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Blue Oak Ranch Reserve Facts

Founded in 2007, Blue Oak Ranch Reserve is a 3,280 acre Biological Field Station and Ecological Reserve, one of the 39 units of the UC Natural Reserve System, and is operated jointly by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Berkeley Natural History Museums and the NRS. The Reserve provides a wealth of research and teaching opportunities in a wide range of important Californian habitats.

The shared mission of the 39 Reserves in the Natural Reserve System is to contribute to the understanding and wise stewardship of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California.


Santa Clara County, 11.2 km (7 mi as the crow flies) east of downtown San Jose. Situated on the west slope of Mount Hamilton adjacent to Joseph Grant County Park.

Size & Elevations

Size: 1,319 ha (3,280 acres) Elevations: 454- 870 m (1,489’ – 2,855’)
Mt Hamilton summit: 1,280 m (4,200’)

Climate & Weather

Average Precipitation: 600 mm (23.63 inches)
Average Temperatures: January: 2.5°C (36.8°F) to 8.8°C (48.5°F)
August: 16.6°C (62.5°F) to 25.5°C (78°F)


Vegetation features valley oak and blue oak woodlands, mixed (blue, black, valley, coast live) oak woodlands, chamise chaparral, Diablan sage scrub, native and non-native grasslands, numerous stock ponds, and well preserved seasonal and perennial streams with intact riparian vegetation and populations of native fish and amphibians. In total, the reserve supports more than 460 species of plants, 130 species of birds, 41 species of mammals, 7 species of amphibians, 14 species of reptiles, 7 species of fish, and hundreds of species of invertebrates.


With funding from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, new facilities have been completed this year to accommodate the needs of up to 50 students and faculty in conditioned and seasonal cabins, large meeting room, 20 seat classroom, field lab, office space, group kitchen and restrooms. These facilities are nearly energy self-sufficient with an off the grid solar photovoltaic power system, solar hot water heaters, wood stoves, and well water. Our roads have been improved to provide year-round access to users for their field courses, research projects, and public outreach activities.