Programs and Events

Learn about School Field Trips

Archive of Past Events

Watercolor Workshop Series

Saturday, April 28 at 10 am
Saturday, May 26 at 10 am
Saturday, June 23 at 10 am
Saturday, July 28 at 10 am

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 rdopis@parks.ca.gov to reserve a spot. This will be a small group class; space is limited.

Celebrate Wildflower Weekend!

Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6, 10-4 pm

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.

Wildflower and Nature Hike of Waddell Valley

  • Friday, April 13th at 10am
  • Friday, June 8th at 10am
  • Friday, March 9th at 10am

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.

Nature Wander

  • Sunday, April 8th at 1pm
  • Sunday, May 13th at 1pm
  • Sunday, June 10th at 1 pm

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 del Oso Nature and History Center.

Special Event: Snake Park Saturday

Saturday, April 14th, 2 pm

Saturday, May 12th, 2 pm
Saturday, June 9th, 2 pm

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? Come to the Rancho del Oso Ranger Station to learn about the fascinating world of snakes. Several snakes will be on display and native reptile adaptations will be discussed in the beautiful backdrop of Waddell Valley!

Ranger Station is located ¼ mile inland from the yellow gate across from Waddell Beach parking lot.

Birding for Beginners in Waddell Valley

Saturday, April 14th at 8 am
Saturday, May 12th at 8 am
Saturday, June 16th at 8 am

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.

“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.