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Home National & State Parks California California’s Mendocino Coast Readies March Whale Watching Festivals

California’s Mendocino Coast Readies March Whale Watching Festivals

Annual Gray Whale Migration Feted with wine and microbrew tastings, art exhibits

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March is whale-watching month along California's northern Mendocino Coast, and this year promises lots of fun for visitors who want to combine watching with a lot of celebrating.

Whale watching in March is all about the migration of the Eastern Pacific Gray Whale from the protected lagoons of western Baja California to their ancestral feeding grounds in the cold waters of the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

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According to California State Parks experts, the migrating whales, numbering 18,000 - 23,000, pass by the Mendocino Coast twice each year. They head south between the months of December, January and February, and return north between the months of February and April.

Whale celebration activities for 2010 are planned at three state parks in unison with the Mendocino Whale Festival (March 6 and 7), the Little River Whale Festival (March 12, 13 and 14) and the Fort Bragg Whale Festival (March 19, 20 and 21).

For a detail listing of Mendocino Coast community events, things to do and visitor discounts, visit the Web site at
www.mendowhale.com .

The state park activities are centered on three spectacular whale viewing vantage points: MacKerricher State Park north of Fort Bragg, Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, and the Ford House Visitor Center at Mendocino Headlands State Park.

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While the parks offer several programs during the month, including Whale walks and docent presentations, each park also offers special events to mark the whale migration.

For specific programs, visit each park's web site.

MacKerricher State Park

Located three miles north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, MacKerricher State Park's 2010 Whale Festival is a popular ‘Must-Attend' event to be held on March 19, 20 and 21 at this free, day-use park.

An ideal location for watching migrating whales, MacKerricher provides a wheelchair accessible boardwalk, allowing an easy traverse across the headlands to a deck situated on Laguna Point near the whale route.

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A rare, reconstructed Gray Whale skeleton is on permanent display near the visitor center and Entry Kiosk. The skeleton is a composite of two whales that beached on the Mendocino Coast, two years apart. Humpback Whale bones are also on display giving a visual size perspective between the grays and humpbacks.

Visit
http://mendoparks.org/html/mackerricher.html, or call the MacKerricher State Visitor Center at (707) 964-8898 for festival details.

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park

Located between Mendocino and Fort Bragg on Point Cabrillo Drive, for a premier whale watching location along the Mendocino Coast check out the bluffs. The lighthouse was built on a point of land extending westward into the Pacific Ocean so that the Fresnel lens would be most visible to shipping on the hazardous coast of Mendocino. This same attribute makes Point Cabrillo a preeminent location from which to watch the annual migration of the Gray whales from the lagoons of Baja Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic Ocean.

Events will be held March 6 and 7 and March 20 and 21. For more information visit
www.pointcabrillo.org or call the Mendocino Coast Camber of Commerce at (800) 726-2780 or (707) 961-6300.

Mendocino Headlands State Park

Located in Mendocino village on Highway One, Mendocino Headlands State Park will hold its festival events at the Ford House Visitor Center and Museum.

Built in 1854 for Jerome Ford, the acknowledged founder of Mendocino, the Ford House has exhibits highlighting the area's natural and cultural history, including a scale model of Mendocino as it was in 1890.

For additional information, visit the Ford House online at
http://mendoparks.org or by calling the Ford House Visitor Center at (707) 937-5397.

Mendocino Coast community events range from the 28th Annual Mendocino Whale Festival, held March 6 and 7, and the Little River Whale Festival March 12, 13, and 14, to the 28th Annual Fort Bragg Whale Festival, held March 20 and 21.

All three community festivals include a range of activities, including the 14th Annual Fort Bragg Beer Festival, the Town Hall Chowder Tasting in Fort Bragg, the 6th Annual Marine Art Exhibit at the Mendocino Art Center, wine tastings, the Taste of Little River food tastings, concerts and other attractions.


 
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