Wilder Ranch State Park

Phone Number

(831) 423-9703

Park Hours

Park Hours: 8am - Sunset 

Interpretive Center and Park Store: Wednesday - Sunday 10am-4pm

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

 

Winter Storm Closures

Due to extensive damage sustained during recent winter storms, many state parks in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties are fully or partially closed. Staff are currently assessing the condition of the parks for reopening.

Parks that are fully closed include Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Portola Redwoods State Park, and Butano State Park.

Parks that are partially closed include Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (Fall Creek subunit, various trails, and parking lots closed except main parking lot at visitor center), Wilder Ranch State Park (most trails closed; historic complex and Old Cove Landing Trail open), Seacliff State Beach (lower parking lot, picnic areas, and campground closed; visitor center open and pedestrian and bicylist access only at beach level), The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park (closed beyond Winter Gate; Aptos Creek Fire Road inaccessible by vehicle between Margaret's Bridge and old slide), and the Rancho del Oso subunit of Big Basin (East side access to the Nature Center is closed. West side is open from the yellow gate to the horse camp parking lot; Marsh Trail is open from horse camp parking lot to the creek. Waddell beach parking lot is also open.)

Guided hikes and other in-person park programs have resumed in Santa Cruz-area State Parks! Pre-registration is required. Visit www.santacruzstateparks.as.me to see the schedule and make reservations.

New Parking Fee Payment Option

QR Code to download Yodel appYou can now pay parking fees on your smartphone by using the free Yodel app at Wilder Ranch! Yodel is secure and simple. All you need is a smartphone and a credit card. A multi-factor authentication protects users while the app’s evolving QR code prevents repeat pass usage.

With this new pay-by-phone option, you can pay for parking fees prior to arriving at the park or continue paying at the kiosk upon arrival with cash or credit card.

Download Yodel on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store or by scanning the QR code.

Please note: Yodel is available to pay for parking entrance fees for day-use only. Visitors are advised that pay-by-phone is not a reservation and entry is subject to availability at each park unit. If parking lots are full, visitors should wait to park before taking advantage of the pay-by-phone option. All sales are final and there are no cancellations or refunds.

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. 

 

Crumb Clean Campaign

This park is Crumb Clean! Watch this short video to learn about the marbled murrelet, an endangered bird that nests in the park, and how you can protect it. Vea el video en español aquí.

 

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 8-25 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.


Teachers

Wilder Ranch offers virtual and in-person programs for school 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.

 

 

   
       
       

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