Marbled Murrelet and Peregrine Falcon may sound like foot-tapping bands at the weekly farmers market, but they’re actually the names of rare birds you may spot in Santa Cruz County. The region’s feathered friends extend beyond the gulls that cozy up to your bowl of clam chowder at the wharf. Situated along the Pacific Flyway — a prominent migratory path that stretches from Alaska to Patagonia — Santa Cruz plays host to hundreds of bird species. No experience necessary here. Just head to one of the spots listed below and see for yourself!
As summer comes to an end, most of us look forward to stunning displays of fall foliage, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and drinking our fill of pumpkin spice lattes. But there’s another reason to get excited for shorter, crisper days and less persistent fog banks. Fall is migration season along California’s Central Coast, and one of the top places for birds to get some much-needed R&R before they continue their long flight south is right here in Santa Cruz County.
Have you been to Elkhorn Slough? This peaceful reserve is full of beauty and wildlife, plus you can choose how to explore, via waterways or on-foot on the 5 miles of trails. Check out these inspiring photos taken at this natural wonder and plan your own visit to Elkhorn Slough!
Santa Cruz is known for its phenomenal wildlife viewing opportunities. Year round whale watching, birding, otters and elephant seals, and seasonal monarch butterflies have put Santa Cruz County on the map for nature enthusiasts! And now, visitors and locals can have a new and improved Santa Cruz County Wildlife Watching Guide right in their own hands – for free!
Famed for its ancient redwoods, cascading waterfalls, and epic hikes, Big Basin Redwoods State Park hides a lesser-known coastal region with an identity and landscape all of its own. Named for the grizzly bears that once roamed its lush grounds, Rancho del Oso is a hidden gem with a dazzling spring wildflowers, enchanting marshlands laced with hiking and biking trails, and a magnificent nature center housed in a historic home once occupied by the family of President Herbert Hoover.