Plan Like a Park Ranger - Top 10 Tips for Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

A smiling female park ranger with a lighthouse in the background
Plan Like a Park Ranger

NPS Photo/ C. Aurrecoechea

#1. Planning a Trip to the Park?

There’s an App for That! Cabrillo park rangers created content for the National Park Service Mobile App. This app not only helps you learn more about Cabrillo National Monument, but any national park unit in the system! Our content includes maps of the park and guided audio tours. Bring a park ranger with you in your pocket by downloading the app today!

#2. Avoid the Crowds

Cabrillo National Monument is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike and can get very crowded at times. Wait times at the entrance station can be up to an hour long on our busiest days. To avoid the crowds, follow these tips:

  • Come between the hours of 9:00 am – 11:00 am or 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

  • Avoid holidays or traditionally busy weekends.

  • Avoid coming on a low tide day (unless you are here for the tidepools, then arrive as close to opening as possible to secure parking).

#3. Dare to Prepare

It’s fun to visit new places spontaneously, it adds adventure to any outing! However, unprepared visitors are also more likely to get injured, lost, or not have a very good time at all. So the staff at Cabrillo National Monument have a dare for you! We dare you to prepare! You can ensure that you have a smooth, fun trip by figuring out the following before you come to the park: hours of operation, where the restrooms and drinking fountains are located, closest emergency services, important park updates, rules and regulations, and potential risk factors. All of this can be found on our official park website or on the mobile app!

#4. Visit the Visitor Center

Most parks have a visitor center or kiosk where you can go to get oriented to the park, find information that will guide your visit, and learn more about the area you are visiting. The visitor center at Cabrillo National Monument has informational brochures in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and many other languages. There are maps for you to get the lay of the land, you can pick up a Junior Ranger book and badge, get your NPS passport stamp, and there is usually a ranger or volunteer close by to answer any questions you might have. The visitor center is your one stop shop for information, orientation, and education!

#5. Explore! Learn! Protect!

This is the motto of the National Park Service Junior Ranger program. Most units of the NPS have junior ranger programs, and most are free (some cost a small fee). They are a great way to learn more about the park you are visiting. You even earn a cool badge after! Both kids and kids at heart are encouraged to become junior rangers! The book and badge are free at Cabrillo National Monument and can be picked up with a ranger or volunteer at the visitor center desk.

#6. Blue and Gray Will Guide Your Way

If you have a question or need any help during your visit, park rangers (wearing gray shirts, green pants, and iconic park ranger hats) or volunteers (wearing blue shirts and tan colored ballcaps) can help! Park rangers and volunteers can be found roving near points of interest or at the visitor center desk.

#7. A Park For All People!

Cabrillo National Monument is YOUR park. We have worked hard to provide easy access for everyone to enjoy their visit to the park. Please click on the links below to find out how we can best serve you.

#8. Become a Citizen Scientist!

What’s that beautiful flower? Who’s making that noise? Learn about nature as you get outside with the free app iNaturalist! Just point, shoot, upload, and let a global community of nature geeks help you identify what you see and hear. One of the best parts? Your observations are contributing to science! Researchers access this information to help them in their studies. You can even join specific projects like Cabrillo’s own Pollinatorpalooza, which is running through the end of September, 2021. Just head to the app store to download iNaturalist and check out “2021 Pollinatorpalooza at Cabrillo National Monument” in the projects tab.

#9. Get the Inside Scoop

The best way to get the inside scoop at any national park is to join a guided tour! Call ahead or inquire at the visitor center when guided tours occur. They come in all different shapes and sizes; from 15 minute patio talks, to hour long walking tours, to interactive displays. The best part is that you get to interact with a ranger or volunteer and ask them questions to help guide your visit!

#10. Bark Rangers

To get the most out of your visit to the park, we suggest leaving your furry friends at home. Pets are only allowed along the Coastal Trail in the tidepool area. They are not allowed in the tidepools themselves or the upper monument area where you will find the visitor center, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, Bayside Trail, and all exhibits. A visit to any of these places would require you to leave pets in your vehicle, which can get hot and potentially dangerous for them.

Cabrillo National Monument

Last updated: January 27, 2024