Wilder Ranch~

I wish I could travel back in time to the mid-1800’s and live at Wilder Ranch. You are looking at the original ranch buildings which are now a museum.

The Wilder’s bought the property as a dairy farm in the late 1800’s.

The ranch covers 7000 acres of pristine coastal and marine habitat in Northern California’s Santa Cruz County.

The good news is, the Wilder family sold the property to the state in the 1960’s and it is now a protected marine and wildlife sanctuary and state park.

As you can see, it is a rich habitat, home to 1000’s of birds. I was amazed by the number of bird species I saw and photographed here.

The ranch has some 34 miles of hiking trails, all with stunning views of the coast and coastal valleys.

It is also a diverse marine environment with otters, seals and whales. Even Blue Whales are here, attracted by the mile deep Monterey Trench, the deepest marine canyon off the west coast of North America.

Camping is prohibited to protect the wildlife, but you can spend as many days as you like exploring the ranch on foot. I recommend visiting in winter when the whales are swimming by!

Cheers to you from stunning Wilder Ranch~

253 thoughts on “Wilder Ranch~

  1. Hi Cindy, your post and the pictures are pretty, also the story of the 1800’s is valuable information. I can see why you want to go back in time. Things were more safe and interesting back then. There was no one like trumpet to ruin the show.

    It’s a sign God is showing us how peaceful the world was that many years ago. 🙂

  2. A beautiful place — but when you go back in time, take modern medicine with you. I read earlier this week that the wealthiest man in the world in 1836 died of an infection that would have been cured by a few cents worth of modern antibiotics. [The article pointed out that despite all the bad news we hear, the world is getting to be a better place to live in.]

    1. I definitely would take antibiotics and other necessary meds. I already thought of it in my planning…..laughing. It would also help to have my current assets which would make me quite well off back then. I wonder how much the Wilder’s bought the ranch for? A pittance in our parlance. I don’t know that I agree that we are better off. We have advanced in many ways, but regressed in so many others. I can just imagine the wildlife back then before we killed so much off, and the pristine drinking water, and the lack of violence, and industrial pollution. Imagine eating all your food fresh fished, fresh grown, fresh baked. So healthy. Of course there is the matter of indoor plumbing……It would work best if I could bop back and forth between then and now, getting necessary supplies, bringing them back in time, and such!

  3. Isn’t it lovely! I love the old building, and all the old tractors, and vehicles that are there in addition to the wildlife. You’ll have to come back when the Elephant Seals are recouping and pregnant females come to give birth and raise the pups to be ready for the arduous swim and life at sea.

    They should be arriving now if not already there. Did you see some? You can book a walking tour down to the beach where they are! It’s pretty amazing.

    Your images of all the birds and the old farm buildings are just lovely. It’s been a while since I was last there. Thanks for the reminder I should get out there to see the Elephant Seals again myself!

    1. I saw them swimming in the ocean with their dish plate eyes and massive heads! The rookery should be very active now. I didn’t go to Ano Nuevo, but I am a regular at Piedras Blancas, the rookery at the southern end of Big Sur. I adore the seals. Watching them is absolutely an amazing wildlife experience. I like Piedras Blancas because you can walk all over on your own. You walk around a rock and there is giant bull seal sunning. Absolutely stunning. I have done many posts on them, and have visited during the mating battles, the birthing, and when the mamas’ leave the pups and return to sea. Simply stunning experience. I hope you go to Ano Nuevo and post about it! Here is one of my posts on them, but I have more recent ones too:


  4. You have the most amazing adventures, Cindy. I have become interested in the archiving process – the people who have a love of preserving a way of life so that we can gain a clearer understanding of our current reality. Archiving is detailed, painstaking work. Wilder Ranch exists because of people who had a vision. I wish I could travel back in time with you.

    1. We would have a hoot of a time wouldn’t we Rebecca. I wonder where we would go first? You can pick first, me second…..Mostly I would like to get away from all the current human stress, strife and cruelty, to a place where nature still is dominant. I think about the families in the past, there are a lot of them, that made the decision to save these amazing places they grew up in and own, in perpetuity, out of sheer love of environment.

