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Every Kid in a Park. Initiative that gives every U.S. 4th grader and his or her family free access to 2000+ federally managed lands and waters. Educators can also participate.
Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge - Site # 315
The Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge boasts a colorful mosaic of coastal dunes, beaches, salt marshes, saline ponds, grasslands, and riparian habitats, and provides habitat for a number of threatened and endangered species.
RegionalRegional - worth visiting if you are already in the area. They may be located farther from populated areas or with more limited wildlife species.

Entrance to Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge.

Background: Salinas River Refuge is located approximately 11 miles north of Monterey at the point where Salinas River empties into Monterey Bay. The refuge encompasses several habitat types including sand dunes, pickleweed salt marsh, river lagoon, riverine, and a saline pond.

The area provides habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including the California brown pelican, Smith's blue butterfly, the western snowy plover, the Monterey sand gilia, and the Monterey spineflower.

The Habitat: The Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge boasts a colorful mosaic of coastal dunes, beaches, salt marshes, saline ponds, grasslands, and riparian habitats. During the spring and fall migrations, thousands of birds traveling along the Pacific Flyway flock to the refuge, seeking shelter and food in one of the few remaining wetlands along the central California coast.

The Experience: This site provides habitat for the federally-listed threatened species the snowy plover and the endangered Smith's blue butterfly. It also provides habitat for threatened and endangered plants such as the Monterey Spineflower, Monterey Gilia, and the Menzies Wallflower.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: Trails are level and flat. The Beach Trail, which provides access to the beach, is approximately 0.8 miles one way. The River Loop Trail is on mowed vegetation and is approximately 1.25 miles long.

Viewing Tips: Be safe and prepared. The climate varies in Monterey Bay throughout the year. Fog, rain, wind o unexpected temperature drops can occur. Check the local weather forecast before you visit and wear appropriate clothing. Sturdy footwear, water, and sun screen are recommended. Be prepared to encounter ticks and mosquitoes.

Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife. Use binoculars or spotting scopes for a closer look and observe from the sidelines.

Quick movements and loud noises will scare away most wildlife. Staying quietly in one location will let wildlife adjust to your presence. To minimize the disturbance of nesting plovers, stay on the beach for shorter periods of time during the spring and summer, or stay in the area of wet sand. Your presence may keep adult snowy plovers away from their nests or chicks for a significant amount of time.

Be aware of sounds and smells. Often you will hear more than you will see.

Leave young animals alone. Even though you may think they are abandoned, a parent is probably close by waiting for you to leave.

For the protection of plants and wildlife, respect closed-area signs.

Site Notes: Salinas River Refuge is open to the public though there are no facilities beyond a parking lot and footpaths. Those willing to walk from the parking lot to the beach are rewarded with beautiful scenery and an excellent presentation of native dune vegetation.

Dogs, horseback riding, and camping are not permitted due to the sensitivity of the habitat. Please contact the Refuge for other restrictions.

Nearby Viewing Sites: Marina State Beach

Festivals & Events: The Monterey Bay Birding Festival is held in September of each year in nearby Watsonville.

Visitor Information: Marina Chamber of Commerce - 831 384-9155 - http://www.marinachamber.com/
Viewing Site Hours of Operation are:
Staff On-site: No
Open: Sun,Mon,Tues,Wed,Thur,Fri,Sat
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Year Round: Yes

Road Information:   Dirt. 
Road Hazards: No special hazards
 Number of Parking Spaces: 15
Parking Fee: No
Proximity to viewing area:0
 Pull-Through Parking: No
Parking Notes: Road to the parking lot is a farm road, and there may be heavy equipment utilizing the road.

Special Tips: The last portion of Del Monte Blvd is dirt. This shows as "Neponset Road" in Google Maps.

How to Get There: From Monterey:Go north on U.S. Highway 1 approximately 11 miles to exit 412 for Del Monte Blvd. (first exit after Reservation Rd.) Go left on Del Monte which becomes a dirt road. The dirt road ends in the refuge parking lot.
 

Contact Information
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Agency Site URL: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/salinas_river
Physical Address:Off U.S. Highway 1
Castroville, CA 95012
Mailing Address:1 Marshlands Road
Fremont, CA 94555
Manager Phone:510/792-0222 Contact Us:by Email
Site Phone:510/792-0222
County: Monterey
Addition Website:  http://www.fws.gov/refuge/don_edwards_san_francisco_bay