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Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz

4.7
#2 of 11 in Parks in Santa Cruz
State Park Nature / Park
Wilder Ranch State Park is a California State Park on the Pacific Ocean coast north of Santa Cruz, California. The park was formerly a dairy ranch, and many of the ranch buildings have been restored for use as a museum. There are no campgrounds; a day-use parking lot provides access to the museum. Dogs are prohibited on the trails, but many trails allow bikes and/or horses. The long trails and ocean views make the area a favorite of hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.HistoryThe first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish PortolĂ  expedition, followed the coast in this area on its way north, camping at today's Majors Creek (now the northern park boundary) on October 18, 1769. On its way through today's Santa Cruz County, the explorers bestowed a few important names which survive today: Pajaro River, San Lorenzo River and Santa Cruz. On the return journey to San Diego, the party camped at the same spot on November 21. Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi noted in his diary the difficulty of moving along this part of the coast: "The road on this march was very troublesome, on account of the frequent gulches along the way."When Mission Santa Cruz was established in 1791, the area became part of the mission pasture lands. Secularization of the missions in 1834 divided the mission lands into large land grants called "ranchos". Wilder Ranch was part of Rancho Refugio, a Mexican land grant of 1839. Historic buildings include part of the adobe rancho house built around that time by rancho grantee Jose Bolcoff.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
188 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Entrance Fee was $10 per car if drive up, but there is roadside parking for free but will need to walk a good distance to get to the trails. There are different length trails available and bathroom fa...  more »
  • We had a beautiful walk. We stopped at the restrooms by the parking lot. They were clean, but if you want to wash your hands, go in the handicapped bathroom. There are no sinks in the non handicapped ...  more »
  • I don't know what all of the good reviews are about, we went July 3 and it was awful. Restrooms closed down, had to use a porta potty down by the museum part, volunteers and employees everywhere, all ...  more »
Google
  • Nice place for a hike or bike ride along the Santa Cruz bluffs. $10 for day parking, but you can park along Highway 1 and hike in if you don't mind the extra hike. A lot of nice viewpoints and small secluded beaches to stop at.
  • Scenic trail, interesting historical features, beautiful ocean views. If you don't mind a bit of a walk you can get to a small cove with a nice beach. Popular for bike riders.
  • We like it here. The kids have fun climbing the big trees and going through the aloe bush tunnels.
  • This state park features a historic house and farm that is great for a quick visit with family. The main attraction, however, is the extension mountain biking and hiking system that extends from the coast up into the hills. The parking is a bit expensive but it helps fund and maintain the park. Winter is generally not a good time for the trails as they can get quite muddy in some areas.
  • Three fantastic beaches in this park - Four Mile, Three Mile and Strawberry Beach. You will have the sand almost to your self on a week day.

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Where to stay in Santa Cruz

Most of the accommodations in Santa Cruz occupy a place near the beach and boardwalk. Inns and bed and breakfasts make up most of the selection here, but you'll also find a few motels and hotels sprinkled in. You might consider staying in one of the inns or bed and breakfasts located inside some of the Victorian houses downtown, which lies just to the north. A number of budget motels line both San Lorenzo Boulevard, which is just across Carbonara Creek from the main tourist area by the beach, and Ocean Street a little farther north.
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