Natural Bridges State Beach is a magnificent oasis of natural beauty located between the edge of the ocean and the outer limits of Santa Cruz. The beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, tide pools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub meadows, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. Moore Creek flows down to the ocean through these meadows, forming wetlands in the sand. During fall and winter, Natural Bridges is home to one of the largest monarch butterfly over-wintering sites in the Western United States. Each year, from the boardwalk in the Monarch Preserve, you can see thousands of monarch butterflies clustered in the eucalyptus trees. A demonstration milkweed patch next to the visitor center provides food for monarch caterpillars. If you look closely, you can often find the bright green chrysalids (cocoons) hanging under the fence railing. Public monarch tours are offered on the weekends. Spring brings warmer weather and low tides for viewing anemones, crabs, urchins, sea stars and other sea life. Moore Creek flows down to the ocean through a large area of coastal scrub meadows and along riparian, freshwater marsh and dune habitats on its way to the sea, forming a wildflower-covered wetland in the sand. Summer offers opportunities to sunbathe, swim, surf, sailboard and enjoy the beauty of this special park. The beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing the remaining natural bridge, as well as shore birds, migrating whales, seals and sea otters.
Natural Bridges State Park is a great destination for relaxation and puttering about the beach. Almost every time I visit Santa Cruz, I typically like to take friends here to lay on the beach or explore tidepools. In the winter, there's migratory monarch butterflies watching too, although their numbers have decline significantly in recent years.