Explore Historic Rancho Sierra Vista with the National Park Service’s “Horse Tales”


If your child has a hankering for horses and hiking, then bring them down to Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park, on Saturday, September 10th for heaps of outdoor family fun. Join the National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers and their equine partners for a morning of family friendly interactive learning, and a short ranger-led hike through this history-rich landscape.

Purchased by the National Park Service in 1980, Rancho Sierra Vista, was settled in 1936 by oil geologist Carl Beal who established a sprawling ranch that extended out from Newbury Park to the Pacific Ocean and as far north as Camarillo. For a few thousand years before that, this fertile swath of earth was sacred Chumash land which encompassed the sandstone-peaked views of Boney Mountain and the enchanting streams and wildflowers of Sycamore Canyon.

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park in the country, Rancho Sierra Vista takes great pride in honoring its ranching heritage. And as part of the nationwide National Park Service Centennial Celebration, their Horse Tales program is a lively event that leaves kids, and adults alike, with a renewed love for animals and perhaps a fresh perspective on the abundant history surrounding their community’s open spaces.

Festivities begin at 9 a.m., as a cultural resource and interpretive ranger guides visitors through a ranch history touch table loaded with ranching artifacts providing a well-rounded illustration of the tools of the rancher’s trade. From adobe brick molds and cow hides, to musical instruments and kid’s toys, this full-sensory encounter will transport adventure-seekers back to the early days of the 20th century.

A truly equestrian-filled event, visitors will be welcomed to watch a thrilling demonstration performed by Rancho Sierra Vista resident horses, Bayberry, Jordan and Cache, then stay for a pet and greet. The National Park Service and California State Park mounted volunteers will also be on hand to conduct their monthly training exercises, located in the upper corral.

NPS Horse Volunteer, Kristina Bliss muses, “The most popular part of the Horse Tales program for kids (and adults!) is meeting and petting the NPS horses, sitting in the RSV surrey, along with interactive learning about ranching history at Rancho Sierra Vista.” This open-house-style event invites families to explore a wide variety of stations meant to inform and energize young minds through participation. Kids can track their progress with a program card by gaining stamps as they move through each experience, receiving a reward as recognition for completion.

Other entertaining activities will include a kid’s ranch brand, where children can create their own branded leather bracelet, a perfect souvenir to remind them of a wonderful day spent in the outdoors. And the Transportation Talk exhibition will allow guests a closer look at the surrey, a 4-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, a popular mode of American transport in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An optional ranch history hike, led by a cultural resource ranger, beginning at 10:30 a.m., allows explorers an up-close-and-personal glimpse of one of the last remaining ranches from the first half of the 20th century. After the event’s conclusion at 11 a.m., stay and enjoy the natural wonders of Rancho Sierra Vista’s more than 10 miles of pristine trails, including a short 1.5-mile hike to a beautiful waterfall just inside the Boney Mountain State Wilderness, or sit under the majestic sycamores for a relaxing family picnic.

Know Before You Go

Ample ADA-approved parking for Rancho Sierra Vista is located in their main parking lot at the cross street of Via Goleta and Lynn Road in Newbury Park, CA, 91320.

There are public restrooms and water fountains located in the main entrance parking lot and near the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center.

Pets are allowed if they are on a leash and under control, but are not allowed on designated backcountry trails leading to Point Mugu State Park.

For more information about this event, contact the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area at (805) 370-2301.