Birds Commonly Found in California

California is ideal for finding those rare birding moments. Even if you’re not readily searching, birds are bound to cross your path; all you have to do is listen and look. From loners, to bird flocks flying across the sky, one is always met by a new bird companion. In San Francisco, the Northwestern Blackbirds perch on wires; along Monterey Bay, Brown Pelicans hang out by the pier, and falcons soar high in Yosemite National Park. There are 600 known bird species living in California. Here’s a list of birds commonly found in California, and the particular places where they were last seen.

 Stellar’s Jay



On one morning, a flock of them greeted tourists on their way to Bridalveil Fall. This crazy-looking bird can be seen flying around Yosemite Valley singing “shaack, shaack.” Their ruby blue and black color stands out from the mostly green coniferous forests of Yosemite National Park. Stellar’s Jay are abundant from southern Alaska to Pacific Coast to the Rocky mountains, through Mexico and into Central America. They prefer to eat seeds, acorns, fruits, frogs, snakes, insects, and will even resort to stealing from other birds. They are one of the few birds to use mud in their nest construction.

Black-billed Magpie



This species was spotted on the trail to Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park. Hidden by some skinny pine trees, two magpies danced around in flight above a fallen tree truck. In the eerie silence all you can here is their “wock, wock wock-a-wock.” Mostly black with a stout bill, white bellied, and a long tail of iridescent blue and green-black, the magpie is a beautiful bird to watch in flight. It eats insects, larvae, carrion, and lives in Alaska to western and central Canada, and northern California. During winter it travels far east to Ontario and Minnesota. It prefers woodlands, savannas, and streams.

Anna’s Hummingbird



These hummingbirds with their distinct “chee-chee-chee” song can be found along the west coast, often varying from desert to mountain, including bushy woodlands and gardens. If you’re lucky you can see them near Venice Beach roaming around the palm trees when the early morning strikes. Males are usually of the rose-red head and throat with the iridescent bronze-green body. Some interesting facts: Anna’s Hummingbirds consume more insects than any other hummingbird, and their hearts goes fast at 1,260 beats per minute, while a human heart only beats from 60 to 100. Luckily, breeding range has expanded due to the planting of ornamental plants. They usually feed on nectar, insects, spiders, and sap.

Prairie Falcon

Image: Mike Forsman

Image: Mike Forsman

This medium falcon can be seen soaring in the sky or perched on a cliff, singing “kree, kree, kree.” It has a pale brown back in pattern form with brown spots, and bars on its white chest. They eat small birds, mammals, and large insects. They are swift fliers with rapid wing beats. Sometimes they alternate several rapid wing beats with a glide. The Prairie Falcon prefers barren mountains, dry plains and prairies. It feeds on lizards, Mourning Doves, squirrels, pikas, and even pretty rosy-finches. They usually grab their prey by swooping at a low angle to surprise them on the ground.


Image: Jerry Kirkhart

Image: Jerry Kirkhart

This medium fly-catcher eats mostly insects, and sometimes small fish. It has shallow wing beats, and goes from perch to perch to catch insects in the air. The Black-Phoebe has a distinct sound of “seek, seek,” and lives in coastal Oregon and throughout California. Its body is mostly black except for its white chubby belly.  It prefers shady habitats, near lakes, streams, and even above a window. They are full-on insectivores, feasting on bees, wasps, beetles, grasshoppers, dragonflies, termites, and spiders. Males have a funny tendency: they show females the potential nest sites, but the female has the final say when choosing, and even does her own nest construction. The Black-Phoebe is known to be territorial and solitary.


Turkey Vulture

Image: Jan Arendtsz

Image: Jan Arendtsz

These birds have the keen ability to find fresh carcasses, so if you think you’re seeing an eagle— no, its just a Turkey Vulture waiting for you to fully tire out from hiking. How do you know its a Turkey Vultures? Generally, they soar with their wings raised in a V while making circles. Their sense of smell makes them successful scavengers, mostly eating mammals but also snacking on reptiles, other birds, amphibians, and fish. Though they prefer fresh dead meat, they do have to wait for their meal to soften to better puncture the skinand surprisingly they never attack living prey. They live along roadsides, suburbs, farm fields, countryside, and landfills. They are bigger than most raptors, with the exception of eagles and condors. From a distance they appear black, but upon close inspection, they are dark brown, and have white coloring under their wings. Resting on its body is a featherless red head and a pale bill.

