Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach is world-renowned for its yearly migration of monarch butterflies. Visitors can see thousands during the butterflies’ peak season. The best time to see monarchs in the park is usually from mid-October to late January. (Dates the butterflies arrive and leave can vary widely from year to year. Call ahead to find out if the monarchs have arrived in mid-October, and to make sure they are still in the grove in late January.)
The grove’s eucalyptus trees are located in a small, protected canyon, providing the Monarch needed shelter from the wind. These winter flowering trees are also a convenient source of nectar for the butterfly. On chilly days when the temperature drops below 60 degrees, the butterflies cluster together in the eucalyptus trees for warmth and protection. On warmer days, butterflies flitter and float through the air as they fly from tree to tree. The park also maintains a milkweed demonstration patch where visitors may view Monarch eggs, caterpillars and chrysalides. For about half a year, milkweed is the Monarch’s home, super market and maternity ward. The Monarch larva eats only the milkweed plant. Visitors can learn and explore even more about the mysterious migration and lifecycle of the monarch on one of the parks tours.
Weekend Guided tours of the Monarch Grove take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., from Oct. 9 until the monarchs migrate, usually in late January. Monarch migration is variable; please call the park if you would like more information. Public tours are offered on weekends and no reservations are necessary, or call (831) 423-4609 to arrange a tour for a group of 10 or more. Meet at the Visitor Center for the hour-long program. The walk is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
This beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent place to view shore and ocean birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, tidepools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. Tide charts are available in the ParkStore.
The park also includes areas of coastal scrub meadows, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. Moore Creek flows down to the ocean through these meadows, forming a wetlands in the sand.
To learn about events in the parks and at the beaches, check out the Calendar Page.
Take Swift Street west from Highway 1, or follow West Cliff Drive north along the bluffs until it ends at Natural Bridges.
The ParkStore/Visitor Center features displays on the monarch butterflies and other features of the park. An aquarium features animals found in the tidepools. A video is available for viewing. The ParkStore/Visitor Center is open most weekends and some weekdays. Call (831) 423-4609 for current visitor center hours and special events.
- Picnic Areas
- Visitor Center
- Supplies nearby
Family and children’s programs
Natural Bridges will begin taking phone reservations for school group butterfly tours on Aug. 1. 831-423-4609
Camping not available
- Visitor center
- Family and educational programs
- Sand wheel chair available
Layered clothing is recommended due to changing weather conditions.
Dogs allowed on 6-foot or less leash and under physical control, only on paved roads and in parking lot.