  5. What a fascinating place that must be to visit. I am interested that there is neither camping nor luxury accommodation there – a true preservation of a pristine place.

  6. Wow, This is assume Cindy. First time I heard about this place. How far is it from San Francisco. Used to live in that area and would have loved to hike around that area. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It is about an hour and a half drive. I know you lived here. I have lived all my life in California, and she constantly continues to amaze me. I seriously hope you are maybe feeling better. Love to you <3

  7. Namaste Cindy 🙂

    I needed a place to wander and what better place to choose than along a wild shoreline 🙂

    Unspoilt and largely untamed with an expanse of ocean sweeping in to the bay it is a perfect location to ramble. I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like residing at the Wilder Ranch back in its heyday but it is perfectly understandable why homesteading ranchers settled here. It is a beautiful location to rest awhile and muse a little in the company of feathered friends and majestic whales a way away in the deep.

    I applaud the decision to sell this stretch of coastline to the state so that it may remain under close protection to be enjoyed time and time again. From the many comments you’ve received, a fuller picture emerges of the location, delighting even more: to know that such an abundance of wildlife use this special place as both a ‘home’ and a sanctuary appeals no end: perhaps in their own sweet way the wildlife here know it is protected and they will be safe. I wish there were far more places in the world where controls and conservation keep the beauty of our Earth intact and allow Nature to just be.

    Well, with 7000 acres left to explore I’d best be on my way! 🙂 Your photography is very much enjoyed, as always, and together with your succinct text provide an entry point for this rambling traveller and help bring the location alive. Your visual record of all the places you’ve visited around the world must be extensive by no! What a joy to be able to view this archive at your leisure. Thank you for airing and sharing as you do…this yet another place to visit that I’ll add to the ever-growing list 🙂 Wonderful!

    Enjoy a great weekend. Take care.

    Namaste 🙂


    1. Thankfully, I have seriously asked the ‘powers that be,’ not presidents or prime ministers, queens, oligarchs, or really selfish people, just, ya’ know, the real ‘powers that be,’ to allow me to time travel. I am expecting an answer back soon (just like I am with the lottery), and when I get it, you, of course, are coming along. I said you would, so you can’t make me a liar. I do that well enough on my own. I will tell you when and where we shall meet.
      I am going to stick to the mid-1800’s for the first trip because I am conservative about first time, time-travel. You can pick the next epoch. Rebecca (clanmother) wants to go too, and I may have promised her firsties.
      Forget the lottery. I want to win this, with you and Rebecca along.
      Imagine it, you will be writing epic poetry, about an long gone epoch, you are currently in!
      Just keep a suitcase, packed lightly……
      You, rock my socks off Dewin!

      1. Namaste Cindy 🙂

        Thank you for such a delightful reply! 🙂 It would be a pleasure to explore the world through the ages travelling with you both visiting and appreciating what once was in all its former glory. Wouldn’t that truly be something – to be there before the destructive hand of humankind left its imprint upon our Earth: before ruination or disfigurement of landscapes, before destruction of untold species of wildlife and their habitats, before we poisoned rivers and oceans, forests and woodlands and removed naturally created eco-systems, or indeed littered the starry heavens high above.

        How did it come to pass that we removed ourselves so far from all that we are and once were without ever having true regard for our ancestral home. If not for Earth’s presence in space, humankind wouldn’t even be here at all. Our blind neglect, our wilful choices, our desire for more and more has consistently been at odds with all that we truly are and have always been deep inside. Our capitalist driven economies that promote greed and thrive on our desire for instant gratification does nothing more than perpetuate humankind’s infancy whilst simultaneously thwarting our evolution. The established order is/are either to blind to see, or to ignorant to truly understand the manner of their myopic leadership and narrow-sighted vision. It is deeply upsetting to all those whose hearts reach out with genuine desire for change, transformation and progress.

        One imagines it is because we are mortal and recognise the relatively short period of time that we live for (in relation to the vastness of time itself) that most want to be thrilled in as many different ways as possible before they disappear from this mortal coil that is life. Our disregard for the legacy we leave is quite disturbing. Where is the vision? Where is the global agenda to set things right, to advance our species in ways other than technologically, economically and financially? Why was our spiritual dimension usurped by scientific method and the rational mind. Where has belief in the unseen dimensions of life gone? Why is modern life relentlessly driven by the insidious propensity towards wealth acquisition? Why are the vast majority of people to blind to see what is really going on around them and how tethered we are as a species by such backward thinking. It is very saddening indeed.