For more on birds, check out  the Pocket Ranger® Fish and Wildlife Apps  available in New York, Alabama, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nebraska, and New Jersey. The apps provide bird descriptions, distribution areas, and habitat information, along with features like GPS mapping, a built-in compass, and distance indicator to help you plan your next birding adventure.

Top Reasons to Experience Boating

19th Century boating


Boating has been around for many years. Whether it is kayaking, canoeing, or being on a speedboat, it is something that you must experience to cool off from this summer heat. Here are a few reasons why you should experience boating.

Stress Reducer

Boat moving in water


School, work or errands can be stressful, but when you are out in the open water, it consumes all your attention. Stress can eventually take a toll on your body and it is important to stay healthy. The fresh air and Vitamin D will make you a happy boater!


Boating and water skiing


If you are feeling that you have no time to work out because you’re busy with your daily life, then boating is just the thing for you. Boating provides great exercise. Once you are on a boat, there are other activities you can do, such as swimming, fishing or waterskiing. You are also doing aerobics while canoeing, paddling or even kayaking. Boating releases natural endorphins, which are great for your health.

Bonding Time

Kids Jumping off boat into water


Recreational boating can bring your family together, away from the television and video games. Boating creates an atmosphere where you can create wonderful memories. It will also teach your family how to work in teams while docking and cruising.

Easy to Learn

Park Ranger Boating


Learning how to boat takes time and practice, but with the right motivation, anything is possible. There are many things you have to learn about boating including how to tie different types of rope knots. There are many park rangers at state parks that are willing to help and with your Pocket Ranger® app, you will be a boating expert in no time.

Water Access

Boat Ramp in state park


Water Access is closer than you think. There are many state parks that have places to dock and that provide boat rentals of your choice. With a short drive, you can enjoy your mini vacation. With the “Nearest Me” feature in your state’s Pocket Ranger® app, you can easily search for boat ramps that are close to home.

The View

Boating scenery with boat


No matter which state park you choose to go boating at, there will always be a spectacular view. If you choose a route with all water, trees or mountains, you will be fascinated. You will also have the opportunity to see other boaters, water skiers and even jet skiers. Boating is a great way to meet new people and introduce you and your family to other great water sports. You may also have the chance to see wildlife.

Pontoon Boat Fun


Many state parks offer boating, but to find one closest to you, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app. Our app offers GPS maps and boating descriptions to help you decide which type of boating fits you best. And remember to check out the Rules and Regulations for boating in your state park.  

Suggested Gear List: 

  • Kayak
  • Life Vests
  • Sunscreen

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and more!

Related articles

5 North American Animals You Might Not Know About

Some animals get all the attention. Like pandas. Pandas are great but what about pronghorn antelope? Can a panda run 55 mph? No. This blog post is dedicated to a few, lesser-known, but equally wonderful North American animals.

Ring-tailed Cat

A ring-tailed cat in Phoenix [Image:]

A ring-tailed cat in Phoenix [Image:]

When not living the glam life with its boa tail, the official state animal of Arizona is out hunting mice and insects in the deserts of the southwest. Though not actually a feline, the ring-tail ‘cat’ ranges from central Mexico to central California and westward all the way to Kansas. Despite their sizable range, the ring-tail is a solitary and nocturnal creature rarely seen by humans. For a chance to spot a ring-tail, head to any number of Arizona state parks—Buckskin Mountain, Picacho Peak, Slide Rock—located in the beautiful Sonoran desert.


Polyodon spathula []

Polyodon spathula [Image:]

There are two strange looking creatures in this photograph but the one we’re talking about has a large paddle-shaped nose. The American paddlefish, also known as the spoonbill, is a large cartilaginous fish native to lakes and slow-moving rivers of the Midwest. The spoonbill is related to the sturgeon and like the sturgeon it is valued for its roe (eggs). On today’s market, eight ounces of paddlefish roe sells for over $100. While stable populations can be found in Mississippi River states, the paddlefish is in serious decline over most of its home range due to overfishing and habitat loss. For a chance to catch one, head to Bull Shoals-White River State Park in Arkansas.

