We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
21,910 posts
26 reviews
Save Topic
TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Today was another glorious January Sunday in the Bay Area. I have been monitoring the tide tables and this weekend had lows at a convenient time for visiting. The butterflies are also there waiting.

I had evey intention to go for another mimosa brunch. But we found ourselves lounging in front of the TV watching Kap and the awesome Niner D putting the kittens from NC in their place. ; )

We drove on 17 South past a very empty looking Lexington Reservoir. I have friends who row there and wonder if their launch site is affected.

Got to Natural Bridges about 20 minutes before low tide. It was a beautiful afternoon. No wind and mid 60's. Lots of folks enjoying the day. T shirts and shorts kind of day.

We made our way on the sandstones and on to the mussels covered shelves. Had to hop over this one gap on the rocks I always hate. My Merrell waterproof hikers are so much better than the running shoes I wore to Baker Beach. I got sand all in my running shoes as they were porous. Not so today. Good grip too and I even stomped in shallow water.

The -0.2 ft low tide made for good exposure of the upper and lower pools. Plenty of green anemones and purple sea urchins. The pink coralline looked healthy too. Unfortunately, there were no starfish to be seen. They've all perished mysteriously from some liquefying disease. The docent said it was sudden and rapid and only since September. I wanted to see nudibranchs too but the docent said the surf was too rough today. It was a high surf warning today.

We spent over an hour on the shelves looking at the exposed pools, the surfers, and the birds.

There is something very relaxing watching the surfers and the sets of waves. Long long ago in a far away galaxy, I used to boogie board at La Jolla Shores and remember how peaceful it was out there just waiting for the next set. I wish I took up surfing in my years in SoCal. My surfers chick friends there are such bada#&$.

I will try to link some videos and photos later.

Surf School Santa Cruz
Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
Club Ed Santa Cruz Surf School
Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
Richard Schmidt Surf School
Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
Adventure Out
Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing, Other Outdoor Activities
Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,575 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Thanks for the report, chiinita.

You didn't mention the Monarch butterflies (?)

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
21,910 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Getting to them... and I ate Dungeness at the Wharf. : ) Trying to upload media to PhotoBucket.

Edited: 13 January 2014, 04:39
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
53,493 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Tres cool.

Who's got it better than us?

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,575 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

No many, belo. I wake up every morning thinking how lucky I am.

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
21,910 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

…photobucket.com/user/…

Here are a few photos. The rest of the story and photos and vids have to wait. Cheers!

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,575 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Great Photos, chinita. Thank you for the Monarch butterflies. Just haven't got down there yet.

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
21,910 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

I added more photos and captions to the slideshow. Please visit via the link here again:

…photobucket.com/user/…

Videos from the beach:

surf's up! …photobucket.com/user/sermochinita/media/Nat…

the intertidal zone

…photobucket.com/user/sermochinita/media/Nat…

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
21,910 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

After the tidepools, we took a shortcut past the restrooms to the road to the Monarch Trails. We keep missing the visitor’s center hours! Next time. We took the wheelchair accessible wooden boardwalk down to the eucalyptus groves where the butterflies were hanging out, literally. We got here as daylight was getting precious. We had very little time to capture them on film and video. There were a lot of people lying on their backs looking up at the butterflies. At initial glance, they are hard to find as they look just like brown leaves. But on closer inspection using binoculars (highly recommend you bring some) or telephoto lens, you see those brown things are actually the monarchs. If they have their wings open, they are their familiar brilliant orange color. However with their wings closed, they are brown from afar.

See this video of them flying in and out of the clusters:

…photobucket.com/user/sermochinita/media/Nat…

This is really a special place and should be enjoyed in silence. Dogs are not allowed here due to concerns of them disturbing the monarchs. I was slightly annoyed by a couple of women loudly gossiping about their neighbors. Fortunately, they left soon after we got there. There was a group of kids who were initially loud but their parents realized it was inappropriate and the “inside” voices came on. We all stood there under the tree stretching our necks to see them. It was really hard for the kids and an elderly woman in a wheelchair to see them. My husband was able to get great photos and videos of them with his digital SLR and telephoto lens. It was a joy to share these images with the kids and the elderly woman in the wheelchair. The brilliant photo of the cluster is from his fancy camera. Everything else is from my waterproof point-and-shoot.

Edited: 02 February 2014, 11:55
Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
21,910 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

We caught the setting sun as we headed back out on the beach. (see photo with pagoda and beach). We walked back to the car parked just outside the gates and started the beautiful drive along W. Cliff drive towards the Municipal Pier. Here is a sample of the drive: (what beach is that puter?)

…photobucket.com/user/sermochinita/media/Nat…

The surf must have been most excellent that day as many surfers were out, including at the famous Steamers’ Lane in front of the surf museum.

We arrived at the wharf and drove to the very end to Stagnaro Brothers for dinner. I was craving steamed Dungeness crab after all the talks here on TA. The wait was not bad at all, maybe 15 minutes. We were seated in a booth by the window. (There is a nice bar/lounge upstairs too – good for sunrise they say). I got my steamed crab and my spouse got the linguine with clams. He usually doesn’t do seafood but will get this every now and then. But it was still too “smelly” for him. Should have picked the parmesan chicken… Me? I was quietly working to get all the sweet meat out of the cracked shell and dip in the clarified butter. They gave me a fork but I just resorted to using my fingers and slurping. Sorry, not very refined I know. But I had plenty of company doing the same. : )

http://stagnarobros.com/

After a full day and tummy, we headed back up Hwy 17 towards home across the hill in the valley. Thanks for a good time as always Santa Cruz! We will be back very soon. I feel very fortunate to live so close to this special place.

Edited: 02 February 2014, 11:58
Level Contributor
36,638 posts
907 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: TR - Day trip to Natural Bridges State Park

Excellent trip report! Thank you! :)