        Well I hope your prayers will be answered shortly and provision made to enable time-travelling adventure. Sadly it will money to facilitate such a wonderful experience but wouldn’t it be something to have a portal to pass through with choice destinations in time and space? 🙂 The 1800’s would provide a most enjoyable first port of call, and whilst it will be a little rough and ready at times, the occasion would be an amazing experience. I’ve no doubt travelling with you and Rebecca would be delightful – what a story we could present to the modern world upon our return! Photographs and images of places either long-forgotten or lost in time; prose and poem expressing sensation and sentiment at the wonders we see; prose offering description detailing our visit and the experience we had. What a ride it would be! 🙂

        I’ve no doubt H.G Wells was a romantic soul – he was of that era – whose mind also wished for discovery of what was and what will be. Perhaps he was also searching for the point of departure in humankinds evolution when we removed ourselves from our essential nature. Quite possibly – despite the story he actually told – he to wanted to imagine a better future-world shared in harmony symbiotically with Nature herself: our Earth Mother, our ancient birth mother.

        The suitcase is already packed in anticipation of a positive answer being returned to you shortly! I guess all you have to do now is wait and listen carefully for those pennies from Heaven to fall. Until then, continue to smile like you are a billionaire who knows that true wealth has nothing to do with abstract concepts like money but instead determines the quality of one’s heart and soul.

        Live in Love, Go in Peace. Brightest Blessings in all ways always.

        Namaste 🙂


        1. Well, there will be some expenses, but my lottery win will take care of those. And then when we go to the 1800’s current dollars will be worth oodles and boodles more, so we will be quite comfortable. 😉 😉
          I love everything you say here Dewin. Some people seem to want to feel smug about human advancement, with the ‘we are better off now litany.’ I don’t see things this way. We have degraded our home, killed off untold wildlife, polluted our planet. Homicidal violence is now the norm in my country. There is an epidemic of opioid drug death. Wars are so common, we don’t ask why, anymore. Lots of people are clearly very unhappy. But we muddle on praising ourselves for our ‘advancement.’ Even the advances of medicine may be somewhat overstated in that many of the more modern achievements are the result of ameliorating diseases and injuries caused by industrialization and war.
          I love you saying that Wells was, “searching for the point of departure in humankinds evolution when we removed ourselves from our essential nature.”
          Brilliant Wells was searching for a way to jump off the train of our human caused devolution. Many people are aware that advancement, with it’s undeniable positive developments, has also made too many people sadder and sicker.

  8. It takes wisdom on the part of an individual land owner to sell his property NOT to the highest bidder, but to the state where there is a guarantee that the land will remain protected from greedy development companies. Great post, Cindy!

    1. “It takes wisdom on the part of an individual land owner to sell his property NOT to the highest bidder, but to the state where there is a guarantee that the land will remain protected from greedy development companies.”
      You said this so perfectly. And I am grateful to these people from the past, who owned amazing natural habitats, and knew there is much more to life than power and money. Things like wild animals in pristine habitats that need protecting. I am grateful you articulated this so beautifully~

  9. What a wonderful wilderness the Wilders provided to the state. Completely left field but NZ produced a funny movie called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The wilderness plays an important role in the film. We must treasure these wild places; they benefit all of us.

  10. I was going to say it sounds like a wonderful place but realised the sound is only in my imagination. It looks like a wonderful place – I wonder what it sounds like. Thanks for a peek at it 😊

    1. The waves were big over the holidays so there was the sound of crashing surf and keening gulls. Every once in awhile a hawk would scream and they let me get very close to them. Wonderful really….

    1. I absolutely could. Some people are telling me, “you wouldn’t want to live back then.” What they are really saying is they wouldn’t want to live back then!

  11. It’s a thrill to see that bird skim the water with wings up, fishing. Or is he drinking? OK, how about showing off? –like some young guys I’ve seen at the beach.

