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Camping at Natural Bridges State Beach

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Basic Information

Natural Bridges State Beach is a popular coastal area located in Santa Cruz, California. It is named for its natural arch in the rock that stands along the edge of the beach.


The state beach is situated at the north end of Santa Cruz, at the end of West Cliff Drive. The beach itself is easy to access from the city and provides a beautiful spot for both locals and tourists to enjoy the picturesque Pacific coastline.

Camping Information

While Natural Bridges State Beach offers many recreational opportunities, it is important to note that overnight camping is not allowed at this state park. However, visitors can enjoy day-use activities from 8 AM until sunset throughout the year.

Day-Use Activities

  • Viewing the Natural Arch: The key attraction of the beach, when tide and weather permit.
  • Wildlife Observation: The beach is an excellent place to observe seabirds, migrating whales, seals, and otters. In the nearby Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, you can see thousands of monarch butterflies during their migration season, which usually peaks between mid-October and January.
  • Hiking and Nature Walks: Explore the area's trails to enjoy coastal scenery and educational exhibits about nature and wildlife.
  • Picnicking: There are picnic tables available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Water Activities: The beach is popular for surfing, swimming, and exploring tide pools. However, visitors should be cautious as the ocean can be dangerous.

Facilities and Amenities

  • Visitor Center: Offers exhibits and comprehensive information about the natural and cultural history of the park.
  • Restrooms: Available for use during park hours.
  • Parking: There is paid parking available within the park.

Regulations and Safety

  • Adhere to all posted signs and guidelines for wildlife protection and personal safety.
  • Glass containers are prohibited on the beach to prevent injury and preserve the beach's cleanliness.
  • Alcoholic beverages and fires are not permitted on the beach.
  • Dogs are not allowed on the beach to protect wildlife habitats.

Alternative Camping Options Nearby

If you're looking to camp in the area, consider the following alternatives, as there is no camping at Natural Bridges State Beach:

  • Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort: Situated along the San Lorenzo River, providing a natural setting for camping.
  • Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Offers a traditional camping experience amid old-growth Redwood trees.
  • New Brighton State Beach: Provides family-friendly camping with beach access and amenities.
  • Seacliff State Beach: Known for its fishing pier and the famous cement ship, also offers camping opportunities.

Reservations and Fees

For day-use entry to the state beach, there may be a parking fee. For alternative camping sites, it is highly recommended to make reservations well in advance, especially during peak season. Fees vary by location, type of campsite, and season.

Always check the latest status and specific regulations directly from the California State Parks website or contact the park's visitor center before planning your trip, as regulations and park conditions can change due to various factors, including seasonal wildlife protection measures and environmental concerns.

Map of Campgrounds in Natural Bridges State Beach
Campgrounds in Natural Bridges State Beach
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