Along a well traveled road known as El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) lies a place out of time…Rancho Camulos. It is one of the best surviving examples of an early California rancho in its original rural environment and stands as a vibrant reminder of the state’s Spanish and Mexican heritage. Established by Ygnacio Del Valle in 1853, Rancho Camulos was once part of a 48,000 acre Mexican land grant deeded to Ygnacio’s father Antonio Del Valle in 1839.

The Del Valles were a prominent Californio family involved in state and local politics during the Mexican period and after the transition to statehood. They were famous for their generous hospitality and for maintaining the traditional rancho lifestyle long after it had disappeared elsewhere. Camulos bustled with extended family members and ranch workers, with up to 200 people living on the property during years of peak agricultural production. Among the frequent guests at Camulos during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were a number of prominent writers and artists, including Charles F. Lummis, James Walker,  and Alexander Harmer, who were inspired time and again by the rancho’s idyllic setting.

Camulos was a noted stop along the main stage coach route—part of the original mission trail—from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Padres traveling between San Fernando and San Buenaventura  would visit the ranch to say mass for the Del Valle family and nearby residents in the private chapel, which over the years has become endearingly referred to as “the lost mission.” Rancho Camulos remained in the Del Valle family until 1924 when it was sold to August Rübel, whose heirs have worked to protect and preserve the site.

Rancho Camulos is also part of literary folklore as the setting for Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona, first published in 1884 and still in print today. It is the romantic tale of a young girl  raised by a Spanish Californio family who falls in love with an Indian ranch hand. Their life together mirrors the fate of Indians at the hands of white settlers. With its tragic love story and nostalgic view of history, the dramatic tale captured the imagination of the American public and created tremendous interest in California’s Hispanic past. Tourists and settlers flocked to the region in huge numbers from the late 1880’s until the beginning of WWII.  Rancho Camulos—once a stop on the  Southern Pacific rail line—was dubbed “The Home of Ramona” and was a must-see attraction for devotees of the novel.

Rancho Camulos Museum is a 40-acre NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK situated within an 1800 acre working ranch. It is the best remaining example of a Spanish-Mexican rancho in its original rural environment and is noted for its literary significance as the setting for Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona. Rancho Camulos is dedicated to researching, collecting, preserving and interpreting the diverse cultural heritage and agricultural history of Southern California from 1853 to 1943. Through restoration of its buildings and grounds, Rancho Camulos seeks to connect the past with the present by offering programs that will educate and enrich all audiences.

Regular Museum hours for public tours are on Sundays, 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Tours begin at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 pm. Suggested donation for a docent guided tour is $5.00 for adults / $3.00 for children. Please see our VISIT menu for more information.



Guest Lecture with Dr. John Johnson

“The Mysterious Tataviam: Original Inhabitants of Camulos” The Tataviam represent one of the least known of California Indian groups. Very little of their tribal history and unique language survived the Mission Period. By sifting through Spanish mission archives and records of early twentieth century anthropologists, our speaker retrieved rare pieces of information that shed light […]
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Trafalgar Day

Step back in time and observe this historical reenactment of the Napoleonic period. There will be a Regency style picnic with music and dance in honor of the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The $5 donation also includes a docent-led tour of the museum.
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Food! Wine! Film! Fun!

RANCHO CAMULOS PRESENTS THE “LOST” RAMONA! Join us for a festive dinner and a screening of film clips from the “lost” 1916 Ramona silent movie starring Adda Gleason. Panel discussion to follow led by film historians. $50 per person. Tickets for dinner and the film screening can be purchased by sending a check for the […]
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Rancho Camulos Day

A CELEBRATION OF EARLY CALIFORNIA! Meet some of the famous and not so famous people who made Rancho Camulos a bustling, hospitable and festive home in the nineteenth century. Costumed docents, house tours, hands on historical demonstrations, food for purchase. Cost: $5. Children, 12 and under, FREE
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