When most people think of botanical gardens in Southern California, they think of The Huntington or the LA Arboretum. These gardens are large, impressive, and very popular, making it a little difficult to find solitude. Luckily, there are also a lot of smaller botanical gardens in local communities that aren’t very well known. The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is the one I frequent most, as it’s only a few minutes away from where I live in my hometown of Claremont, CA. In this post, I’m going to highlight one of my favorite walking routes at Rancho Santa Ana, and showcase some of the “must see” sights.
The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is located at 1500 N College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711. The easiest way to get there is to drive by car via the 10 or 210 freeway. The garden is located on Foothill Ave just north of the Claremont School of Theology. You can enter on College Ave from Foothill BLVD (just east of Indian Hill Blvd).
- Hours: 8:00AM to 5:00PM Daily
- Price: $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, $4 for children
- Service dogs are allowed
- The park is wheelchair and stroller accessible
- See more here
The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
From the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden parking lot, look east and you’ll see a small admissions booth. You can pay for your ticket here and proceed into the park.
From the entrance, you’ll pass through Fay’s Wildflower Meadow, and then have a choice to start on the west or east side of the park. I suggest starting on the east for a counter clockwise loop.
The first stops along the east side of the park are the palm oasis, alluvial gardens, and desert succulents.
After passing the alluvian gardens, you’ll see the Tongva Village and get a close up view of the Majestic Oak.
Leaving the Majestic Oak behind you’ll enter into the north section of the park passing by bays and junipers. There is a main road that passes through here, but you’ll also see quite a few smaller single track trails to allow for more independent exploration.
One of my favorite sites in the garden is of the boojum tree. The boojum is a unique tree in that it is the only species of its genus. The Dr. Suess looking tree is native to Baja California and Sonora, Mexico. The boojum can grow up to 50ft in height!
After the boojum tree you’ll pass by the Torrey Pines. The torrey pine is a rare and endangered species that only grows in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (San Diego), and on Santa Rosa Island (Channel Islands). Most people know the name Torrey Pines from the world famous Torrey Pines Golf Course. You may be asking why they’re growing here in Claremont, and the answer is that this part of the gardens used to be the old Claremont Golf Course. I played many rounds on that course in my youth.
From the Torrey Pines, the walk continues past more succulents before passing by the California Fan Palms.
The final stretch of this walk on the east side of the park passes by Joshua Trees, magnolia, and sycamore before entering into the Indian Hill Mesa garden.
The Indian Hill Mesa Garden is home to the butterfly pavilion, Lantz classroom, Container Garden, and Cultivar Garden.
Leaving the Cultivar Garden, you’ll pass by the upper pond, before reaching the exit gift shop and parking lot.
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