Audubon Canyon Ranch protects the natural resources of its sanctuaries while fostering an understanding and appreciation of these environments. We educate children and adults, promote ecological literacy that is grounded in direct experience, and conduct research and restoration that advances conservation science.
The ACR encompasses two preserves and the Cypress Grove Research Center.
1. Bolinas Lagoon Preserve
This thousand-acre wildlife sanctuary has a rich mosaic of natural communities. Forests of Douglas fir, coast redwood, and California bay blanket the steeper slopes. Open hillsides support grasslands, coastal scrub, and chaparral, redwoods, streams, ponds, and freshwater marsh habitats nestle in the canyon floors. Bolinas Lagoon Preserve supports a major heronry of Great Blue Herons and Great and Snowy Egrets. Audubon Canyon Ranch was founded in 1962 to save the heron and egret nesting colony at this site, which would have been destroyed by development planned for this area. Herons and egrets return each spring to nest in the tops of the tall redwood trees in Picher Canyon. In the shallow waters of Bolinas Lagoon and nearby tidelands, they find ample food for themselves and their young.
The number of nests in this colony varies from year to year but usually totals more than 100 pairs, with Great Egrets making up the majority in recent times. The egrets and herons nesting at Bolinas Lagoon Preserve are a main attraction of this preserve, but you can also find black-tail deer, bobcat, badger, gray fox, raccoon, brush rabbit, meadow mouse, etc. There are also numerous landbirds, reptiles, and amphibians. The Preserve’s frontage along Bolinas Lagoon brings more than 60 species of water and shore birds into view – from sandpipers to osprey to pelicans – as well as some of the resident harbor seals.
2. Bouverie Preserve
This magnificent 500-acre property was donated to Audubon Canyon Ranch by David Bouverie in 1979. Oak woodlands, mixed evergreen forest, riparian, and chaparral are present in this landscape dominated by Stuart Creek Canyon. This location is known for its amazing spring wildflowers. Because of its diversity, Bouverie Preserve is home to a rich and distinct combination of plants and animals, including more than 130 species of birds, 350 species of flowering plants, and numerous large mammals such as the bobcat, grey fox, and coyote.
Bolinas Lagoon Preserve:
There are 8 miles of hiking trails. Kids love seeing the newts and other pond life. There is a bird blind, a display hall and an excellent bookstore. You are welcome to have a picnic at the tables in the ranch yard, but are asked not to bring food on the trails, please.
Guided Nature Walks We hope you’ll join us for this special opportunity to explore the Bouverie Preserve. Our half-day guided nature walks are on Saturdays throughout fall and spring. Participants are divided into small groups and paired with a trained Bouverie volunteer to explore the mixed evergreen forest, flower-carpeted oak woodland, and rugged chaparral. Guided Nature Walks begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. and range from two to five miles. Visitors of all ages are welcome. There is no charge but donations are appreciated. Contributions support the preservation, education and conservation programs of Audubon Canyon Ranch. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis and can be made a month in advance of each respective hike. Reservations are not definite until confirmed.
Bouverie Backyard Naturalist Series The Bouverie Preserve of Audubon Canyon Ranch is offering an exciting new program of field courses designed for adults who wish to hone their own naturalist skills while learning more about the flora and fauna of the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma County. Classroom and field activities included. Sign up for one seminar or the whole series! Easy to moderate hiking required, so wear hiking shoes, a hat and sunscreen. Bring water and a bag lunch. Class size is limited. Please e-mail [email protected] or call 415/868-9244 to register.
Bolinas Lagoon Preserve is open to the public during the spectacular heron and egret nesting season from mid-March through mid-July on the following days and times: Weekends and holidays: 10am to 4pm, no appointment necessary. Tuesday – Friday: by appointment only. Mondays: Closed. Donations appreciated.
The Bouverie Preserve asks visitors to make a reservation before they visit the preserve. The two ways to visit the preserve is through the guided nature walks and/or the Bouverie Backyard Naturalist Series. (Information listed in Recreational Opportunities).
Fees: Donations are appreciated for entrance to the Bolinas Lagoon Preserve. At Bouverie Preserve, there is no fee for the Guided Nature Walk, however, there is a $25.00 participation fee at the Bouverie Backyard Naturalist Series.
ADA Accessibility Notes
Access for people with disabilities is provided at Bolinas Lagoon Preserve through the Ranch yard, which takes you to the bird hide, an excellent area for viewing the nesting birds with specially designed picnic tables, the display hall, and the bookstore. Access for people with disabilities is also provided to the teaching ponds where newts and other pond life can be found.
At Bouverie Preserve, an accessible path leads from the parking lot through an oak woodland to a viewing area with benches, which is good for bird watching, is near a seasonal stream, and overlooks a meadow covered with wildflowers in the spring. The path is short, about 300 feet long. There is also access for people with disabilities to the Gilman Hall Education Center.
Pet Friendly Notes
No pets are allowed on either preserve except for service animals, i.e., any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.
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