Pronghorn Antelope

North America's Antelope [Image:]

North America’s Antelope [Image:]

As the only surviving member of the giraffe-related group Antilocapridae, the pronghorn antelope is literally one of a kind. Pronghorn can reach speeds of up to 55 mph, making it the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Since there isn’t a predator that can catch up to a pronghorn, scientists think the animal’s remarkable speed evolved to help it escape an extinct species of North American cheetah. Therefore, the pronghorn has the unique and wonderful distinction of being unnecessarily fast. Custer State Park in South Dakota is a great place to see pronghorns in the wild. If you drive the wildlife loop during the breeding season, you might even see the males sparring.

Fisher Cat

 Striking fear into the hearts of porcupines [Image: ]

Striking fear into the hearts of porcupines everywhere [Image:]

The fisher, or fisher cat, is a small nocturnal carnivore native to the boreal forests of North America. Amazingly, fishers actively hunt porcupines. That’s right—they prefer to eat animals covered in needles. Fishers are actually quite common in the wild and several Northeastern states allow you to trap them. Sightings during the daytime are rare but if you own a trail camera you might be able to catch a picture of one.

Alligator Gar

Alligator gar from Tennessee [Image:]

10-foot Alligator gar from Mississippi [Image:]

Don’t be fooled by the antiquity of this photograph: the alligator gar is by no means extinct. Right now, hordes of ravenous gar are lurking in the brackish swamps and backwaters of the American south. They can reach up to 10 feet in length, weigh upwards of 300 pounds, and live for over 50 years. Unfortunately, it takes gar about a decade to reach sexual maturity, making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. They may be ugly and scary, but we need things like giant lizard fish to put us in our place every now and again. Village Creek State Park in Texas is a beautiful spot for canoeing as well as a known gar hideout.

  • Pronghorns released in Southeast Arizona
  • Halt Called in Paddlefish Harvest
  • Fact or Fiction: Debunking Popular Animal Myths
  • 4 Surprisingly Dangerous Animals in the State Parks

California’s Otherworldly Landscape

California stretches out from north to south, 800 miles of endless terrain and diverse geography. It’s home to a variety of ecosystems, climate zones, and wildlife. This expansive state has much to offer; its most notable ecological regions include the fertile lands of the central valley, the beaches of the west coast, the Sierra Nevada with its mountainous peaks, and the arid, inhospitable Mojave Desert. Exploration is inevitable, as each region of this otherworldly planet paints a different picture for the traveler, from one extreme landscape to another. So climb out of your spaceship and begin ascending!



The Northern & Southern Coastal Region

The coastal region, stretching from the Oregon border to the Mexican border, can be divided into north and south. San Francisco, Oakland, Sonoma, and other counties outline the northern coast. Along the northern coastal ranges, one can find the legendary redwood forests, in parks such as Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. These coastal areas are characterized by fog and rain (especially San Francisco in the summer). Napa Valley, to the north of San Pablo Bay, experiences mesoclimates, giving the region a variety of weather patterns that make it conducive for wine-making.

photo (2)

Napa Valley [Image: Cynthia Via]

Towards the Southern Coast, the sprawling highways and suburban communities outline the urban streets. But the most concentrated areas are near the famous beaches of Los Angeles and San Diego. The most common birds along the coast are California gulls, black-footed albatross, surfbirds, elegant tern, and the brown pelican, to name a few. The Diablo Ranges and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south of San Francisco are also part of this region. The Southern Coast is characterized by Mediterranean eco-regions with rainy winters and dry summers. The proximity of the ocean controls temperature extremes, resulting in warmer winters and cooler summers.

