proceed .25 mile to the trailhead.
Trail Overview: You can pick up a brochure for self-guided tours at the visitor center. The Moore Creek Trail travels for about .25 mile through low bushes across somewhat rough terrain to a lovely vista point with benches. The ocean and natural bridge can be seen in the distance. From here the trail becomes inaccessible as it travels steeply downhill to the beach. This part of the park is great for bird-watching and nighttime star-gazing.
More Info: The Delaware Street entrance gate has a clearance of about 25 inches, and a 90-degree turn may make it challenging to maneuver some wheelchairs. Mostly firm with some bumps, rocks, roots, and small gopher-size holes. May be impassable in the rainy season.

Accessibility Features

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, hard, level or slope no greater than 2%;

Next to the visitor center and .25 mile past the boardwalk. Free street parking is along Delaware Avenue and at the intersection of Swanton Boulevard and West Cliff Drive. The lot serving the beach boardwalk and the one before the park's entrance have no designated accessible parking spaces.


Accessible Restroom:
Yes – At the visitor center/museum, This restroom offers the best access. The restroom by the picnic area has grab bars and a wide stall but no maneuvering space.

Beach Wheelchair:
Yes – Call to reserve, (831) 423-4609

Accessible Picnic Table:
Yes – firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance; Picnic area has water, barbecue grills, and shade

Accessible Visitor Center:
Yes

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