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Visitation: 45,000
Area: 1,400 Acres
Lat: 36.817143
Lon: 121.728051
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Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve - Site # 74
The 1400 acres of the Reserve encompass tidal channels, salt marsh, fresh water ponds, riparian corridors, grasslands, including some rare stands of native grasses, and oak woodlands.

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation´┐Żs (ESF) mission is to conserve and restore Elkhorn Slough and its watershed. To see this mission through, we wear many hats in the scheme of things at Elkhorn Slough. As a partner to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, we support outreach, education and research. But our role as a land trust is the main focus of our work. We manage nearly 4,000 acres in the Elkhorn watershed and have been directly involved in the restoration of key habitats including tidal wetlands, coastal prairie, oak woodlands, freshwater ponds, riparian corridors and maritime chaparral.
PremiumPremium - the most significant sites, worth visiting if you have limited time. Premium sites have high wildlife values year-round, staff on site, interpretive programs and/or displays, and well-developed facilities.

Marbled Godwit at Elkhorn Slough. Photo by Max Allen: 257x386 American Avocet: 1024x804.57142857143 California Sea-Lions at Elkhorn Slough. Photo by Linda Muth: 1024x768 Sea Otters at Elkhorn Slough. Photo by Cindy Tucey: 800x533 Red-necked Phalarope at Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Photo by Nicole LaRoche: 1024x1536.1989895064 Red-breasted Merganser at Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Photo by Jim Duckworth: 1024x804.44030118322

Background: Rolling hills with coastal live oak and Monterey pine overlook tidal creeks and restored salt marshes in this outstanding Monterey Bay wetland, one of 27 national estuarine research reserves. Red-shouldered hawks, white-tailed kites, and northern harriers hunt uplands favored by black-tailed deer. The Five Fingers Loop Overlook is nearly surrounded by water and shorebirds, including marbled godwits, ruddy turnstones, and western sandpipers. Trees along the South Marsh Loop shelter acorn woodpeckers and spring-arriving hummingbirds, tree swallows and yellow-rumped warblers. Monterey pines serve as a rookery for great blue herons and great egrets. The marshes offer excellent views of common goldeneyes and buffleheads, deep water attracts double-crested cormorants, red-throated loons, ospreys, and brown pelicans. In spring and summer, pause on a boardwalk to watch the feeding behavior of leopard and smooth-hound sharks. Look for harbor seals and southern sea otters in the main slough channels.
A well staffed visitor center offers award winning exhibits that interpret the variety of habitats and species as well as a history of land use ranging from the former Elkhorn Farm dairy operation to current restoration, research and monitoring projects. Docent-led tours are offered Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00am and 1:00pm.

The Habitat: The 1400 acres of the Reserve encompass tidal channels, salt marsh, fresh water ponds, riparian corridors, grasslands, including some rare stands of native grasses, and oak woodlands. There are nearby expanses of coastal maritime chapparal, sand dunes and open beaches.

The Experience: One of the largest remaining salt marshes left in California. The Elkhorn Slough watershed is located in the middle of one of the 25 most significant biodiversity hotspots identified on the world map.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: Five miles of hiking trails over gentle sloping terrain, wheelchair accessible overlook with spotting scopes, bird blind, 3 board walks over saltmarsh and tidal channels.

Viewing Tips: More than 250 bird species, more than 115 species have been seen at one spot, on one fall day. High probability of seeing waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds in fall and winter, marine birds in winter. Look for songbirds in fall and spring, birds of prey are seen year-round. High probability of seeing sharks feeding in spring and summer. Estuary an important fish nursery. Five miles of hiking trails, paved overlook. Tours avilable. Visitor Center.

Site Notes:  This property requires the new CDFW Lands Pass. For more information, check online at: www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass

Nearby Viewing Sites: Moss Landing Wildlife Area,
Moss Landing State Beach,
Zmudowski State Beach,
Salinas River State Beach,
Watsonville Wetlands

Festivals & Events: Participant in Monterey Bay Bird Festival.

Visitor Information: Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau - (877) MONTEREY - http://www.montereyinfo.org
Viewing Site Hours of Operation are:
Staff On-site: Yes
Open: Wednesday-Sunday
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Year Round: Yes

Road Information:   Paved. 
Road Hazards: 
 Number of Parking Spaces: 70
Parking Fee: Yes
Proximity to viewing area:
 Pull-Through Parking: No
Parking Notes: Elkhorn Road is the main access road and is narrow and winding with few safe pullouts. Drive with caution.
This property requires the new CDFW Lands Pass. For more information, check online at: www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass

How to Get There: North of Moss Landing on Highway 1, take Dolan Road east 3.5 miles to Elkhorn Road. Turn left and drive 2.2 miles to entrance.

Contact Information
Managing Agency: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reser
Agency Site URL: http://www.elkhornslough.org
Physical Address:1700 Elkhorn Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
Agency 2: 1700 Elkhorn Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
Manager Phone:(831) 728-2822 ext. 302
Site Phone:(831) 728-2822
County: Monterey
Addition Website:  https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Elkhorn-Slough