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Wilder Ranch State Park
Wilder Ranch State Park covers approximately 7,000 acres, with 34 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails winding through coastal terraces and valleys. Several buildings once belonging to the Wilder family have been restored. You can explore the history of early ranchers and farmers along the Central Coast through tours and living history demonstrations.
The site was originally the main rancho supplying Santa Cruz Mission, and later became a successful and innovative dairy ranch. The grounds include Victorian homes, barns, shops, gardens, and a historic adobe. Major wetlands restoration projects have attracted some of the original flora and fauna back to the area.
Dogs are not allowed at Wilder Ranch.
To learn about events in the parks and at the beaches, check out the Calendar Page.
From Santa Cruz, go north on Highway 1 about 2 miles past Western Drive and turn left.
The interpretive center has displays on the cultural and natural history of the park, plus a resource center where the visitor can get more in-depth information. A stunning mural by Marin VanDuyn covers the walls of the main room. The ParkStore/Visitor Center, in the interpretive center, sells many hard-to-find books on local history, plus other items relating to the cultural and natural history of the park. All proceeds fund park educational programs. Interpretive center and park store hours are Thursday-Sunday, 10 am-4 pm most months. They are closed Thursdays in December-February, and open extra days April-mid-June. Call (831) 426-0505 for more interpretive center information. *Due to staff furloughs in effect, please call to confirm operating hours.
- Picnic areas
- Food, lodging and supplies nearby
Horse camping only. There are six sites available; cost is $20 per night. For information and reservations, call 831-423-9703.
The cultural preserve and the Old Cove Landing Trail are ADA-accessible. Call the Interpretive Center at 831-426-0505 for current information on tour accessibility and parking, or learn more in the Hilltromper Wheelchair-Friendly Trails Guide.
Layered clothing is recommended due to changing weather conditions.
Volunteer Opportunity Available
Volunteers give heart and soul to the “Life on the Ranch” and other activities that make Wilder Ranch State Park such a fun, interesting, hands-on place to visit. Volunteer docents help with school group programs, present living history demonstrations, put on events like the annual Harvest Festival, help care for farm animals, lead hikes and building tours and host the visitor center. Wilder Ranch is especially seeking volunteers to help on weekdays with its “Ranch Kids Day” program, where school-children experience local history as they visit a host of hands-on stations led by docents.
Once a year, the park puts out an annual call for new volunteers to join their crew of “ranch-hands,” who bring the history of this early Santa Cruz dairy ranch to life. Sign-ups take place in the winter. Call (831) 426-0505 to request an information packet and become a docent at one of Santa Cruz’s most treasured State Parks.