San Francisco [Image: Cynthia Via]

San Francisco [Image: Cynthia Via]

The Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada is a primordial heaven decorated with mountain streams, high peaks, and glaciers in the distance. Situated within the Sierra Nevada, Mt. Whitney stands at 14,494 feetthe highest peak in the U.S., south of Alaska. This region is also home to the famous Yosemite National Park. The Sierra Nevada has massive Sequoia trees along with an abundance of plants and wildlife. There are 400 vertebrate species, such as the Nevada red fox, black bear, bob cat, great gray owl, and peregrine falcon. It also has one of the largest alpine lakes in North America: Lake Tahoe.

sierra nevada

View from Seminole Dome in Yosemite National Park [Image: Cynthia Via]

Imagine 20 million years ago: this fertile landscape was plagued by volcanoes. The region was flooded with molten lava spewing out of the crevices of a young earth. Then the earth’s climate cooled, the ice age began and glaciers carved out the U-shaped canyons throughout the sierra. The Sierra Nevada boasts 200-250 days of sun, warm summers, brutal winters, and rugged terrain, which makes for a challenging hiking adventure.

The Central Valley

This huge expanse of land is known for its fertile production of vegetables and fruits; about 230 crops are produced here. The Central Valley was once a diverse grassland with riverside woodlands and seasonal vernal pools, but our agriculture needs have altered its landscape. Human activity and the introduction of exotic plants has replaced the diversity of species that once existed with livestock, ranches, and farms.


Central Valley [Image:]

The pronghorn antelope, the tule elk, and the kit fox, among others, were abundant in this region, but now many of these animals are either non-existent or endangered. Surrounding the valley are rugged hills and gentle mountains which contrast the area’s flatness. The valley may have originated below sea level as an offshore area.


A tule elk in San Joaquin Valley. About 4,0000 of them live in the wild thanks to conservation efforts [Image: Robert Couse-Baker www.]

Mojave Desert

Low precipitation and cold offshore currents which limit evaporation give this otherworldly landscape its extreme dryness.The Mojave Desert lies beneath the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Hot air from the Pacific Ocean climbs up the sierra, but is then turned back by the cold air in the mountains. Though some rain may go over the mountain, most of it is evaporated by the desert’s hot air, thereby never reaching the ground. The Mojave Desert spreads beyond Southern California, to parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Most notably, the desolate Death Valley, one of the hottest places in the Americas at 120° Fahrenheit, is situated on the California-Nevada border.

[Death Valley Dunes. Image: John Bruckman]

Death Valley Dunes.  [Image: John Bruckman]

The Mojave has numerous dry salt lakes, low mountains, and dry stream beds. It’s hard to imagine anything living in these barren conditions, yet it’s home to a variety of wildlife, including the coyote, kit fox, black-tailed jackrabbit, greater roadrunner, and speckled rattlesnake. The creosotebush, brittlebush, and California juniper are commonly found here, along with the endemic barrel cactus and cholla cactus. Around 225 million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era, much of the American Southwest was covered by shallow seas, as revealed by fossil impressions of marine creatures in limestone and dolomite.

Daniel Ardnt [Image:]

Kit foxes prefer arid climates [Image: Daniel Ardnt]

To explore California’s otherworldly landscape, as it goes from one geological extreme to another, is to begin worshipping nature. It may take a whole lifetime to get around this enormous state, but the point is to start exploring, one region at a time.

Stay tuned for Pocket Ranger® American’s National Park Passport, which includes the famous Yosemite National Park, and other parks in California.


Top 6 Nature Quotes

Summer’s a perfect time to cozy up to Mother Nature. The weather’s nice, the grass is green, the ocean’s inviting, and what better way is there to enjoy a weekend than by hiking through tree-lined trails? (None, is the answer. There is no better way!) Just thinking about all the fabulous things we can do outdoors in the summer makes us want to kick up our heels and get out there. But if you don’t feel the same way, just check out of some of these beautiful quotes. They may just change your mind.

Also, we previously did a 9 Best Nature Quotes of All Time post, and we liked it so much, we thought we’d give you a part two.

“The earth has music for those who listen.” —George Santayana

tree-lined trail


“Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

trees and stars



“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ―Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods


waterfall wilderness


“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”―Frank Lloyd Wright

pink sun


A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.―Michael Pollan, Second Nature

sunset weeds


“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”―Walt Whitman



What are your favorite nature quotes? Let us know in the comments!