  12. If you lived there in the mid-1800s you might, if you could find the idle moment, wish you could live there 150 years in the future when life might be a little easier. The good news is that there are 7000 open acres today along pristine coastline. 🙂

  13. Stunning indeed!! Thank you Cindy for sharing this great place. Happy New Year to you and yours!! May you explore, discover and embrace all that life brings your way 💕

  14. If you traveled in your time machine to the Wilder Ranch of the mid-1800s, good chance they would put you to work … probably milking the cows. Or, if you were to come to North Ranch, good chance I would put you to work stringing wire, moving hay, cleaning the barn, etc. 🙂

    1. Laughing….Okay. Deal. If you come to The Holler, I’ll put YOU to work, tending our orchards, picking the fruit, monitoring the black widows and scorpions, relocating rattlers, watching out for the ankole watusi bull as you repair our fences. If I went back to Wilder Ranch in 1860, I would sell The Holler first, and use today’s assets to buy the ranch before the Wilder’s got there, and still have oodles of assets left over, because I am sure the ranch land went for a song back then. I would miss my cameras though, and my computers, and my blog friends, including you! 😉

  15. Wilder Ranch reminds me of buildings I saw in museums in Colorado and in cowboy movies. In reality, they were most likely drafty, dusty and cold most of the time. We can, however, dream!

    1. Not so terribly cold on the coast of California in winter, not like Colorado. All those balmy ocean breezes and fresh caught seafood. Even when I was a kid we could pick lobster and abalone out of tidal pools. I can’t even imagine what the natural California coastal world was like in 1870, utterly unspoiled and full of life.

      1. I imagine natural CA coastal waters in 1870 were unspoiled as you mention. I have a sister in CO but these days I am in Upstate NY where lake effect snows can be brutal. This AM school delays due to ice and winds. I do relish my four seasons though. Nothing like fresh seafood that’s for certain! Lucky you.

        1. Upstate is beautiful, lucky you! I heard on NPR that the current split in the polar vortex is likely to bring colder nor’ easters to the east coast and warmer drier weather to the west. Bummer for both of us. Stay warm! <3

            1. “Now that I am retired, I don’t have to be out in the elements on a daily basis. ^__^”
              I do know what you mean, when it rains in California now, I am so grateful I don’t have to drive to work, dealing with all the California drivers who can’t drive with moisture on the road. 😉

  16. Gorgeous, Cindy. I need to spend some time here- your images are beautiful. By the way, I saw a video of a water spout over the ocean in Santa Cruz yesterday.
    Wishing you a fabulous 2019!

  17. Awesome scenery! I’d love to visit the ranch when it was still a ranch. Don’t think I’d want to live there, though. I’m too used to our modern conveniences – like indoor toilets!

    1. Well, yeah. We are both Californians. Now matter how badly our president(s) behave, there is always California, showing them up, in every way. You and I continue to hike her. We know her.

    1. Thank you very much. In California, habitat is often valued, particularly by native Californians, and we know there are precious bits of it, that have not yet been ruined.

  18. Oh, be still, my heart! I really love these photos, and especially the one of the museum part. I wonder how this specific area was affected by the Gold Rush, or if it was. Until you see the ocean photos, it is hard to tell that it is California. Looks like someplace back east. Thank you kindly for sharing. That was an absolute treat!

  19. Bonsoir ou bonjour mon amie CINDY
    Ce soir
    Une nouvelle nuit vas tomber
    Le sommeil va arriver
    Tes yeux vont se fermer
    Et comme d’habitude tu vas rêver
    D’amour et d’amitié ,
    Et demain tu vas t’éveiller
    Sans rien te rappeler
    De qui tu as rêvé
    Mais tu te rappelleras
    Que la veille tes amies
    Sont venues te souhaiter
    Une merveilleuse soirée ou bonne soirée
    Sur ces lignes je te souhaite pour ce soir

    Une très belle soirée et douce nuit gros bisous Bernard

  20. Now that I am self isolating, I went into emails that I had saved from over a year ago. This is awesome. Hope you are well and holed up happily in your Holler. I’m so glad that when things were chaotic here I at least had the sense to save this. A real lift at this time. Thanks so much for all the beauty you have shared. Eileen

Leave a Reply