Welcome to Cabrillo National Monument
Welcome to the Cabrillo National Monument Information Page.
Here you will find all you need to know about the natural history of the park.
Learn about the geology, trees, mammals, birds, or other plants and wildlife of the area.
History of Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument was originally established in 1974 as a U.S. National Recreation Area. In 2000 it was re-designated a U.S. National Park by Congress. It sees more than three million visitors a year, making it the fifth most visited national park according to the U.S. National Park. The park also offers an excellent look into the Industrial Revolution. It offers visitors the chance to learn about the Ohio & Erie Canal, which was a crucial part of trading and commerce in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Cabrillo National Monument also has a number of sustainable farms that provide a good look into the agricultural history of the valley.
Plants of Cabrillo National Monument
Maple, oak, birch, beech and hemlock trees. Look for many different types of wildflowers, including Ohio spiderwort, wild hyacinth, trillium, showy orchid, pink lady’s-slipper, purple wood-sorrel, violets, wild blue phlox and Indian paintbrush. These are only a few of more than 250 species that grow in Ohio.
Easily accessible for those with physical disabilities. Sloped and paved walkways, disability parking permits and wheelchairs for rent.
Biking along Cabrillo Memorial Drive and on paved roadways only.
Cabrillo National Monument is located on the shores of San Diego Harbor and looks out over the vast Pacific Ocean. Cabrillo National Monument does not offer any boatramps or other facilities specifically for boaters, but San Diego has a working harbor with multiple launches, marinas, chandleries and other facilities for boaters.
Visiting Boaters are advised to equip themselves with the standard tools of safe boating (local charts, notice to mariners etc.) and be aware of the shoaly waters surrounding San Diego Harbor.
There is no camping within the borders of Cabrillo National Monument. There are plentiful camping opportunities in the general vicinity of San Diego.
Fishing is allowed within state law. Only finfish may be kept. Required to have fishing license and wear in plain sight. San Diego has multiple deep sea charter fishing opportunities.
The Bayside Trail is a 2 mile scenic trail that takes you through coastal sage scrub habitat and offers some of the most spectacular ocean views in all of greater San Diego.
Cabrillo National Monument is a day use only park. Lodging options are readily available in nearby San Diego.
Pets are prohibited at Cabrillo National Monument except in the coastal and tidepool areas. There they must be on a leash no longer than 6 ft. Service animals such as guide dogs are always allowed.
Programs and Activities
Park Rangers conduct a variety of programs for monument visitors. Rangers conduct tidepool walks on most low tides, and give talks and tours of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and military installations.
Guided bird walks are available to the public on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Local bird expert Claude Edwards starts his tour at 9:30 am at the visitor center and embarks on a 90 minute walk looking at the biodiversity of birds in the area. There is no charge to attend these walks.
The park is now open from 9:00-5:00 every day.
For visitors who wish to drive through the park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is an experience to remember. Bisecting the heart of Glacier, this 50 mile long road follows the shores of the park’s two largest lakes and hugs the cliffs below the Continental Divide as it traverses Logan Pass. Numerous scenic turnouts and wayside exhibits allow travelers to stop and enjoy the park at their own pace.
Visitor Centers, Exhibits and Attractions
The visitor center is the best place to start your visit to Cabrillo National Monument. The “Age of Exploration” exhibit explores the history of ocean exploration around the time of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s first landing in what became known as San Diego Bay. Films and ranger-guided programs present interesting insights into the cultural and natural history of Cabrillo.
Cabrillo National Monument is one of the premier tidepool locations in San Diego. Ranger walks are available during most low tides. The tidepools are an extremely sensitive ecosystem. Visitors wishing to explore the tidepools are encouraged to inquire with a ranger or volunteer how they might explore the tidepools without putting the sensitive animals at risk. Tidepool visitors should be mindful of the wet and slippery conditions experienced around tidepools and are encouraged to wear shoes appropriate for exploring this habitat.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is a popular attraction of Cabrillo National Monument. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1855, but due to poor visibility was shut down after only 36 years. Today the lighthouse and structures have been refurbished and visitors are welcome to explore the lighthouse and come to appreciate the unique history of the lighthouse.
The Point Loma peninsula forms a natural barrier to the strategically valuable San Diego Bay. For this reason, the US government designated the area as a military reserve in 1852. In 1899, the War Department began building gun batteries across the peninsula. Visitors to the park can explore the military history of the park through interpretive exhibits. Fire control stations, searchlight bunkers, and base-end stations are scattered throughout the park. Many visitors also choose to visit the exhibit “They Stood Watch”. Housed in an old refurbished radio station, this exhibit shares the story behind the military significance of the Point Loma Peninsula. Ranger talks are commonly given on the weekends.
Weather of Cabrillo National Monument
The San Diego coastline generally offers a sunny and mild climate year-round. The ocean, however, can have a strong influence on weather conditions. Visitors should be prepared for cool and windy conditions, even if it is hot and dry further inland. A gray marine layer can develop near the coast at any time of year, but this phenomenon is most common in the late spring and early summer. Locals call these times “May Gray” and “June Gloom.”