Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

A haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is the largest saltwater marsh along the coast of California. The 1,300-acre wetlands with five miles of trails, provide visitors a chance to spot nearly 200 resident and transient bird species that use the wetlands as a critical stopover while migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Nature lovers can also enjoy seeing nearly over 100 plants and trees found in the wetlands. 

Come camera-ready and stop by the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Interpretive Center off Warner Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway to learn more about the wetlands, and for trail access into the 1,400-acre reserve. You'll also find trail access from a parking lot on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway, a mile south of Warner Avenue across from the entrance to Bolsa Chica State Beach. Both locations offer free limited parking for nature enthusiasts.

Tours of the wetlands are also given by different conservation groups: Amigos de Bolsa Chica and Bolsa Chica Land Trust. Bolsa Chica Conservancy holds twice-annual cleanup days and educational events at the Interpretive Center. Explore the wetlands, lowlands, and mesas, and enjoy a killer sunset.

Did you know?

  • 30,000 Number of people who visit Bolsa Chica each year. 
  • 8,000 years ago that Native Americans first made the estuary their home. 
  • Nearly 100 plants and trees found in the wetlands' five ecological zones.
  • 321 species of birds spotted in the past decade, making Bolsa Chica a birder's paradise.
  • 18 number of rare species that call Bolsa Chica home, including the Californa brown pelican, American bald eagle, and the appropriately named silvery legless lizard. 
  • 5 miles of public hiking trails, which include scenic overlooks. 
  • 0 the number of dollars needed to tour Bolsa Chica - it's free.