Field Trip Information


Crystal Cove State Park is a busy and beloved spot and a desirable destination for field trips. We offer guided field trips, including hikes, walks, and presentations on a variety of nature-based topics. Our field trips are educational, interactive, and energetic. Please visit the field trip programs page for a list of our program options.


Reservations, for both guided and self-guided field trips, are necessary to guarantee space and receive a day use fee waiver. Because the park is so popular, with a scheduled reservation we allow a maximum of one school group, per location in the park per day. Available locations are Moro Canyon (parking either at the Ranger Station of the lower Moro lot), Reef Point, Historic District (parking at the inland Los Trancos lot), Pelican Point south, and Treasure Cove. If a preferred location is already reserved we will offer an alternative location or date. If schools choose to visit the park without securing a reservation the day use fee is $15.00 per vehicle, $50.00 for a bus of 24 passengers or fewer, and $100.00 per bus for 25 people or more. To receive the School Group Reservation Request Form please contact 


We have one educator per field trip and so, in order to ensure a quality program, we allow a maximum of 40
students per guided field trip with an additional six adults (teachers and chaperones). We understand that
bussing is expensive and sometimes it is necessary to fill the bus. That said, except for tidepool field trips, we
can offer two rotations (with our interpreter leading one class and a teacher leading another then reversing)
which can be discussed on an individual basis.


The most popular school program is a visit to the tidepools. Exploring this vibrant ecosystem, however, is dependent on the actual tides. We schedule tidepool visits when the low tide is 1.2 or lower so that the experience of seeing organisms is optimized. If the tide is much higher few intertidal animals will be visible. That said, the days when the tide is low enough during the school field trip hours are limited and so, we can only accommodate a limited number of schools for the tidepool exploration option. However, even if you aren’t scheduled for a tidepool exploration field trip most classes still enjoy the beach for free time and lunch after the classroom presentation.


All our in-class programs are curriculum based, engaging and interactive. We use abundant program aids including taxidermy mounts, real animal bones, skulls, pelts, and even puppets to enrich our presentations. We involve the students in critical thinking and problem solving by asking questions, playing games, and sometimes listening to theme related music. Ultimately, we strive to mentor the students so that they gain a lifelong appreciation for nature and the environment. See the Field Trip Program Page for a list of options.


After scheduling the field trip, the teacher who contacted us will receive a confirmation e-mail which will include a day use waiver and map with directions to the assigned parking location. In order to avoid confusion and since there are multiple parking areas within Crystal Cove State Park it is highly recommended that the teacher shares the map with the specific location with the bus driver. Because the park receives so many requests for fee waivers from educational institutions and because the park is so busy, fee waivers will not be permitted on weekends during the high season between April and September.


A field trip to Crystal Cove State Park will include some walking. It might be on trails, or most certainly along the beach, both which may be challenging or strenuous. Sometimes classes are scheduled at areas in the park that have steep ramps down to and then back up from the beach. Backcountry hikes generally follow a 3-mile loop with a lot of uphill and a steep downhill. Please be mindful of these concerns when scheduling a field trip and when inviting chaperones.


We have created a large assortment of on-line teaching aids for K-12 classes including videos, power points, and activities. Under Educational Resources see “Bringing the Parks to You On-line.” Many of these fun and engaging teaching tools will help prepare your students for their field trip.


With a field trip reservation, we waive the day use fee. For guided field trips we charge a $2.50 per student program fee. There is no fee for teachers or chaperones. We do not take credit cards but accept check or cash.


– Arrive at the park, use restrooms.

– School program/presentation.

– Walk to the beach from the classroom.

– Free time on the beach or (if scheduled) tidepool exploration followed by lunch.

– Walk back to the parking lot and leave at your convenience.


To qualify for a day use waiver please contact to receive the School Group Reservation Request form. We must receive the request within two weeks of your preferred field trip date in order to process a waiver. Once received we will find a location, approve the field trip, and send pre-trip details.


Crystal Cove State Park is designated as a State Marine Conservation Area which allows for limited recreational and commercial take. Absolutely no take is allowed from the tidepools. If you would like to engage in any scientific research including quadrats or transects you must contact Senior Environmental Scientist, Riley Pratt at