Archive of Past Events

We used to move events from the Programs & Events page to this page, including dates… but with most of them repeating annually or even quarterly, we’ve decided to stop listing past dates here in the archive… These are now listed alphabetically by event title — except for a few that have not been offered in 4 or more years; they are listed at the bottom of this page.

Birding for Beginners in Waddell Valley

Interpreter Jeremy Lin will lead an approximate two-mile hike to observe and enjoy morning wildlife at Rancho del Oso. We will take our time and explore the beautiful coastal valley. No previous experience necessary. It is helpful to bring binoculars, bird guides and a readiness for patient observation as we witness wildlife awakening on a crisp Waddell Valley morning. We will meet at the deck in front of the Nature Center.


Celebrate Wildflower Weekend!

Rancho del Oso’s elegant annual Wildflower Weekend event displays an impressive collection of vibrant wildflowers growing in the northern Santa Cruz coast region. Enjoy flourishing buttercups, exuberant shooting stars, blushing western wake robins and an array of other natural beauties.

This botanically captivating exhibit includes over 80 plants in bloom, including native and non-native species that are found in the western portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The assortment of shapes, sizes, colors and forms are a delight to the senses. Botanist-led Wildflower Walks will be offered at 10:00am and 1:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday. See below for walk descriptions.

* Wildflower Walks will depart from Nature Center deck at Rancho del Oso (3600 Highway One in Davenport, CA). Follow signs from Highway One.

  • 10am: Approximately 4.5-miles, this moderately-paced hike will begin along the Marsh Trail and climb into our scenic Skyline to the Sea Bypass Trail. We will experience diverse ecosystems and take time to enjoy the views.
  • 1pm: This 1-mile wildflower excursion will traverse several habitats along the Hoover Nature Trail. Beginning with a slight incline into gorgeous Monterey Pine habitat, this loop-trail offers stunning views of the ocean.

Drawing for the Love of Nature

Join naturalist and artist Judy Sears for an introduction to Nature drawing techniques. We’ll explore nature journaling, “visual thinking” as introduced by John Muir Laws, and how to organize and display your observations. We’ll also explore “Seeing/Drawing” as taught by Frederick Franck, author of many books on drawing including “Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing.”

All ages are welcome and no experience is necessary, only your interest in exploring drawing as a way to become more familiar with what you see in Nature. We will sit quietly for up to 15 minutes at a time.

Drawing paper, pencils and erasers will be supplied. If you have a favorite 0.5 mm mechanical pencil bring it along, you may enjoy using it as your drawing tool.

Grizzly Bear and Wildlife Day

Join us for a day of family-friendly crafts, activities, face painting and an all-ages lecture by San Lorenzo Valley Museum Curator, Lisa Robinson at 1 pm. Unravel the truth and natural history of the California Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos californicus), as Lisa illuminates the once prolific and eternally respected brown bear that roamed this land for centuries before its recent extirpation. Possibly California’s most visible and enduring symbol, we pay tribute to its awesome size and strength here at Rancho del Oso’s annual Grizzly Bear Day. Ranger-led hike starts at 3 pm departing from the Center’s deck and follows the Hoover Nature Trail.

In the mid-1700s, the San Francisco Peninsula was home to large numbers of grizzlies. The abundance of food was shared between the hierarchy of wildlife and the native peoples; there was plenty for all. In just a few decades, this would change. Confrontations between man and bear often resulted in death or serious injury. By the late-1800s there were few grizzlies left here and by 1900, grizzlies once prolific had been hunted to extinction. Lisa Robinson tells the stories of bear encounters, both grizzlies and black bears, in the Santa Cruz area from the late 1700s to the present day, and reminds us that often our intolerance can lead to an unrecoverable and regrettable loss.

Nature Wander

Find out what’s growing and blooming right now in the Waddell Valley on this approximately 1 mile, 1.5 hour guided walk with docent naturalist Ann Garside. She will share information about the plants of Rancho del Oso as the group walks from coastal scrub through one of the last native stands of Monterey Pine left in the world.  Hike starts at the Rancho de how to do a annotated bibliography l Oso Nature and History Center.

Salamander Saturday

Join us for our annual celebration honoring the often overlooked but heroically well adapted amphibian native to the Santa Cruz Mountains and other moist habitats. Real live amphibians will be available for viewing. Herpetologist Amy Patten will be presenting “Salamanders of the Santa Cruz Mountains” (all ages) at 1:00pm. Naturalist-led salamander hike will start at 3:00pm to search for these regal creatures on the Marsh Trail (approximately 1 mile long). Come learn about salamanders and their ecosystems! All age crafts and activities will be available at the Rancho del Oso Nature & History Center located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz along Highway One, at Waddell Creek at 3600 Hwy 1, Davenport, CA 95017. Free. For more information, call (831) 427-2288.

