Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument is Great for Families
Connie Goldin ©2010, Mom to Madre
Southern California has been wonderfully wet for the past week. Living in a semi-arid area has its blessings and its concerns. Having enough water for the population is one of them. This week, however, the rain has soaked the earth, perked up the plants, and given everyone a sense of renewal.
Yesterday, during a break from the rain, I decided to go to the Cabrillo National Monument for a panoramic view of San Diego County and beyond, into Mexico. What a treasure this park is to San Diegans, like me, and to visitors from all over the world. It is at the end of Point Loma, which is a peninsula that juts into the ocean and marks the entrance to the San Diego Bay. At the tip of the peninsula, at 422 feet above sea level, sits the original San Diego Lighthouse built in 1855. At the bottom, along the coast is the functioning lighthouse run by the U.S. Coast guard.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Coast Guard lighthouse when the Captain’s home was on a church home tour. The compound sits at the end of the point and the location is dramatic. The coast has a curve that makes the sea somehow more powerful. There is a surfing spot near there that experienced surfers access by boat, called Ralph’s. At certain times, Ralph’s gets huge waves, much to the local surfers’ delight.
It is a rugged spot, that must have been treacherous over the years to boats aiming for the bay. The fog horn sounds loudly and the light beam penetrates the fog and darkness to assist the ships and boats of all sizes that enter the bay. It was a treat to tour the very simple, small Captain’s family quarters built around 1913 and imagine what it must be like to experience a storm at that location. Here is a link to the Coast Guard Lighthouse:
Point Loma’s Cabrillo National Monument is an important habitat for wildlife. It is a stopping off point for migrating birds, and is a favorite spot for bird watchers. I am a fan of hawks and I love spotting and watching the Red-Tailed Hawks soar. Look up at the tops of the Cypress trees, when you visit-I have seen several hawks this way, just checking out the scene from on high!
Yesterday, I was happy to see a Spotted Towhee pair, A western Scrub Jay, and a beautiful red-chested House Finch. There is a watering spot for birds, located amongst vegetation that birders often check because it is a good picture- taking site. If you ask the rangers at the park entrance, they will give you directions.
In addition to birds, the area is home to little foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, small rodents and reptiles. I saw a little tiny Garter snake once. Luckily, I have never seen a Rattlesnake, but I know they are out there. I have never seen any wildlife other than ground squirrels and rodents, but the rangers say they see their droppings, and hear the foxes yelp at dusk.
The ocean has abundant life in the tidepools, which are accessible to the public. The sea birds are all along the coast. In fact, the area by the functioning lighthouse is called Pelican Point. It is possible to see the spouts of migrating gray whales, during January and February, out beyond the kelp beds.
The Cabrillo National Monument is a fantastic place to visit for families with children. It is wonderful for people of all ages and most areas are accessible by wheelchair. There is a fee per car of $5, or $3 per bike or for a pedestrian, and various annual passes are available. For $15 a person can buy a pass for unlimited visits, and two people can use the pass. No dogs are allowed (except at the tidepools, on a 6 foot leash) and during warm months, it is too hot to leave a dog in the car.
I hope that you have a chance to visit this wonderful San Diego jewel. You will enjoy the magnificent views, the aircraft from North Island, and all the ships that come into the bay. If you are really lucky, you might even see a submarine, surfaced and returning home. It is worth the entrance fee and more! Remember to look up at the tree tops-a hawk may be peering down at you!