|Pismo State Beach|
This site features California’s most extensive coastal sand dunes. Butterflies are abundant November through March. Eucalyptus trees here shelter the nation’s largest population of wintering monarch butterflies. Some years, nearly 200,000 monarchs cluster on trees at the North Beach Campground.
Torrey Pines State Reserve/Los Penaquitos Marsh
|Description: Rugged sandstone cliffs topped by the rare Torrey Pine are laced by trails that overlook one of the few remaining salt marshes in southern California.|
Wildlife to Watch: Moderate probability of seeing all birds, deer and dolphins year-round. High probability of seeing shorebirds and waterfowl in winter, and songbirds in spring. Marine birds are seen in summer, whales in January and February. Good place for dolphins.
Trails meander among wind-tortured pines intermixed with ferns and cactus, a place to watch for brush rabbits, bobcats, western scrub jays, and California quail. Hillside chaparral shelters California thrashers and loggerhead shrikes; great-horned owls and American kestrels hunt near the bluffs. Mule deer occasionally feed at the marsh, where pickleweed hides endangered Belding's savannah sparrows and light-footed clapper rails. Least terns, green herons, snowy egrets, and other waders feed in the lagoon, an important nursery for many fish. Summer’s elegant and Forster’s terns are replaced by wintering brants, surf scoters, killdeer, and plovers. Offshore, watch for bottle-nosed dolphins, occasional California sea lions, and California gray whales.
Ownership: California State Parks
Size: 2,000 acres
Closest Town: San Diego
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: