Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
4.5
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A wildlife reserve that offers visitors walking trails and kayak tours through salt marshes and tidal flats.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
282 reviews
Excellent
219
Very good
47
Average
14
Poor
2
Terrible
0

Theresa A
30 contributions
Mar 2022
This was absolutely beautiful. We had a tour with one of the naturalists and went through the various ecosystems in the reserve. It was a relatively moderate hike of about an hour and a half with many stops to discuss the research and the various ecosystems. It was interesting to learn the history of the land having been a hunting lodge as well as a dairy farm. We could see the estuary where we'd kayaked earlier in the day. It was a little disappointing that the visitor center was still closed due to COVID but certainly understandable. Otherwise, the staff were accessible and very helpful.
Written March 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Warren G W
Rainier, OR1,654 contributions
Jul 2022
We spent several hours here on the trails and boardwalks, watching harbor seals (mating!), pelicans, terns, seagulls, cormorants; and, of course ... sea otters. It is a very condensed view of much of the wildlife along the central California coast. Well worth the time spent.
Written July 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

david b
Quebec City, Canada32 contributions
Apr 2022
We went for a short walk in Elkhorn Slough after a morning whale watching tour. We were there at low tide. Lots of birds feeding in the marsh. Lots of birds round about. The wood peckers were particularly impressive. Saw maybe 20 people on a two hour visit. The guide at the main office was great.
Written April 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

aussieshepmom
Windsor, CA90 contributions
Apr 2023 • Couples
We stopped by on our way home from our Monterey trip. Hoping to hike and see wildlife but after hiking 5 miles on the trails ….. nothing spectacular to report. Some birds in the distance. We saw a snake, a duck, a hawk. We did see lots of flowers this time of year. But it is pretty and we understand timing is important. When we drove in we saw lots of birds in the marsh on the road but not in the slough, lol. I’ve seen great reviews and sightings and pictures but just wasn’t our experience. But it’s a cool place and if you come at the right time or season, I bet your experience will be fantastic. We’re still glad we stopped by and did a hike!
Written April 14, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Shelly A
Walnut Creek, CA48 contributions
Aug 2021
Great place to kayak, paddleboard and canoe. We have seen many otters and otter babies, seals, pelicans, jelly fish, egrets, as well as several other bird species.
Be sure to check the tides and current before setting out.
Written September 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Martha R
2 contributions
Jul 2023
This was our first time on your boat and it was very fun! Nice and relaxing ride through the slough. Saw many Sea Otters along with a number of sea birds and of course Sea Lions. We WILL be back!
Written July 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ferd B
Scotts Valley101 contributions
Apr 2016 • Solo
I went for a very nice walk here. The trail I went on was about 4.5 miles and had a total elevation change of about 190'. They do have Docents, but I did it by myself in about 2 hours. I did pause to take a couple of hundred pictures. Be sure you take water with you, especially if it is a warm day. I am 75 years old and my legs were tired by the end of the walk.
Written April 30, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

IN_Travelers47906
West Lafayette, IN4,721 contributions
May 2018 • Couples
(5) Elkhorn Slough National Estuary

This is THE place to see harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters and dozens of pelicans and other water birds in their natural habitat. The slough is a beautiful and peaceful area with calm water for enjoying the best of what the Monterey Bay has to offer. Of course, you can walk the trails, or you can take either of these three options.

1. It is an easy 30-minute drive from either the Monterey Peninsula or Santa Cruz to Moss Landing Marina to see the harbor seals and nesting cormorants, then drive ½ mile north on Hwy 1 (Cabrillo Highway) to Jerry Road and drive about another half mile to the Moss Landing View Point. There is plenty of parking space and you will be overlooking the area where sea otters hang out by the dozen. A pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens will enable you to watch them up close and personal. HINT: Be sure to walk over the sand dunes directly across the road from the viewpoint. Beautiful Moss Landing State Beach is on the other side of the dunes. DON’T MISS IT!

2. Rent a kayak. There are two rental agencies along Hwy 1 between the marina and Jerry Road. The water in the slough is very protected and calm, so navigation is easy. To good thing is you can get almost as close to the wildlife as you want, and the bad thing is that you can get almost as close to the wildlife as you want. Be respectful of the wildlife and give them space so that your presence doesn’t alter their behavior.

3. Take the tour offered by the Elkhorn Sough Safari. You must pre-register on-line for a place on a tour. Their 90-minute tours are for about 24 people each in an open pontoon-type boat. They do a nice job of getting you to the wildlife and provide a wealth of information.
Written June 14, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

divegirlelaine
El Cerrito, CA243 contributions
Dec 2015 • Couples
A lot of people visit Elkhorn Slough when in the Moss Landing/Monterey area as it is rightly famous for its otters and other mammals and extensive birdlife. You can rent kayaks in Moss Landing near the mouth of the Slough and experience all of that up close and personal, and that is highly recommended. There are also two places where you can experience different looks of this fascinating environment if you are not inclined to kayak. The Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is a bit off the beaten path. To get to this area, take Dolan Road off of Highway 1 and follow it until you hit Elkhorn Road and take a left. It’s a bit of a drive, but you will eventually find the visitor center for this area. At the visitor center, you pay your entry fee ($4.12 per person – cash only), and you can get information about the tides since a bridge on one trail is tidally dependent. Avail yourself of the restrooms here if you intend to do some or all of the trails.

The most popular trails are three loops that explore various fingers of the slough. All go along tidal waterways and mudflats that provide access to seasonal birds. If you do all three of the loops, the total is about 4.5 miles. We went in December and saw mainly bufflehead ducks, but also goldeneye ducks, grebes, egrets, great blue herons, loons, and an otter. We have certainly seen more birds in one area, but this is a nice walk through the woodlands with a lot of varied terrain.

Closer back to Highway 1, you can also visit the Moss Landing Wildlife Area, immediately to the north of the bridge over the Slough (on the landward side of the highway). This is a very convenient area for viewing a lot of bird and mammal life without walking long distances or taking the additional time to drive to the Research Reserve. You can park at the lot and then walk along the paths to some viewing areas and along the Slough and some ponds. The pond areas shelter the threatened snowy plover, which, if you are very good and very lucky, you may catch a glimpse. Here you will see otters, harbor seals hauled out on the shore, mergansers, pelicans, grebes, loons, stilts, and assorted other birds. You will see lots of kayakers pass by, as well as some of the tour boats (Elkhorn Safari and others). This is an excellent place to see some wildlife on a quick stop, even if simply passing through Moss Landing on Highway 1, but do spend a bit of time in order to see more of this treasure trove of nature.
Written February 5, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

wildlifetripper
Cincinnati, OH4 contributions
Mar 2014 • Friends
The Elkhorn Slough is a great place to see Monterey Bay marine mammals and water/shore birds up close and personal. You can walk the beach, kayak or take a small boat trip charter, wander along the harbor or lunch at water's edge. Our favorite trip is via Whisper Charters quiet electric boat tour (2 hours, $40 weekdays and $50 weekends). Any way you take in the Slough, you are sure to see otters, harbor seals, sea lions and a changing array of birds. Gentle whales and Orcas come in close to the Slough because the Monterey Submarine Canyon is just off shore. There is a small charge for the park and there are restrooms, but there are other places off Rt 1 you can park and not pay anything to just walk around. Moss Landing is nearby for meals. If you drive the road next to the power plant, you can get to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation property, where you can hike and see the Slough from land. Also very interesting. Don't be put off by the power plant next to the Slough. It does not detract from the amazing wildlife you are sure to see. Great place rain, shine or Monterey fog.
Written May 19, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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