Santa Cruz District Field Trips

The Santa Cruz District of California State Parks is offering live interactive videoconference programs at most parks, as well as traditional in-person field trips at select parks, for the 2021-2022 school year. The free 30-45 minute virtual field trips are aligned to academic content standards, customizable to teachers’ needs, and available on any videoconference platform, although Zoom is recommended for the best experience. In-person field trips will incorporate COVID-19 safety protocols, including requiring all students wear masks and visiting outdoor park locations only. To request a virtual or in-person program or for more information, click on any of the park unit links below.

| Año Nuevo | Castle Rock | Castro Adobe | Forest of Nisene MarksHalf Moon Bay
Henry Cowell Redwoods 
Natural Bridges | Rancho Del Oso | Santa Cruz MissionSeacliffWilder Ranch |


Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo

General Description: This program introduces students to the evolutionary history and adaptations of the northern elephant seals of Año Nuevo State Reserve with a rookery visit. 

Grade Levels: 3-6 (can be customized for other grade levels) 

Next Generation Science Standards: 3-LS1.B | 3-LS2.D | 3-LS3.A | 3-LS3.B | 4-LS1.A | 4-LS1.B

Programs Available: Virtual: Wednesdays and Fridays, 8:30am, 9:30am, and 10:30am, January through March (for optimal seal viewing) 

Request a VIRTUAL Año Nuevo Program!

Additional Digital Resources: 
Año Nuevo Flipgrid
Elephant Seals Padlet
360 Park and Año Nuevo Island Tours


Geology at Castle Rock 

General Description: Students learn about the natural wonders of Castle Rock State Park with a focus on the park's distinctive geology during this program, but will also be introduced to other subjects including Native American peoples, local wildlife, and modern human impacts to our ecosystems. 

Grade Levels: 4-7 (can be customized for other grade levels) 

Next Generation Science Standards: 4 ESS1-1 | 4-ESS2-1 | MS-ESS2-2 | MS-ESS2-3 

Programs Available: Virtual: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9:30am - 2pm

Request a VIRTUAL Castle Rock Program!


Life at Rancho San Andres and the Castro Adobe

General Description: This program introduces students to the four periods of California history with a focus on the Mexican Rancho Era, sometimes called "the time of the Californios," that lasted from 1821 to 1850 by examining the history and architecture of the 170-year-old Castro Adobe located on Rancho San Andres. The program explores the Rancho’s timeline starting with the Ohlone Indians (pre-mission), the Spanish arrival, the Mexican period and the early California American period. 

Grade Levels: 3-4 (can be customized for other grade levels)

History/Social Studies and Common Core Standards: History:  HSS-3.3.1 | HSS-4.2.5   Math:  3.NF.1 | 4.NF.1   Art: 3.MA:Cn11 | 4.MA:Cn11 

Programs Available: Virtual: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9:30am, 11am, and 1pm | In-Person: Fridays at 10am starting January 2022

Request a VIRTUAL Castro Adobe Program!
Request an IN-PERSON Castro Adobe Program!



Resilience and Regeneration in the Forest of Nisene Marks  

General Description: Situated in Aptos, The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park boasts over 10,000 acres of second-generation redwood trees, as well as a rich history that is deeply engrossing. This program offers an in-depth look at what makes this redwood forest unique and how the adaptations found in redwoods have helped this forest survive throughout the years. 

Grade Levels: 3-6 (can be customized for other grade levels) 

Primary Next Generation Science Standards: 1-LS3-1 | 2-LS4-1 | 3-LS1-1, 3-LS4-3 

Programs Available: In-Person: Tuesdays, 10 - 11am

Request an IN-PERSON Forest of Nisene Marks Program! 


Marine Ecology at Half Moon Bay

General Description: In this program, students learn about the many animals that inhabit the diverse, interconnected ecosystems of the coast. The virtual program offers three modules to choose from:

    • Geology of the Rocky Shore: Learn how scientists uncover the long and active history of the earth by studying rocks and the formations along our coast.
    • Tide Pool Invertebrates: Examine the many species of invertebrates that live in the intertidal zone that cannot be found anywhere else, and the adaptations they need to survive in this harsh and constantly changing environment.
    • Animal Habitats and Adaptations: Investigate how State Parks protect many animals from the beaches to the ocean, how they are adapted to their environment, and what we can all do to help preserve their homes for the future.

Grade Levels: K-5 (customized based on grade levels) 

Next Generation Science Standards: 2-PS1 | 4-PS4 | K-ESS3 | 1ESS1 | 4-ESS1 | 4-ESS2 | 5-ESS2 | 5-ESS3 | K-LS1-1 | 1-LS1-1 | 2-LS4 | 3-LS1 | 3-LS4 | 4-LS1 | 5-LS1 | 5-LS2

Programs Available: Virtual: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 and 11am  |  In-Person: Wednesdays and Fridays 10am – 2pm

Request a VIRTUAL Half Moon Bay Program!
Request an IN-PERSON Half Moon Bay Program!   


Redwood Ecology at Henry Cowell Redwoods

General Description: This program covers all things redwood, including coast redwood life history, physiology, adaptations, ecosystems, and more! 

