Crystal Cove State Park
|Crystal Cove State Park|
The beach in Crystal Cove State Park
|Location||Orange County, California, United States|
|Nearest city||Newport Beach, California|
|Area||3,936 acres (15.93 km2)|
|Governing body||California Department of Parks and Recreation|
Crystal Cove State Park is a state park of California, United States, encompassing 3.2 miles (5.1 km) of Pacific coastline, inland chaparral canyons, and the Crystal Cove Historic District of beach houses. The park is located in Newport Beach. Crystal Cove is a stretch of coastal cliffs and a beachfront cove situated between the Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean just north of Laguna Beach. The 3,936-acre (1,593 ha) park was established in 1979. The entire park hosts a total of 3 miles of beaches and tide pools, a 1,400 acre marine Conservation Area as well as underwater park, 400 acres of bluffs, and 2,400 acres of canyons.
Up until the arrival of the Spanish Missionaries, the region was a series of native villages built around two different natural springs. The natives were then drafted to Mission San Gabriel and Mission San Juan Capistrano, which was later known as "Rancho San Joaquin", until it went into debt and was sold in 1864 to James Irvine, a financier from San Francisco, along with three other ranchers, however in 1876, when their sheep stock began to fail from drought, poor wool, and the increasingly competitive marketplace, James Irvine bought out his partners prior to his death. His son, James Irvine II, then inherited the ranch and began to expand the production of the land by leasing it to agriculturally diverse farmers, and formed "The Irvine Company" in 1894. Being a favorite spot to James Irvine II, he allowed his friends and family as well as employees to build cottages on the area that we now refer to as Crystal Cove. As cottages began to undergo renovations and become more permanent residences, the owners were offered a choice by the Irvine Company to either move the cottages elsewhere or to hand over ownership and allow them to be leased by the company. These cottages were developed by the Irvine Company and the location was called the Crystal Cove Community. In 1927, the Irvine Co. leased a portion of the area to a businessman who sold propane to coastal farmers and became a camping site named "Tyrone's Camp". Trailers replaced tent camping in the 1940s and in 1954, it was renamed El Morro. About 290 mobile home trailers on the beachfront and inland area were primary homes for some families up to four generations. In 2006, after 26 years of litigation, the California Coastal Commission, who purchased the property in 1979, evicted the tenants and demolished the El Morro Village mobile home park converting the private community into a day-use and overnight campground. The area was renovated to also include a visitors center for tourist information, dining areas along the beachfront, cultural center, museums and the Park and Marine Research Facility. The Crystal Cove Historic District, a National Register of Historic Places site, inside the park contains 46 restored beach cottages from the 1920s and 1930s which are available for rent. The house from the Bette Midler movie Beaches is located in Crystal Cove. One of the fun traditions at the restaurant in the Crystal Cove Historic District has its historical roots dating back to the 1940s. “Cove-ite’s”, Crystal Cove residents, led by Doc Shearer, who also was the leader of Los Angeles’s Shriners’ Top Hat Band, would salute the raising of Doc's Martini flag as Doc Shearer played reveille on his trumpet. That historic moment is re-created every day at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM, by the Beachcomber Restaurant to signal the official start of cocktail hour and the serving of Martinis.
Crystal Cove has long been a source of inspiration for plein air painters, a type of landscape painting that originated in France. Early plein air painters documented Orange County’s coastline, and Crystal Cove, in particular, with their paintings. In homage to the movement, one of the cottages at Crystal Cove is called “Painter’s Cottage.” The area continues to attract landscape painters. 
Crystal Cove is used by mountain bikers inland and scuba and skin divers underwater. The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers. Lifeguard services at Crystal Cove are provided by the California State Parks Lifeguard Service. Lifeguards patrol the beach year-round while lifeguard towers are staffed roughly Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The offshore waters are designated as a Marine Conservation area as well as a 1,140-acre (460 ha) underwater park. Visitors can explore tidepools and sandy coves.
In addition to the beach, the park has 2,400 acres (970 ha) of undeveloped woodland inland of the coast highway, which is popular for hiking and horseback riding. The park has a total of 17 different hiking trails that branch off of 3 centralized routes, and guests are allowed to use them for hiking as well as cycling and horseback riding.
The grounds are also available for camping. There are 34 different lots spread across the 3 designated camping areas. None are accessible by car, only by hike, and are for up to 4 people per site. No pets are allowed.
Wildlife of Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park has a registered 180 different species of birds that can be observed throughout the entire year, seasonally, or a few times per year. Some of the birds seen regularly include the Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Ring Billed Gull, the Common Raven, and the House Sparrow. Along with registered birds, there are roughly 26 registered reptiles of Crystal Cove State Park, and 10 of which are commonly seen by visitors. These include the Silvery Legless Lizard, Arboreal Salamander, Pacific Tree Frog, Red Diamond Rattlesnake, Gopher Snake, southern Pacific Rattlesnake, California King Snake, Side Blotched Lizard, Western Fence Lizard, and the San Diego Horned Lizard.
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- "Birds Field Guide" (PDF). National Audubon Society. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
- "Reptiles and Amphibians of Crystal Cove State Park" (PDF). The Californian Wildlife Region. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
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