Visiting the Nature and History Center

The Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is home to our interpretive programs.  Featuring newly remodeled exhibits highlighting the wonders of the Waddell Valley, the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center weaves together cultural and natural history.  From stories around the fire to guided walks to see what’s in bloom in the Waddell Valley to talks with live animals, the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center has programs throughout the year!  Come and visit to find out all that is happening!

Exhibit at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center, Waddell Creek State Park, California    Exhibit at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center, Waddell Creek State Park, California
The Rancho del Oso Ranger Station, on the north side of Waddell Creek, provides additional resources for hikers, horse and bike riders, and backpackers. It is located inland from Highway 1 on the north side of Waddell Creek. You can also hike to the Ranger Station from the Nature and History Center, from May – September, via the Marsh Trail and a seasonal bridge across Waddell Creek.

Where We Are:

Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is within the coastal section of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is just 18 miles north of Santa Cruz (7½ miles north of Davenport), and 30 miles south of Half Moon Bay (59 miles south of San Francisco).

Driving Directions to the Nature and History Center, and the Ranger Station

From Santa Cruz:

  1. Take Mission St./Highway 1 to the western edge of town.
  2. Continue on Highway 1 through the town of Davenport (9 miles), and past the parking area for Greyhound Rock (on left, 6 more miles).
  3. The entrance to the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is another 1.3 miles ahead at the bottom of a long grade.
  4. Look for the small brown “Nature Center” sign on the right, then slow, and prepare to make the next right onto a dirt road.
  5. A wooden sign marks the entrance to the Center. The entrance is just before the highway crosses over Waddell Creek,
    and before the entrance to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
  6. From the entrance, follow the signs to the Nature Center, about 1/4 mile.
  7. The road to the Ranger Station is on the north side of Waddell Creek, past the entrance to the Nature and History Center and across the bridge over Waddell Creek.
  8. Parking beyond the gate is for Horse Camp and backpackers only. Permits required.
  9. Day hikers and cyclists can park along Highway 1 or in the lot adjacent to Waddell Beach. The Ranger Station and hiking trails are located approximately one mile beyond the gate.

From Half Moon Bay:

  1. Take Highway 1 South, past the town of Pescadero, Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and Año Nuevo State Reserve.
  2. The gated road to the Ranger Station and hiking trails is on the left side of Highway 1, across from the Waddell Beach parking lot. Parking beyond the gate is for Horse Camp and backpackers only. Permits required.
  3. Day hikers and cyclists can park in the lot adjacent to Waddell Beach or on the inland side of Highway 1. The Ranger Station and hiking trails are located approximately one mile beyond the gate.
  4. The entrance to Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is a bit further south, just across the bridge over Waddell Creek, also on the left.
  5. Turn left, just past the entrance to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, onto the dirt road immediately after the highway crosses
    Waddell Creek.
  6. A wooden sign marks the entrance to the Center.
  7. Continue up the road, following the signs to the Center, about 1/4 mile.