G Marks the Spot: Gluten-Free Picnic Recipes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years, you’re familiar with the term “gluten-free.” Gluten is a name for proteins in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It’s the stuff that makes dough elastic. That’s why lots of people who eat gluten-free can’t eat breads, pastas, cereals, cookies, rice and cakes that contain gluten.

If someone who is sensitive to gluten or has celiac disease ingests gluten, it can lead to sickness and other complications.

Fortunately, there are great food alternatives for those who can only eat gluten-free products. Many restaurants are jumping on board and have gone gluten-free. But what if you don’t have the luxury of ordering from a restaurant? Well, check out our list of gluten-free recipes below! We even picked out recipes that suit your outdoorsy lifestyle. The next time you or someone you know is going out camping or on a picnic, tell him or her to try some of these delicious recipes.

Katrina’s Vegetable Stack

Courtesy of Karina Allrich at Gluten-Free Goddess




  • 1 large red or purple onion, peeled, trimmed, sliced into 6 slices
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cored, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers, cored, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, halved, sliced lengthwise, to make 6 pieces
  • 1 large yellow squash, halved, sliced lengthwise, to make 6 pieces
  • 1 medium-large eggplant, trimmed, sliced into 6 pieces
  • 6 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed, gills removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each: dried thyme, dill, parsley
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl combine the onion, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, portobello mushrooms.
  2. In a glass cup combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, dill and parsley. Pour the marinade over the vegetables. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, to taste. Gently toss to coat.
  3. Cover and marinate for one hour.
  4. Heat the grill to medium-high heat.
  5. Place the veggies in a grill basket (or spread out the veggies on a large sheet of foil). Place on the hot grill, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 20-25 minutes, depending upon the size of your grill.
  6. Remove the veggie basket/foil with vegetables to a large platter and set aside.
  7. To serve, create a vegetable stack. Place the portobello mushroom cap on a serving plate and layer it with a spoonful of lemon hummus. Add the eggplant, peppers, zucchini and onion. Top with a dab of more hummus, if desired. Sprinkle with fresh chopped chives. Repeat for the remaining five servings.

Grilled Chipotle Turkey Sliders

Courtesy of Jess Meyer at ATX Gluten-Free




  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 chipotle in adobo + 1 teaspoon sauce, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn meal


  1. Roll the meat into small meatballs and serve with your favorite pasta and sauce.
  2. Cook the ground turkey and form chipotle turkey tacos.
  3. Form the meat into larger patties and serve like a regular hamburger.
  4. Serve these delicious slider patties with grilled skillet potato-corn hash and grilled lime-paprika broccoli.

Asparagus Potato Salad

Courtesy of Dara at Gen-Y Foodie




  • 1lb potatoes, washed and cut into 1″ chunks, skin-on
  • ¼ lb bacon (4 oz)
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1lb asparagus, trimmed, washed and cut into ½” slices
  • 5 fresh chives, chopped (approx 2-3 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Par boil potatoes until fork tender, approximately 10-12 minutes, depending on size. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, saute shallot with bacon on medium heat 4-5 minutes
  3. Add asparagus pieces and saute for another 2-3 minutes
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar and oil
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, asparagus, bacon, chives, and dressing mixture. Toss well to combine
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Serve warm or cold.

Marshmellow & Strawberry Kabobs

Courtesy of Cassie Best at BBC GoodFood




  • 20 marshmallows
  • 16 strawberries, hulled
  • ½ x 397g can Nestlé Carnation Caramel (use the rest in hot caramel malted milk, see ‘Goes well with…’ below)
  • toasted hazelnuts or crumbled biscuits, for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Thread 4 long metal skewers with 5 marshmallows and 4 hulled strawberries each.
  2. Carefully hold over a campfire or gas stove, turning slowly, until the marshmallows are toasted.
  3. Stir a pinch of salt into caramel and drizzle over the top.
  4. Sprinkle with hazelnuts or biscuits, if you like. The marshmallows will be very hot, so allow to cool for a min or so before eating.

