Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon any time of the year, but come fall, the park welcomes the migrating Monarch butterflies—and it’s an event not to be missed! The butterflies will make Santa Cruz their from home from October until mid-February, but be sure to visit on a day when the temperature is above 55° F and the air is calm, to insure viewing these beauties fluttering their vibrant, orange wings in the eucalyptus treetops.
There’s lots to see and do here. The park offers an eucalyptus grove, tide pools, wetlands, hiking paths, picnic tables, BBQ’s, and a great beach for exploring. Enthusiastic volunteers help guests learn about the Monarch’s migration and metamorphosis. Just outside the visitor center is a milkweed demonstration garden surrounded by wide-eyed youngsters eagerly eyeballing the plants for a close-up view of the striped caterpillars or dangling chrysalises. Photographers are everywhere, and you’ll want to capture your own images of these beloved butterflies, as well. Bring the binoculars, too!
The highlight of the day comes on your walk through the canopied eucalyptus grove. The giggles and joyous chatter becomes subdued when guests realize they’re in the presence of a natural wonder. The grove is calm and tranquil, and you will be, too. Enjoy!
The Monarch butterfly population has diminished sharply in the past few years, and the butterfly is now under consideration for protection. Californians who live inland can help by planting milkweed seeds in their home gardens, and you’ll find seeds conveniently sold at the gift shop! Many elementary schools in California are trying to help as well, and have planted milkweed gardens on their campuses. Long Live the Monarch!