Mobile Ranger Guides: Self Guided Mobile Tours of Santa Cruz and Beyond

In June 2015, we released our new app “Mobile Ranger Guides.” Since the release, we have continued our work with local historians, non-profit organizations, and researchers to curate high quality content showcased in our app, blog, and social media. The tours are made by locals who know and love Santa Cruz County and the surrounding area. We bridge the gap between their valuable knowledge and your ability to conveniently have it all within reach. Download the app on your mobile device today to have the many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond at hand.

The Tours

San Lorenzo River Tour

Enjoy and connect to the San Lorenzo River! This is a 3 mile walking tour along the San Lorenzo River. It was released with 5 stops and has been updated to include 4 more! This tour was created by the Coastal Watershed Council (CWC) to help people appreciate and enjoy the river. It is one component of the CWCs vision to have the San Lorenzo River become a healthy watershed connected to a vibrant community.

The San Lorenzo River, 2010. Photo © J. Klinger
The San Lorenzo River, 2010. Photo © J. Klinger

West Cliff Drive Tour

This is a flat 2.5 mile walking tour of West Cliff Drive From Natural Bridges State Beach to Cowell Beach. Discover the wave motor of the 1890s, the toilet bowl formations lurking within the local rocks, the story of why Lighthouse Field is still a park and not a beach front shopping mall and much more! This tour was created by rangers from Mobile Ranger.

Rip-rap filling the beach between San Jose and Stockton Avenues along West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California. Photo © Archer Koch of MultiRotorCam.
Rip-rap filling the beach between San Jose and Stockton Avenues along West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California. Photo © Archer Koch of MultiRotorCam.

River Art Walk Tour

This is a one mile flat walking tour along the San Lorenzo River Walk from the Kaiser Permanente Arena to the Tannery Arts Center. It features 11 arts exhibits that were part of the Ebb & Flow River Art Walk event on June 6, 2015. Some of the installations are still there and some are not, but they can all be remembered via the AppTour which contains photos of the installations, artists’ concept drawings and their inspirations and motivations. This tour was created with the Arts Council Santa Cruz County as part of their Ebb & Flow River Arts Project.

Installed along the riverbank, the River Ghost boats appear to be floating down the San Lorenzo River. Photo 2015, copyright Ron Holman.
Installed along the riverbank, the River Ghost boats appear to be floating down the San Lorenzo River. Photo 2015, copyright Ron Holman.

Wharf EcoTour

The Wharf is a century-old structure with vibrant fishing history, thriving marine life and modern-day scientific research facilities. The EcoTour takes you to five stops on the wharf as well as five spots off the Wharf. This tour was created in collaboration with the City of Santa Cruz, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center and the University of California Santa Cruz as part of the Green Wharf Project.

Photo © Archer Koch of MultiRotorCam.
Photo © Archer Koch of MultiRotorCam.

Downtown Mission Hill Staircases Tour

This one mile walking tour takes you through Santa Cruz history as you walk up and down the stairways of Mission Hill. You’ll see echoes and artifacts of the Spanish mission, gold rush pioneers, a celebrated philanthropist, and a forgotten farm in the heart of the town. It’s all fairly easy terrain save the four (and a half) staircases you need to climb! This tour was created by local history researcher Linda Rosewood.

At the bottom of the stairs, turn right, and walk up the Walnut Street stairs to a landing.
At the bottom of the stairs, turn right, and walk up the Walnut Street stairs to a landing.

UCSC Lime Kilns Tour

Lime was an essential building material in late 19th century California, and Santa Cruz was at that time one of the state’s most important lime-producing regions. This is a one mile-long walking tour of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The tour was made by local historian Frank Perry on behalf of The Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District.

Lime kiln workers. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District.
Lime kiln workers. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District.

North Coast (Highway 1) Tour

This is roughly 30 mile driving tour of the north coast of Santa Cruz from Long Marine Lab to Pebble Beach (Bean Hollow State Beach North). It has twelve stops along the way. Learn how railroad barons stole the ocean view, how the local rocks control what the coast looks like and read the story of how the “Cement King” built Davenport only to lose it all! This tour was created by rangers from Mobile Ranger.

The Waddell Bluffs, November 2014.
The Waddell Bluffs, November 2014.

Downtown Santa Cruz Historic-Art Tour

This is a brief walking tour of a scattering of downtown Santa Cruz’ historic buildings, sculptures and murals. Find out about Tom Scribner and his famous suspenders, the history of Santa Cruz’s own Jazz Alley, and see some Art-Deco-inspired architecture. The mobile version of this tour was made possible by Don Lauritson, on behalf of the Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission.

The Santa Cruz US Post Office. Photo courtesy of and © Paul Babb.
The Santa Cruz US Post Office. Photo courtesy of and © Paul Babb.

Salinas Downtown Architecture

This is a walking tour of some of the many unique architectural buildings in the downtown area of Salinas. During the Great Depression, Salinas, unlike most of America, prospered. In 1924, fueled by agricultural innovations, Salinas had the highest per capita income of any city in the United States. This prosperity translated to a downtown full of buildings built in the 1920s and 30s in the Art Deco and Moderne architectural styles. This tour was made possible by Don Lauritson, on behalf of the Alliance of Monterey Area Preservationists (AMAP), the Architectural Heritage Association of Monterey County (AHA!), and the Historic Preservation Foundation of the Native Sons of the Golden West (NSGW).

RaboBank-Office Building; 301 South Main Street (at Alisal); Circa 1930; Zig-Zag Moderne Style; Architects: Ryland & Schwartz
RaboBank-Office Building; 301 South Main Street (at Alisal); Circa 1930; Zig-Zag Moderne Style; Architects: Ryland & Schwartz

Marine Life Guide

In this guide you will find detailed information about Santa Cruz’s local marine mammals and birds, where to find them, and how the seasons affect the type of marine-based creatures you will see throughout the year. This tour was created by rangers from Mobile Ranger and local naturalists and Baynetvolunteers Patrick Wilkinson and Bob Polermo.

A sea otter mom and her newly born pup. Photo by Steve Choy, courtesy NOAA MBNMS, www.sanctuarysimon.org.
A sea otter mom and her newly born pup. Photo by Steve Choy, courtesy NOAA MBNMS, www.sanctuarysimon.org.

Organizations who have made tours with Mobile Ranger:

  • Coastal Watershed Council (CWC)
  • Arts Council Santa Cruz County
  • Seymour Marine Discovery Center
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
  • Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission
  • Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District
  • Skyline Historical Society
  • Salinas Historic Resources Board
  • Kudela Lab at UCSC
  • Capitola Art and Cultural Commission


    Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour

    Download the free app to get all of these tours within tapping distance. Enjoy!

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    Go to Mobile Ranger Guides in the Apple App Store
    Go to Mobile Ranger Guides in the Google Play Store



  • About The Author

    I really enjoy field trips. I love being in a cool place and having someone tell me about it. The problem is, you can’t always find a professor or park ranger-type to tell you all they know about the local rocks, plants, and history. So I decided to combine my love of things natural with mobile technology.

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