The history of Año Nuevo State Park is the history of California. Home to the Quiroste Ohlone people for thousands of years, Año Nuevo Point was first seen by a European, Sebastian Vizcaino, in 1603. It would be another 166 years before Gaspar de Portola passed this way on foot on his way to discovering San Francisco Bay for Spain. The Spanish missions and the rancho era passed another 90 years until the Steele family purchased the land and built a dairy that would occupy the area until the state started acquiring land here in the 1950s.
The Marine Education Center is the place to begin exploring the park. Housed in the dairy barn built by the Steeles and surrounded by the house and outbuildings of the dairy, the center has exhibits about the park’s ecology and geology, and it features information about the elephant seal colony on Año Nuevo Point. The park is quite large and boasts miles of hiking trails (both coastal and upland forests), miles of pristine beaches, and the Quiroste Valley Cultural Preserve that holds many historic traces of the original people.