Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve


South Coast Region (Region 5)

Orange County

Directions: Newport Beach. Hwy 405 to Jamboree Exit, or Hwy 73 to Jamboree Exit. (If traveling from south of Newport Beach, exit University from 73 and turn left. Travel about half a mile to Jamboree). Travel about three miles west on Jamboree to Back Bay Drive. Turn right onto Back Bay Drive. The Science Center is at 600 Shellmaker Road, on Shellmaker Island.

CDFW Lands Viewer

Map of Upper Newport Bay ER location - click to enlarge in new window


Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve is a 752-acre property consisting of salt marsh, mudflat, and marine habitats. Large mudflats with suitable loafing areas above high tide are extremely desirable for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. Sheltered waters provide foraging, spawning and nursery habitat for marine fishes.

For more information, call the reserve at (949) 640-9956 or the South Coast Region's San Diego office at (858) 467-4201.

For volunteer information, contact:
Newport Bay Conservancy
(949) 923-2269 | newportbay.org(opens in new tab)

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing boat Ramp Fishing Hiking Trails Information Kiosk or Visitor Center Restrooms Either Guided or Self-guided Interpretive Nature Tours Disabled Access - call for details

This ecological reserve is adjacent to or shares marine habitat with a Marine Protected Area (MPA). For the public use regulations for MPAs, see Section 632, Title 14, CCR.

Activities: wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, visit the Science Center, kayaking, canoeing, birdwatching, tidepool viewing, biking

Weather: Generally mild year-round. Bring a sun hat and sunscreen. Dress in layers

Back Bay Science Center: Only open during scheduled events. Admission to these events is free, and there is access for the disabled. To find out what’s happening, call the center at (949) 640-9959.

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

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You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Area History

The property was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 1975. Sedimentation is a natural occurrence in estuaries and bays, but changes in land use together with channelization of the watershed have accelerated siltation which threatens to destroy the Upper Bay. Major restoration projects in the 1980s have resulted in over 2.5 million cubic yards of sediment being removed from the Reserve, construction of two in-bay sediment trap basins and two upstream in-channel sediment traps and the implementation of the “Best Management Practices” within the watershed. The combination of upstream erosion and sediment control and in-bay restoration will allow for the preservation of the Upper Bay as a viable coastal wetland ecosystem.

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