“Salamanders of the Santa Cruz Mountains”

Part of Salamander Saturday, March 3rd, 2018, 12-4 pm
The diverse habitats of the Santa Cruz Mountains are home to a number of spectacular salamander species. Colorful newts, minute slender salamanders, or the impressive California Giant Salamander are just a few of the salamanders that you might see on a walk through the woods or even in your own backyard. Each species has special adaptations to meet the challenges of escaping predators, finding food, breeding and surviving harsh weather conditions. This presentation covers the natural history and behavior of these salamanders and highlights their importance in our local ecosystems.

Snake Park Saturdays

Why are snakes important to us? How do they see, smell, taste, hear? What and how do they eat? What does a snake feel like? Several snakes will be on display and native reptile adaptations will be discussed in the beautiful backdrop of Waddell Valley. We will meet up at the Ranger Station, a short hike inland from the yellow gate across the parking lot at Waddell Beach on Highway 1.

Watercolor Workshop Series

Joyce Rosenstiel will be leading this four-day watercolor workshop series for beginner and almost intermediate artists. Students will focus on watercolor basics, assembling your painting kit, and fundamentals for landscape and nature painting. Waddell Valley is an inspirational place to start your watercolor journey. Learn to assemble a six by nine inch sketch and paint travel kit for summer adventures.

From Rancho del Oso to the Grand Canyon, capturing the essence of unique landscapes through your art will stay with you for many years, often more profoundly than a photograph. If you always wanted to try your hand at painting, there is no time like the present!

This will be a hands-on learning class. We will look at a scene together, then figure out several ways to sketch it out, and to mix the colors best needed to capture it on paper. You don’t need to bring anything to the first class, but curiosity and a wish to learn more. You can mix any color in nature from red, yellow and blue paint.

This is a four-part series and registration is required; there is no fee. Please call 831-427-2288 or email to reserve a spot. This will be a small group class; space is limited.

Wildflower and Nature Hike of Waddell Valley

Join docent botanist Bryce Stauble and learn to identify many of Waddell Valley’s plants within Rancho del Oso’s seven diverse habitats. Observe the monthly change of the ecosystems. Each walk is unique as blooming flowers and pollinators are constantly in flux! This walk takes a leisurely pace that is great for learning the native habitat we are experiencing. Bring lunch, questions and curiosity!

*Hike will start across from Waddell Beach at the yellow gate.

Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

September 20, 2014 from 9 am – 12 pm
Join Save Our Shores for California’s biggest volunteer effort, Coastal Cleanup Day 2014 at Waddell Beach. Save Our Shores will provide cleanup supplies but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own gloves, buckets, and a reusable water bottle.  There will be snacks at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center after the cleanup for participants! If you have any questions, please contact (831)427-2288.

Bike and Hike the Waddell Valley

September 27, 2014 at 10:00 am
Pump up the tires on your bike, grab your helmet and bike lock, and bring a lunch and plenty of water on this guided bike and hike. Together, we’ll ride up the canyon, learning about and seeing the sights of the Waddell Valley, including the Eagle Tree, remnants of William Waddell’s logging operation, banana slugs and more. We will travel up to 14 miles, dependent on the group, and we may even make it all the way to beautiful Berry Creek Falls! This bike and hike requires a bike that can handle rough fire roads.  Participants must provide their own bikes, locks and helmets.  The bike and hike will meet at the Ranger Station, located less than a mile in from the yellow gate opposite Waddell Beach, 17 miles north of Santa Cruz. Call (831)427-2288 with any questions.

Critter Crafts

Sunday, December 21, 2014 from 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Drop in for fun nature-themed craft time at the Nature and History Center. We will have a FREE make-and-take-activity most children can complete independently, although parents may need to assist preschool-aged children. Any age child is welcome to participate!

Fireside Stories

Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 11:00 am
Pretend, play, sing and explore! Bring the family and gather round the fireplace together at the Nature and History Center for a story followed by activities focused on the theme of the story. This 30-minute program will introduce youngsters (recommend children be at least 3) to the wonders of nature!

Raptors at the Ranch

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm
Join Rancho del Oso, in cooperation with Native Bird Connections, for a dynamic presentation of LIVE non-releasable wild birds at the Nature and History Center! In this hour-long program, there will also be touchable artifacts that include feet, feathers, wings and skulls of various birds. Bring questions for this exciting afternoon learning more about these powerful birds, and what the world looks like through their eyes.

Tide Pool Exploration

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm
Come explore the wonders of the tide pools just south of Waddell Beach – from anemones and sea stars to hermit crabs and kelp! We’ll meet at the Waddell Beach parking lot at 2 pm and make our way down the beach towards Greyhound Rock.  Join us for this minus-tide adventure – but be sure to bring warm clothes, binoculars if you have them and tide pooling shoes!

Way up to Westridge Hike

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 10:00 am
Join us on a hike up the Clark Connection Trail to where it meets the Westridge Trail. We’ll travel from sea level to views of Ano Nuevo and coastal valleys atop the ridge on this strenuous, 4-hour, 6-mile hike.  Arrive early at the Highway 1 gate across from Waddell Beach, and then walk in approximately 1 mile to the Ranger Station to meet your guide. Bring plenty of water, lunch, and energy to hike!