Grade Levels: K-4, middle school, and high school (can be customized for other grade levels) 

Next Generation Science Standards:  K-ESS2-2 | K-ESS3-3 | K-LS1-1 | 1-LS3-1 | 2-PS1-2 | 2LS2-1 | 2-LS4-1 | 4-LS1-1 | MS-LS1-6 | MS-LS4-4 | HS-LS2-7

Programs Available: In-Person: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9am - 2pm

Request an IN-PERSON Henry Cowell Redwoods Program!


Tide Pools at Natural Bridges State Beach

General Description: Natural Bridges' tide pools are a wonder at low tide. As a Marine Protected Area, the tide pool animals are protected from harvest, touching, and moving, allowing this community to thrive. In this program, students will learn about tide pool plants and animals, their different habitats and adaptations, and biomimicry products inspired by these creatures.

Grade Levels: K-5, middle school, and high school (can be customized to complement classroom instruction) 

Next Generation Science Standards: K-LS1 | K-ESS3 | 1-LS1-1| 2-LS4-1 | 3-ESS2 | 3-ESS3 | 3-LS1 | 3-LS4 | 4-LS1 | 5-LS2 | MS-LS1-5 |7-MS-LS2-1| 7-MS-LS2-2| 7-MS-LS2-3| 7-MS-LS2-4| 7-MS-LS2-5| HS LS2-1 | HS LS2-2 | HS LS2-6 | HS-LS4-5

Programs Available: Program availability depends on the tides. Weeks with in-person programs usually alternate with weeks with virtual programs. Please check the scheduling links for availability.

Request a VIRTUAL Natural Bridges Program!
Request an IN-PERSON Natural Bridges Program!



Seven Habitats of Rancho del Oso 

General Description: Explore the seven ecosystems of Rancho del Oso and witness the adaptions which allow the plants and animals to survive in this ever-changing landscape.

Grade Levels: 3-5 (can be customized for other grade levels) 

Next Generation Science Standards: MS-PS1-3 | MS-LS1-1 | MS-LS1-5 | MS-LS1-6 | MS-LS2-1 | MS-LS2-4 | MS-LS2-2 | MS-ESS3-3

Programs Available: Virtual: Mondays, 10 - 11am | In-Person: Thursdays and Fridays, 10am - 2pm; Other times available upon request. 

Request a VIRTUAL or IN-PERSON Rancho del Oso Program!


Indigenous History at Santa Cruz Mission

General Description: The California Mission System changed traditional Indigenous life forever. Students will explore how Native People responded to this change in a variety of ways resulting in cultural continuity, cultural adaptation, and cultural change. This program consists of two 1-hour sessions, typically on Monday and Thursday of a week.

Grade Levels: 4  

History/Social Science Standards: 4.2 | 4.2.1 | 4.2.2 | 4.2.3 | 4.2.5 | 4.2.6  

Programs Available: Virtual: Mondays and Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:30am or 11am - noon; Other times available upon request.

Request a VIRTUAL Santa Cruz Mission Program! 


Fossils and Marine Life at Seacliff

General Description: This program introduces students to the diverse marine life, past and present, at Seacliff and examines why it's a wildlife hotspot with four modules to choose from: 

  • Seafloor to Seashore: Investigate how fossils from the seafloor ended up in our cliff, and what that tells us about California’s prehistoric past. Best for 2nd–4th grades.
  • Float a Concrete Ship?: Examine the physical forces that determine what floats and what sinks using Seacliff’s concrete ship as a primary example. Best for 2nd–4th grades.
  • Avian Adaptations: Learn how adaptations of birds allow them to make themselves at home in almost any habitat, including some surprising places at Seacliff. Best for 2nd–4th grades.
  • Marine Sanctuary Exploration: Explore the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and other marine protected areas with a look at what does and doesn’t belong in safe places for marine life. Best for K–1st grades.

Grade Levels: K-1, 2-4 (can be customized for other grade levels) 

Next Generation Science Standards: TBD

Programs Available: Virtual: Thursdays and Fridays, 9am, 10am, or 11am

Request a VIRTUAL Seacliff Program!


Ranch History at Wilder Ranch

General Description: Living on a dairy ranch in the year 1900 took a lot of hard work and required working together as a team to be successful. This program explores some of the chores that children would have been expected to help with. In-person programs include students engaging in typical tasks for the 1900 ranch kid and interacting with the farm animals that call Wilder Ranch their home today! 

Grade Levels: 1-3

History/Social Science Standards: 2.4.1 | 3.2.2 | 3.2.4 | 3.3.1 | 3.3.2 | 3.3.3 | 3.5.1 | 4.2.1 | 4.2.5 | 4.2.6 | 4.2.6 | 4.2.7 | 4.2.8 | 4.3.2 | 4.4.2 | 4.4.3

Programs Available: Virtual: Wednesdays, 9am and 10:30am. | In-Person: Fridays, 9:30am and 11:30am. Rain cancels. 

Request a VIRTUAL Wilder Ranch Program!
Request an IN-PERSON Wilder Ranch Program!

Additional Digital Resources: 
Wilder Ranch Flipgrid
Wilder Ranch YouTube Channel