Carmel River State
Beach in Carmel by the Sea, California is popular for hikes,
kayaking and sunbathing during the summer months.
Carmel River State Beach is one of several beaches in Carmel, CA. The neighboring beach operated by the city is
Carmel City Beach.
Carmel River State Beach is known for its lagoon. The lagoon
at the mouth of the Carmel River was formed as the result of the
opposing forces of the rive and Pacific Ocean meeting head on at the
shoreline. The longshore currents of the ocean are continuously
depositing sand on the beach at the river's mouth. Periodically the
sand gets built up into a sandbar and the river no longer flows
freely out into the ocean. Instead, the water flowing down the river
fills up the lagoon and backs up into the marshy area behind the
After a rainstorm when enough water is flowing down the river to
break through the sandbar, the lagoon finally begins to empty and
the river flows out into the ocean once again.
The brackish water in the lagoon and marsh is a combination of fresh
water and salty seawater. It serves as the lifeblood for the very
productive plant community of the marsh. The pickle-wee, saltgrass
and tule reeds provide food and shelter for a variety of animals
ranging in size from tiny aquatic organisms to large waterfowl.
The Carmel River also hosts the southernmost major steelhead trout
run in North America, with approximately 2000 adult fish swimming up the
river from the ocean to spawn each year.
Between the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and Morro Bay, a
distance of 160 miles, the coastal salt marsh habitat is found only
at Elkhorn Slough and here, at the mouth of the Carmel River. The
lagoon and marsh offer a rare glimpse into a type of ecosystem that
can be seen in only a very few places along the coast of California.
On Carmel Bay, the mile-long
beach features a bird sanctuary in a lagoon (just before the Carmel
River empties into the sea) featuring a wide variety of waterfowl
and song birds. Monastery Beach, or San Jose Creek Beach, is
popular with scuba divers. Ocean and swimming and wading are
Location: One mile south of
Ocean Avenue. Turn right on Rio Road toward the Carmel Mission, then
turn left onto Carmelo Street, to the parking lot. For more
information, check out parks.ca.gov
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