A National Monument in San Diego, the Cabrillo National Monument

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California is renowned for its natural beauty, so we spent 5 nights boondocking there en route from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on our way to Cabrillo National Monument.

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There is only one place in the US where you can find wild Organ Pipe Cactus growing in this Sonoran Desert park.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Anza-Borrego Boondocking
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park had no other RV in sight as far as the eye could see! Fabulous boondocking spot.
We stopped in at Cabrillo with the trailer on our way north of Los Angeles, CA, as boondocking options near San Diego, CA were limited and paid camping very expensive.

Due to the trailer we had in tow, we made our way to Cabrillo National Monument as soon as they opened on Tuesday morning in April 2019. Our arrival was about 10 minutes early, so we waited for the gate to open.

Located west of San Diego, CA, Cabrillo National Monument occupies the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula. Views of San Diego harbor and city skyline can be enjoyed from this viewpoint.

The site commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on September 28th 1542, despite its designation as a National Monument.

Cabrillo was described as an Iberian explorer by history. Whether he was Portuguese or Spanish has been debated. Nevertheless, the expedition he led with three ships in June 1542 would be the first European expedition to land on what was to become the west coast of North America.

Several presidents have given Cabrillo protection. The monument was originally allocated half an acre of land for a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo by President Woodrow Wilson on October 14th, 1913. After 13 years, in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge commissioned Native Sons of the Golden West, a Californian fraternity, to complete a monument. They also failed.

Cabrillo Statue
A bronze plaque was presented in 1935 in honor of Cabrillo’s accomplishments as a distinguished Portuguese navigator as part of major renovations of the building.

A 14ft tall and 14000lb sandstone statue was commissioned in 1939 by the Portuguese government. San Francisco International Exposition was supposed to host the statue, but it was late in reaching the site. Initially stored in an Oakland, CA garage, it was moved to the Naval Training Center in 1947 and finally installed at Cabrillo National Monument in 1949.

Eisenhower and Ford also expanded the Monument at this time, with almost 144 acres now encompassing it.

As a result of its exposed position, the sandstone statue was removed in 1988 and replaced by a limestone replica.

Cabrillo Statue
Cabrillo’s replica statue stands proudly before all!
Due to the cloudy weather in April, we didn’t get to see this monument’s flora and fauna very well. As we discussed with the staff at the Visitor Center, we quickly realized we were very much in the offseason.

National Park Passport Stamp
It would be incomplete if a visit to a National Park Unit didn’t include a stamp in our National Park Passport!
Flora & Fauna
At Cabrillo, a wide range of marine animals live in the intertidal zone and tide pools. The only time you can access these areas is at low tide. Furthermore, the tides were already higher during the spring anyway, as we approached a high tide. Ooops!

During fall and winter, the tides are at their lowest during the day, so the best time to visit is in the late fall or winter.

Whale Overlook Station is a popular place to see migrating gray whales. Since these migrations occur during the winter – December through March – we missed out!

Social Cali Digital Marketing Agency research ‘ll just have to go back another time, I guess! It was unfortunate that we had visited San Diego in February a couple years ago without knowing about Cabrillo.

Cabrillo Flora
Our only chance to see tide pools was along the cliffs, which were beautiful in spring colors.
Instead of seeing all of this wildlife up close, we chose to watch a film inside the auditorium. A short film is shown every hour on the hour.

It was just in time for the short film On the Edge of Land and Sea to begin. Perfect!

There was an interesting premise to the film, and we learned about different types of marine life that inhabit the shoreline.

Cabrillo National Monument can be explored in a couple hours during high tide. At the Lighthouse, you can learn about the history of Cabrillo’s original expedition as well as about the lighthouse that now occupies the summit of Point Loma.

San Diego Harbor
Across the San Diego skyline, looking west from Cabrillo National Monument.
Low tide offers the chance to explore the shoreline and its intertidal zones. There is probably no better time than late fall or winter to explore tide pools, so if you don’t mind cooler temperatures, I suspect you will have a great time.