If you are still looking for answers, please email us at questionsforus@elkhornslough.org.


General Questions

As May 25, 2017 Elkhorn Road is completely OPEN!  See the map for directions.

The access road to Kirby Park was badly damaged so Kirby Park remains closed until further notice.  For information about Kirby Park please contact the Moss Landing Harbor District.

Thanks for your interest in volunteering!

We have volunteer drop-in days for our stewardship programs every Wednesday at 10:00 am – these are usually plantings, weeding or working in the greenhouse. It’s a great way to meet staff and volunteers and ask questions in person.  You can email Katie@elkhornslough.org if you are interested and she will put you on an email list with updates about these drop-in days.
There may also be special volunteer events coming up. Check our calendar for events. These events could be volunteer trainings or classes for those interested in leading walks or working with our research program.  We also have public clean-ups, special stewardship projects on protected lands or plantings at the beach on our calendar.
 If you are interested in attending an upcoming training contact Amanda Ankenbrandt at the Reserve at (831) 728-2822.

The Reserve Research Program hosts one or two unpaid internships at any given time. They are very competitive positions as we get many requests and all of them are filled by college students who work independently in areas of their research expertise.

Please contact our Research Program directly with inquiries to: kerstin.wasson@gmail.com.

Recreation Questions

We do not rent kayaks at the Reserve. There are kayak companies in Moss Landing, Santa Cruz and Monterey that rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards and other boats for use in the Elkhorn Slough.  A quick internet search will get you started.


The Elkhorn Slough Safari runs boat tours of the Elkhorn Slough out of Moss Landing; contact them directly to make reservations.

Dogs are not allowed at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve.  We also ask that you do not plan on leaving your pet in your vehicle while you are visiting.  Our parking area does not have any shade.

Dog friendly areas

There are many areas (like the Reserve) that do not allow dogs due to bird nesting and other wildlife concerns. Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge’s Dog Brochure lists dog friendly areas in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

While not allowed at the Reserve, hunting is allowed in certain parts of the Elkhorn Slough during the waterfowl season. Please educate yourself about all the rules and regulations before attempting to hunt at the Slough.

Visit: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Moss-Landing-WA

or contact the Monterey Office of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: (831) 649-2870.

We have provided this information as a courtesy to you. You are responsible for knowing where these areas are, when hunt days and times are, what species are permitted, and when the season is open. There is no hunting on private lands and no hunting at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve areas of the Slough. Please also be aware of the many people who use this area for kayaking, birding and other recreational uses. Safety and caution is of the utmost importance.

As of 2013-14 season the Regulations are as follows (subject to change):

Moss Landing Wildlife Area
Type C Area 783 acres
Location and Access: Access by boat only. Located adjacent to the north bank of Elkhorn Slough, approximately 1-1/4 miles north of the town of Moss Landing on Highway 1. Daily Hunter Capacity: No limit. For information call (831) 649-2870.
(A) Method of Take Restrictions: No rifles or pistols may be used or possessed.
(B) Hunt Days: Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays during open seasons for authorized species. Campfires are prohibited.
(C) Authorized Species: Waterfowl, coots, and moorhens.
(D) Camping and Trailers: Not allowed.
(E) Special Restrictions: Closed to all hunting on New Years Day. The Salt Ponds are closed to hunting.

You can find more information here: https://www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/region4/mosslanding.html

  • The Reserve’s Visitor Center is fully accessible. They have accessible restrooms as well as an accessible Research and Education Lab. There is a short paved trail to an overlook area, but the rest of the trails are composed of uneven terrain not suitable for most wheelchairs and strollers.
  • Kirby Park has the only wheelchair accessible slough-side trail in the area. Note that the road to Kirby Park is damaged and may still be closed. Please check ahead before visiting. It is managed by the Moss Landing Harbor District.
  • Moss Landing State Beach has a paved road that is adjacent to the Slough for easy birding and otter viewing.

Fishing is not permitted at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Along with those restrictions, a large part of the Slough waterway is a State Marine Reserve, making it closed to all fishing and protecting all marine life and plants. For more information about Elkhorn Slough Marine Protected areas, click here.

Click here for a map of the slough showing the protected areas.

As of summer 2014 regulations state that “fishing is allowed in the area that includes the waters below mean high tide within Elkhorn Slough east of the Highway 1 Bridge and west of longitude 121° 46.40′ W.”

Permitted/Prohibited Uses: Take of all living marine resources is prohibited except:

Only the following species may be taken recreationally: finfish by hook-and-line only and clams. Clams may only be taken on the north shore of the slough in the area adjacent to the Moss Landing State Wildlife Area [subsection 550(a)].

For up to date information visit the Fish and Wildlife website: https://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/ccmpas_list.asp

We have provided this information as a courtesy to you. The information provided here may not be the most current. You are responsible for knowing where these areas are and what species are permitted. Please also be aware of the many people who use this area for kayaking, birding and other recreational uses. Safety and caution is of the utmost importance.

The Slough has abundant wildlife and birds year-round but since you asked: Spring and fall will bring more abundant birds as they migrate. Spring will also bring green hills, wildflowers and baby animals such as sea otters, harbor seals and nesting birds. Summer is great time to visit and escape the heat of the Bay Area. Fall is a wonderful time of year as well with abundant birds, sea otters, harbor seals and perhaps more baby otters.  We also love the weather in the fall – typically the fog of summer lifts and we enjoy a week or two of beautiful weather before winter rains arrive.  Our winters are marked by breathtaking sunsets, but it’s harder to plan ahead for clear weather.

We love kayaking in Elkhorn Slough year-round, but there will be differences based on weather, bird migration and even time of day. Always check the current conditions for wind and tides.

You’ll find restrooms at the put-in sites in Moss Landing and Kirby Park, but not along the way. Plan ahead!

Currently, beyond the put-in sites at Moss Landing North Harbor and Kirby Park, there are no places to haul out your boat along the slough waterway. The land along the waterway of Elkhorn Slough is owned and managed by many different organizations and private owners that do not permit people to land on their property. Beyond private property restrictions, there are sensitive marsh and mudflat habitats that can be damaged by trampling and sensitive wildlife that can easily be disturbed.

We do not permit kayaking within the Reserve boundaries. Check out our kayaking page  to see the areas where boating is permitted.  You can launch kayaks or other small boats at the North Harbor of Moss Landing, located on Highway 1.