Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz
A window to the Pacific

Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California

California brown pelicans, cormorants, and gulls enjoy jostling for position on top of this stunning rock formation in Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. It is the sole surviving natural 'bridge' in this state park. Once three bridges stood side-by-side here, carved by waves into cliffs that jutted out into the Pacific. This one stood in the middle, but the outermost bridge collapsed in 1905 and the innermost one disappeared in 1980.

The erosion of the waves is relentless, so eventually the final arch will collapse, and the birds will have to find another favorite perch. But there are plenty of other views on offer. The park is also a seasonal home to migratory monarch butterflies, which flutter through the air or cluster together in its eucalyptus grove. And if you're lucky, you might spot a migrating whale or see seals and otters playing offshore.