Wilder Ranch State Park

UPDATE (May 29, 2020) - As California State Parks begins working with locals on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved, it is important for visitors to continue to practice physical distancing and avoid congregating with people outside their immediate household. Everyone has the responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Here are some guidelines for people visiting Wilder Ranch State Park.

What is open now (Beginning Saturday, May 16, 2020)?
The main day-use lot at Wilder Ranch State Park is open with limited capacity.  Most parking lots along Highway 1 will remain closed.  Beaches will remain closed from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in accordance with the Santa Cruz County shelter in place order. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
  • Campgrounds.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?

Yes, please see below:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home. Walk or bike into the park. Parking is very limited. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.  
  • Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails.
  • Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors will be asked to leave if there are too many people at the park, beach or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered: The state now requires you to wear a face covering in most indoor settings and public outdoor spaces when you cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet or more from people outside of your immediate household. For details, please visit CDPH’s guidance here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.

Thank you for your patience and continued support of California State Parks as we work to limit your risk for exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. For more information, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

(831) 423-9703

Park Hours

Park: 8am - Sunset
Visitor Center & Store: Thursdays through Sundays 10am-4pm (Closed 12/18-25)

Dogs Allowed?

No

Driving Directions to Wilder Ranch SP

The park is north of Santa Cruz, immediately west of Highway One, just a mile or so past the Western Drive stoplight.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

TRAIL USE
Bike Trails
Hiking Trails
Horseback Riding
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Beach Area
Vista Point
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Family Programs
Geocaching
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Restrooms
Drinking Water Available

Wilder Ranch Facebook

 

 

Visiting Wilder Ranch


The Santa Cruz coastline awaits discovery on Wilder Ranch State Park’s 7,000 acres. From the crest of Ben Lomond Mountain, the landscape rolls down ancient wave-cut terraces through the marsh lands of a nature preserve to the seashore. Step back in time to the late 1800's and visit an early dairy ranch. You can explore California's early ranching history by visiting an 1897 Victorian home, or experience a 1896 water-powered machine shop. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the front lawn, and visit the farm animals. With more than 35 miles of trail, you can adventure into the Santa Cruz Mountains or walk along the coastal bluffs. 

 

Things to Do

EXPERIENCE HISTORY – Discover California's early ranching history and experience what life was like a century ago on this innovative dairy ranch. Explore the 1897 Victorian home, 1859 Gothic Revival farmhouse, 1896 water-powered machine shop, rodeo arena, barns and other historic buildings on our hour long tours on weekends at 1pm (call the park to confirm).

GROUP TOUR - Request a private 1-hour Ranch Tour for your group or organization of 10-25 partcipants by clicking here. Requests must be scheduled at least 2-weeks in advance. For school field trips, please click here.

HIKING – for recommend hikes, please click here.

BICYCLING – for recommended biking routes, please click here.

PARK EVENTS – Free Public Ranch Tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. No reservation required. Meet inside Visitor Center. To view a complete list of upcoming events and activities, please click here.

HORSEBACK RIDING & CAMPING – Equestrians are allowed on all park trails and unpaved roads except those on the ocean side of Highway 1. Six equestrian-only campsites are available first-come, first-served year round. Call 831-423-9703 for access to this staging and horse-camping area near Dimeo Lane. There’s no other camping in the park.

Basic Park Information

FEES - There is a $10 vehicle day-use fee. Regular sized autos $10 (seniors $9, age 62 or older), $50 bus parking (10-24 passengers), and $100 for bus parking (25+ passengers) $100.

DOGS are not allowed at Wilder Ranch (except for service animals). For a list of locations you can take your dog in Santa Cruz County, please click here.

HORSES are allowed on all park trails and unpaved roads except those on the ocean side of Highway 1.

BICYCLES are allowed on all trails and roads at Wilder Ranch. Please obey the 15 mph speed limit; stop when approaching a horseback rider; walk bicycles through ranch complex and be respectful of hikers.

DRONES are not allowed in the park. To protect wildlife and cultural resources, and for the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, the park is closed to the use of Model Aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Gliders in flight.


Additional Visitor Services

  • Randy Clayton dba Santa Cruz Carriage Company Draft Horses (Horse rides and interpretive programs)

Teachers

Wilder Ranch offers Ranch Tours or Farm Animal Tours for groups of 10 or more. Reservations must be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Please click here for more information.

Photograph courtesy of Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. 

 

 
 

Kids2Parks is an innovative park-equity program to bring students from Title 1 schools to State Park field trips. The program, a partnership between California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, increases the number of students who have visited a state park or beach by reducing barriers to access. The program offers transportation funding for field trips to select Title 1 schools in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. For more information, and to apply please visit www.thatsmypark.org/visit/k2p/.

 

 

Volunteering

Do you enjoy nature and being outdoors? Do you want to share knowledge with others and promote conservation and stewardship? There are many ways in which you can become more involved with your parks. Please click here to find out more.