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About Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California

Natural Bridges State Beach is named for its natural rock arch located in the shore break. This is one of the most photographed beach icons in the state of California. The park also offers a monarch butterfly migration preserve and exhibit, picnic areas, hiking trails, an accessible boardwalk, and a memorable sandy beach.

Natural Bridges State Beach is a popular family park with lots to explore including tidepools at low tide. Consult tide charts to plan your trip if you want to go tidepooling. At the lowest tides it’s possible to walk out and touch the arch but climbing on it is prohibited.

Moore Creek empties into the Pacific at this beach and a lagoon forms where the creek backs up. This is a good birdwatching spot. The rock arch and the other cliff tops in the area are usually covered with birds too.

The park has several short hiking trails that meander through Moore Creek Wetlands Natural Preserve and the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, both of which are part of the state park. There are more trails in Moore Creek Preserve which is owned by the city of Santa Cruz and located north of Highway 1. This city preserve doesn’t have a parking lot of its own so look for street parking nearby (map here). Stop into the visitor center in the center of the state park for more information on the trails and different preserves (open M-F 11am to 4pm).

You’ll find Natural Bridges State Park on the western edge of urban Santa Cruz. The park’s entrance is located where West Cliff Drive ends at Swanton Boulevard. There is a free parking lot next to an overlook at this intersection but parking is limited to just 20 minutes. This overlook has a different perspective of the arch than the beach goes. It’s also an ideal place for whale-watching during the gray migration (Dec-Apr). You can easily walk into the park from this overlook parking lot. For exploring the trails and enjoying the beach, you’ll need more time and you’ll find more options along Cliff Drive and in the state park lot by the visitor center (day-use fee required).

2531 W Cliff Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Park Name
Natural Bridges State Beach, Moore Creek Wetlands Natural Preserve, Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve
Other Names
Moore Creek, Natural Bridges Tidepools
State Park
Pet Details
No dogs allowed on the beach or trails
Free parking along Cliff Drive and paid parking in the state park lot
Tidepooling, Birdwatching, Whale Watching, Sunbathing, Hiking, Photography
Rock Arch, Visitor Center, Trails, Butterfly Preserve, Tide Pools, Restrooms, Picnic Tables, BBQs, Lifeguard
Map of Natural Bridges State Beach
Santa Cruz, US
8:32 am, May 30, 2024
temperature icon 62°F
L: 54° H: 67°
Feels like 61.61 °F clear sky
Wind gusts: 0 m/s
UV Index: 2.4
Precipitation: 0 inch
Visibility: 10 km
Sunrise: 5:50 am
Sunset: 8:21 pm
Humidity 75 %
Pressure1015 mb
Wind 0 m/s

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1 review(s)
Very good0%
June 22, 2023

Lovely place. We’ll be back to Santa Cruz and Natural Bridges again

Bobbi M