Santa Cruz is widely known for its beautiful coastline that offers its visitors a lot to discover. One of the most important objects located here is Wilder Ranch State Park that covers a land of 7000 acres. The views one can see visiting Wilder Ranch are absolutely amazing since the park includes the crest of Ben Lomond Mountain as well as picturesque marsh lands and a part of the seashore.
Things to do in Wilder Ranch State Park
Undeniably, the major attraction of Wilder Ranch is its beautiful scenery; however, the park also has a lot of other things to offer.
Wilder Ranch State Park is a great place to explore ranching history. The area is a home for such important historical sites as 1859 Gothic Revival farmhouse, 1897 Victorian home, 1896 water-powered machine shop, multiple barns and rodeo arena. The front lawn of the ranch is perfect place for a family picnic where children can see farm animals. You can also visit the historical sites of Wilder Ranch as a part of a group tour. Currently, a private Ranch Tour lasting one hour is available for groups of 10-25 visitors. If you are interested in exploring the ranch with a group, you should schedule the trip at least 2 week beforehand.
Note that there are also free public ranch tours organised on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm.
The trail of Wilder Ranch State Park has more than 35 miles that are spread from Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast. The trails have different levels of difficulty so you can choose the most comfortable route according to your physical condition. The trails of Wilder Ranch are great for both hiking and bicycling.
Wilder Ranch State Park also offers camping and back riding. Almost all of the roads and trails of the park are available for equestrians. You do not have to make reservation in order to participate in the free tour.
Basic information you need to know before visiting Wilder Ranch State Park
If you are planning to visit Wilder ranch as an individual person, you will have to pay $10 for parking a regular sized auto. Notice that seniors of a minimum age of 62 pay $9. Parking for buses holding between 10 and 24 passengers will cost you $50 whereas parking for large buses with more than 25 passengers costs $100.
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take your dogs with you. Only service animals are allowed at Wilder Ranch. As it has already been mentioned, you can ride a horse on any roads and trails of the park. The only exception are the trails of the ocean side of Highway 1.
You are allowed to ride a bike on all of the trails and roads located in Wilder Ranch State Park. The speed limit for bicycles in the park is 15 mph. If you approach a horseback rider, you have to stop. You are not allowed to cycle through the ranch complex, walk the bicycle instead. Of course, you should also be respectful of hikers.
Pay your attention to the prohibition of using drones in Wilder Ranch State Park. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Model aircraft and Gliders are not allowed on the premises of the park as well. The prohibitions are made in order to protect the cultural resources, wildlife and maintain the safety of the park’s staff and visitors.
You can also become a volunteer of Wilder Ranch State Park! One of the options available for everyone who enjoys being outdoors and would like to promote conservation is becoming a park volunteer docent. Some of the activities you will be able to participate in as a volunteer docent include guided hikes, leading school group tours and participation in living history demonstrations.