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Exploring Crystal Cove State Park

Encompassing 3.2 miles of Pacific coastline in Newport Beach, Crystal Cove State Park offers tide pools, 400 acres of bluffs, a 1,400-acre marine Conservation Area and underwater park, and 2,400 acres of canyons. In addition to being rich in beauty, Crystal Cove State Park offers endless possibilities for recreation.

Recreation in Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cover State Park is popular among those who want to spend time in the water, on the water or on land. Popular with swimmers and surfers, the beach enjoys lifeguard services provided by the California State Parks Lifeguard Service. These lifeguards provide year-round patrol service, while lifeguard towers are also staffed from around Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

The offshore waters at Crystal Cove State Park are designated as a Marine Conservation area as well as a 1,140-acre underwater park. This makes the area popular among scuba divers, skin divers and snorkelers. Visitors also enjoy exploring the tidepools and sandy coves.

In addition to offering a beautiful beach and waters, the park features 2,400 acres of undeveloped woodland located inland of the coast highway. These woodlands are popular for hiking and horseback riding. The park also has a total of 17 different hiking trails to explore, all of which branch off from three centralized routes. These trails can be used for hiking as well as for cycling and horseback riding.

Camping is another popular activity at Crystal Cove State Park, with 34 different lots spread across three designated backpacking camping areas. These areas include Upper Morro, Lower Morro and the Dear Canyon campsites. Each site can accommodate up to four people and no pets or fires are allowed. None of the sites are accessible by car and, therefore, must be accessed by hiking in.

Wildlife at Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, with 180 different species of birds registered as being observed in the park. Some of the birds that are more commonly seen in the park include:

• Common Raven
• Greater Roadrunner
• House Sparro
• Mourning Dove
• Quail
• Ring Billed Gull
• Turkey Vulture

There are also approximately 30 reptiles registered to the park, ten of which are commonly spotted by visitors. These include:

• Arboreal Salamander
• California King Snake
• Gopher Snake
• Pacific Tree Frog
• Red Diamond Rattlesnake
• San Diego Horned Lizard
• Side Blotched Lizard
• Silvery Legless Lizard
• Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
• Western Fence Lizard

History at Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is also rich in history, with the Crystal Cove Historic District being a part of the park. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Crystal Cove Historic District boasts 46 beach cottages dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. 29 of these cottages have been restored, with 21 of them being available for rent. Among the houses in the district is the house in the Bette Midler movie Beaches.

In the 1940s, residents of Crystal Cove would salute the raising of Doc Martini’s flag as Doc Shearer, who was the leader of the Los Angeles Shriners’ Top Hat Band, played reveille on his trumpet. This tradition is recreated every day at the Beachcomber Restaurant at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm to signal the start of cocktail hour and the serving of Martinis.

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