K-12 Education Programs

Rancho del Oso offers both virtual and in-person school programs. The one hour virtual program is offered Mondays at 10am, although other times are available upon request. It explores similar themes and information as the in-person program. 

Our in-person exploratory day at Rancho del Oso takes your students on a journey through the seven distinct habitats at the coastal end of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. While hiking scenic trails we will compare and contrast different ecosystems firsthand through plant and animal observations and inquiry.

The day includes moderate hiking of up to three miles, observing native reptiles and/or amphibians and exploring our cutting-edge Nature & History Center. It is geared towards middle school age groups, and meets California Curriculum standards for Middle School Life Science. In many cases, the program can be tailored to your group’s grade level and curriculum.

Field trips are from 10am – 2pm on Thursdays and Fridays. The program works best with groups of 10 – 24. However, we may be able to accommodate larger groups by dividing the class for different activities.These fieldtrips include many areas of life, earth and physical science that align with the Next Generation Science Standards, including (but not limited to): MS-PS1-3, MS-LS1-1, 5, 6, MS-LS2-1,4, MS-LS2-2, and MS-ESS3-3

Components of the program  include:

Introduction: Overview of the agenda. Introduction to the themes of the day.
Waddell Creek Watershed: Students are introduced to the creation of Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the topographical features that create our diverse ecosystems.
Hoover Nature Loop (0.75 miles): Discover ecosystem diversity firsthand by starting amidst our large stand of Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata).
Marsh Trail (0.75 miles): Nearly 200 species of birds have been sighted at Rancho del Oso. Our Marsh ecosystem provides habitat for an array of plant and animal species.
Lunch: School groups can eat either on trail (during longer hikes) or on our picnic tables overseeing beautiful and often windy Waddell Beach.
Three-mile Interpretive Loop (>3 miles): School groups looking for a more rigorous challenge can hike deeper into the valley to see the redwood forest habitat and our famed old growth “Eagle Tree”.
Conclusion: Summary and farewells.

Groups bring lunch from home or school and eat in our outdoor patio. Restrooms and water are on site. Groups are welcome to arrive early and eat a snack or use restrooms. The museum, grounds and restroom facilities are wheelchair accessible. We will gladly accommodate your group in the Park Store if you wish. (Proceeds from Park Store sales support educational programs such as this one.) Most of our day is spent outdoors. Students should dress in layers.

Other Programs:
If this program does not fit your needs, we may be able to modify the program. Please contact us online or call us with any questions at (831) 427-2288.


To schedule a virtual or in-person field trip, please click here for the online reservation form.