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On Location--Locally

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Who needs to dish out big bucks for one of those Hollywood studio tours when you can see movie magic for free near Agoura Hills?

That’s right. Free!

Two area ranches belonging to the National Park Service--that also happen to be popular Hollywood film sites--will offer tours on Saturday.

The first is the scenic, 700-acre Paramount Ranch, which doubles as the Colorado mining town in the television show “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

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Its lush, green rolling hills serve as the background for an old Western town, complete with a barber shop, saloon and sheriff station. There’s also a train track and station.

“There’s filming going on there year-round,” said Jean Bray of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Ten months out of the year they film ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’ and the rest of the time there’s all sorts of other projects going on.”

The public is welcome to watch the tapings as long as film regulations are followed.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday a park ranger will lead a group through Paramount Ranch’s diverse landscape. The one-hour tour includes an easy walk through the dusty Western town and covers the ranch’s history.

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“It’s a historical tour for the whole family,” said park ranger Ken Low. “We also cover a lot of filming history, from the 1920s to the present.”

The Sierra Club will offer a two-hour tour at 10 a.m. of nearby Peter Strauss Ranch, named after and formerly owned by the Emmy-award-winning actor.

This location, also a Hollywood favorite, features great landscaping that includes lush eucalyptus and oak groves and an exotic garden of cactus from Strauss’ renowned collection.

One of its most popular features is the patio of imported Italian terrazzo. It was the scene of big-band concerts and dances in the 1940s, and hosted country performers in the 1950s such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.

The surrounding area also has a creek and picturesque hiking trail.

If Hollywood is of no interest, then the Rancho Sierra Vista Satwiwa Site in Newbury Park may have more appeal. Free tours of the Native American Indian Culture Center will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Native American guests will lead walks, perform ceremonies and give demonstrations on native crafts such as stone carving, basket weaving and preparation of native foods.

The park, named after a Chumash village, is devoted to the preservation and interpretation of the Chumash and Tongva/Gabrielino tribes and the early Spanish ranchers.

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The scenic land includes a network of trails through grasslands and coastal sage chaparral, and a series of small waterfalls in a lush riparian forest graced with giant ferns.

BE THERE

Free tours will be offered at two locations Sat.: 9:30 a.m. at Paramount Ranch. From the Ventura Freeway, take Kanan Road south to Cornell Road. Go south to Paramount Ranch Road; 10 a.m. at nearby Peter Strauss Ranch. From Paramount Ranch, take Cornell Road south to Mulholland Highway, go west about three miles and watch for archway into parking lot.

On Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free tours will be offered at Rancho Sierra Vista Satwiwa Site. From the Ventura Freeway, take Wendy Drive south to Potrero Road. Go west to Pinehill Road. For information, call (818) 597-9192.


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