Fort Bragg-Mendocino Gateway to the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM): Tidepools, Seabirds, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and More on the Rocks

Some might say we have rocks in our head in Fort Bragg. More like rocks on our mind – that’s because thousands of them grace our beautiful coast.
Fort Bragg is an official Gateway to the California Coastal National Monument.
Here’s how the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior describes the Monument:

“Waves explode onto offshore rocks, spraying whitewater into the air. Sea lions bark as they “haul out” of the surf onto the rocks, and a whirlwind of birds fly above. These amazing rocks and small islands are part of the California Coastal National Monument, a spectacular interplay of land and sea.”

We couldn’t have said it better. But you may be able to, after you’ve enjoyed this simple pleasure.

The Stats: Located off the 1,100 miles of California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles between Mexico and Oregon. The scenic qualities and critical habitat of this public resource are protected as part of the National Landscape Conservation System, administered by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Watson Rock in Caspar SouthWhat the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Gateway Status Means – California Coastal National Monument Gateways are sections of the California coast that serve as focal points and visitor contact locations for the National Monument. Gateways can be areas, towns, cities, or communities that have infrastructure and interest in providing visitor information and services. The BLM is developing Gateway partnerships that follow the principles of geotourism, that is – tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
Gateway partnerships are a means to support organized local stewardship for shoreline regions through the development of a consortium of the area’s resource managers and advocates.

Gateways respond to a local sense of place for this unique and extensive monument. They feature strongly in BLM outreach and community relationships.

The intent is to use the CCNM partnerships to help enhance partners’ capabilities by being part of a collaborative initiative to share resources and expertise, leverage limited funding, and create seamless management.

The CCNM looking north of Westport VillageWestport – along a 15-mile stretch north, between Fort Bragg and the tiny village of Westport, are seemingly endless beauty spots featuring the CCNM. At Pacific Star Winery, a couple of miles south of Westport, you can even enjoy wine tasting with your view.

About six miles north of Fort Bragg on your way to Westport, is a tiny popular beach with lots of sand for play of all kinds and beautiful big rocks. It’s a photographer’s delight.


Ten Mile Beach – this is 10 miles of beach, cliffs and hidden covers that stretch from Downtown Fort Bragg Ca north through MacKerricher State Park. Rocks, island and associated wildlife — including tide pool animals — are abundant.

Pudding Beach Access to the Coastal National MonumentPudding Creek Beach – a beach for all seasons, a place for romance when its deserted and a place to run and play on sunny holiday weekends. The cliffs above provide a bird’s eye view of the monument.

Glass Beach Bluff Flowers in Fort Bragg CaGlass Beach – well-known for the beautiful sea glass found here, the rock formations are just as awesome.

Pomo Bluffs – all around Pomo Bluffs, a city park overlooking the entrance to Noyo Harbor, are great examples of what the CCNM protects.

Hare Creek Beach

Hare Creek – owned by Mendocino Land Trust, you get a small beach, which is a popular surf spot. Perfect for a picnic and rock watching. Getting there can be tricky: From Highway 1 go west on Ocean View Drive, left to south end of college parking lot.  Follow yellow rope and post fence to trailhead. 1/2 mile to secret beach.  Louisa Morris at Mendocino Land Trust can help with more complete directions.

 

Jug Handle Rocks in Fort Bragg, CAJug Handle State Reserve Beach – this small beach is the perfect spot to watch waves crashing against huge craggy coastal remnants jutting out of the ocean. A spectacular display on big wave days.

CCNM looking toward Frolic Cove, Point Cabrillo Light StationPoint Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park – features a lighthouse, two museums and 300 acres of nature preserve with some of best spots for watching giant storm driven waves crashing on our monument.

Agate Cove Rocks, Mendocino Headlands State ParkAgate Cove – is just on the north side of Mendocino Headlands State Park. It’s one of the real beauty spots on the Mendocino Coast; almost surreal during storms with waves and rocks battling for dominance.

Elk, California Coastal MonumentElk, California — without a doubt, Elk rivals Big Sur in spectacular scenery and big views. It’s located about 25 miles south of Fort Bragg, Ca on the Mendocino Coast.Aerial View of Elk, Calif.

Pelican Rock at Mendocino Headlands State Park
Pelicans are common along our section of the Coastal Monument, but sometimes, when food is especially plentiful, they “invade” in huge numbers, seeming to settle down on every rock, making nests and fishing for themselves and their young.

Navarro Beach, Navarro River Redwoods State ParkNavarro Beach, Navarro River Redwoods State Park – at the end of 16 miles of virgin redwood forest, at the mouth of the Navarro River, is Navarro Beach, where you’ll find camping facilities, great views and, of course, more of our CCNM.

In 2010 when Mendocino Study Club members discovered that our off-shore rocks along the Mendocino Coast were part of the California Coastal National Monument, the fun started.  President Clinton had proclaimed the Monument in 2000 identifying 20,000 rocks from Oregon to Mexico. To recognize and promote the Monument Rocks, Study Club had a “Stop and View the Rocks” contest with more than 200 entries. The effort was led by Ruth Sparks.

Study Club became a Collaborative Partner of the California Coastal National Monument in 2010 at a festive ceremony at the Ford House Museum with Bureau of Land Management Rick Hanks and MSC President Margaret Ward presiding. Now, in 2012, there are presently 3 Core Partners, 16 Collaborative Partners and one Steward participating in the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Gateway Area of the CCNM (from Rockport to Navarro). Many organizations joined because of the ongoing efforts by Study Club to promote the  Monument. The Fort Bragg PROMOTION Committee presently serves as the Coordinating Partner for the Gateway representing the City of Fort Bragg.

Curious about some of the places that had been named in the Stop and View the Rocks contest, member Ruth Sparks glued trail markers  on a 5 ½ foot wooden map created from the California Coastal Trail website map. The popularity of the big map suggested that a smaller paper map should be created. Study Club pledged $125 towards the project.

“Rock Walks” map plans went forward when $1000 was received to print the maps from the Mendocino County Lodging Association. When a map project vote by all Collaborative Partners of the California Coastal National Monument was not possible to achieve,  Study Club accepted the challenge to coordinate printing 10,000 maps as a Community Service Project. There are many Sponsors who have contributed to the map and we have the expert assistance of Rixanne Wehren, CA Coastal Trail Cartographer. “Rock Walks” maps will be a special party favor at the Installation Luncheon and available at the five local House Museums.

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