Eggless Tofu Salad

Courtesy of Bobbi McCormick 




  • 2 blocks (about 15 oz – I use Trader Joe’s brand and the sprouted is the perfect texture)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 1 carrot (or 5 baby carrots), grated – take the time to grate it, it’s soooo goood!
  • 1⁄4 of an onion (about 1⁄4 cup), minced
  • 1 cup vegenaise
  • 1⁄4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp brown mustard (halve this if you’re not a big fan of mustard)
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1⁄2 tsp each)


  1. Squeeze most of the excess water out of the tofu.  In a medium mixing bowl, crumble the tofu and add the celery, cucumber, carrot, and onion.
  2. In a small separate bowl, mix the vegenaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, brown mustard, salt and pepper.
  3. Add this mixture to the tofu and veggies and mix well.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.

How to Jet Ski

Two jet skis by shoreline


On a hot summer day, you may want to participate in a water sport just to cool down. There are many water activities to try, but if you haven’t experienced jet skiing, now is the time to consider it. Here is a simple guide to follow on how to jet ski in your state park.

Life Jacket

Different types of Life jackets


The most necessary accessory when going jet skiing is a life jacket. These come in many different sizes, so be sure to find one that fits you and test it to make sure you float in the water. Get a life jacket that is speed rated for strength so it doesn’t fall apart if you happen to tumble off your jet ski. Check out our Gear Store to purchase a comfortable life jacket!

Safety Straps

Safety Strap around wrist


The safety strap is attached to the key of your jet ski. This is used as an emergency shut off in case you fall off or lose control. When you pull it, the jet ski engine will shut off. Never allow the safety strap to wrap around the handlebar. The safety strap will keep you safe throughout your entire ride.

Hop On!

Couple on jet ski


When the jet ski is in the water, near the dock, get on slowly and try to balance your weight to keep from rocking side-to-side and possibly tipping over. Your hands should be placed firmly on the handles of the machine. Make sure that the safety strap is attached to your waist. At this point, engage the throttle and when you are still near the shore, maintain your speed at a lower level. This should be around 10 miles per hour, or even less.

Controlling the Jet Ski

Jet ski in water turning


Making a turn is probably the hardest part when trying to control your jet ski. The best thing to do is to practice the turns while still maintaining the lowest speed possible. This should be repeated until you are able to balance and take quick turns. For safety, the turns should be practiced near the shore to avoid bumping into other boats and jet skiers. An important tip to remember is to give your jet ski gas while making turns. This will help your machine keep its momentum and keep you balanced.

As you increase speed, the jet ski’s nose will rise slightly above the water level. Depending on the speed you are traveling, the jet ski might float in the air for a few seconds. When this happens, all you have to do is raise yourself a few inches above your seat to reduce the level of impact when the machine goes back onto the water surface. This is where the fun begins with water splashing in your face!

Taking a Fall

Man falling off jet ski


If you happen to fall off your jet ski, don’t worry. Your jet ski will shut off automatically because the safety strap will stop the jet ski from moving. There are no propellers on a jet ski, so don’t worry about getting caught in them. All you have to do is climb back on from the rear of the machine, reattach the key, press the green button, and you are good to go.


Docking a jet ski


When you are using a jet ski, it is important to know how to bring it back to shore. Approach the dock from a straight angle. Slow down to less than 10 miles per hour. Maintain a steady speed as you approach the dock and then line up the bottom of your jet ski with the angle of the dock. Speed up slightly and then build momentum to carry the front of your jet ski onto the dock. Power down and decelerate once you are close to the dock.

Important Tips:

  • Do not operate a PWC (Personal Watercraft) in shallow water, because sediments or aquatic vegetation can be sucked into the water pump and damage your PWC and the environment.
  • Operate at a slow speed and avoid creating a wake, which can cause erosion when operating near the shore or in narrow streams or rivers.
  • It is important to remember not to dock your jet ski in reeds and grasses because it could damage the environment.
  • Be extra careful when fueling your jet ski near the water; oil and gasoline spills are dangerous to the aquatic environment. It is better to fuel on land.
  • Never use your jet ski to disturb, chase, or harass wildlife.
Jet skiing in blue water


There are many state parks that offer jet skiing. Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to try out your new jet skiing knowledge and see Rules and Regulations for riding a jet ski in your state park.