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Gray Whale Programs at MacKerricher State Park


California Gray Whale. Photo by Nancy Black

California State Parks announces weekend whale talks at MacKerricker State Park! Talks will take place from January through March 17, 2013. Knowledgeable docents will talk about the annual gray whale migration and about other marine mammals seen along the Mendocino coast. Programs are scheduled to begin every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am.

Talks will begin near the visitor center at the main entrance to MacKerricher State Park. Docents will provide binoculars and a spotting scope to help visitors study whales and other fascinating wildlife found near MacKerricher’s shores. After meeting at the MacKerricher visitor center, groups will then drive to Laguna Point, where you will walk out to look for whales.             


A rare, reconstructed Gray Whale skeleton is on permanent display near the visitor center and entrance station. The skeleton is a composite of two whales that beached on the Mendocino coast, two years apart.

About the Whales: Migrating gray whales, numbering more than 20,000 individuals, pass by the Mendocino coast in winter and spring. Gray whale calves weigh about 1,500 pounds at birth. Mother gray whales milk has 52% fat content. A gray whale calf will gain between 60 to 70 pounds a day while nursing. A full grown gray whale can weigh up to 45 tons, as much as a fully loaded tractor-trailor rig.

About the Park: The park is the only one in the park system that was at one time part of the Mendocino Indian Reservation. It is the only park unit that was part of the Union Lumber Company’s vast timber and shipping holdings in northern Mendocino County. A small, independent logging and shipping operation began here, then was absorbed by the larger corporation. MacKerricher, known historically as Cleone, thus followed a pattern common to many of the small areas in the region. The park was officially opened in 1952, land was added along the Ten Mile beach until 1977.

MacKerricher State Park offers a variety of habitats; beach, bluff, headland, dune, forest and wetland. Tidepools are along the shore. Seals may be seen on the rocks off the park’s coastline. More than 90 species of birds visit or live near Cleone lake, a formal tidal lagoon. During winter and spring, the nearby headland provides a good lookout for whale watching. The park is popular with hikers, joggers, equestrians and bicyclists. Fishing is also popular at Cleone lake. The park has a wheelchair accessible nature trail. 

Location/Directions: The park is three miles north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, near the town of Cleone. The park encompasses much of the land west of Cleone and a strip of beach between Fort Bragg and Ten Mile River.

For more information contact call (707) 961-0471 or (707) 813-1370.

Stevenswood Spa Resort is only 20 minutes south, of Cleone, and MacKerricher Beach State Park. Plan on coming to the coast and enjoy one of our suites, dinner and relax and get pampered in our spa.

For dinner phone 707-937-2810 or online at urban spoon.

For lodging phone 707-937-2810 or online at reservations.

For spa reservations phone 707-937-2810 or online at Indigo Eco-Spa.

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