Wilder Ranch is a California State Park that was formerly a dairy farm, and many of the buildings have been restored for use as a museum, located about 59 miles (95 km) south-southeast of San Francisco and 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Santa Cruz, California. The ranch was named for Delos D. Wilder who was a pioneer dairyman. The shoreline is bordered by Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve, an area of 371 acres (150 ha) that protects all marine life in the nearshore band between the mean high tide line and a distance of 200 feet (61 m) seaward of mean lower low water.
The first European land exploration of Alta California was the Spanish Portolà expedition that followed the coast in this area on its way north in October 1769. In 1791, the Mission Santa Cruz was established and the area became part of the mission pasture lands. In 1834, the mission lands were divided into large land grants called “ranchos” by the Mexican government. In 1839, Rancho Refugio was established here by a Mexican land grant to Jose Bolcoff who built an adobe house that has recently been restored. In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ended the Mexican–American War, and Texas, New Mexico, California, and the unsettled territory of several future states of the American Southwest were added to U.S. control.
In 1871, Delos D. Wilder and L.K. Baldwin acquired part of the former Rancho Refugio. In 1885, the partners split the holdings into separate ranches and Wilder built an elegant Victorian home that still survives. The Wilder family continued to operate the dairy farm until 1969. The state acquired the land in 1974. Wilder Creek flows along the eastern boundary of the park and enters the Pacific ocean at Wilder Beach. Snowy plovers nest in Wilder Beach Natural Preserve which is closed to the public to protect the habitat of this threatened shorebird species. Read more here and here. Explore more of Wilder Ranch here: