Located along the coast some 21 miles north of San Diego, the reserve covers 1,750 acres of ecologically diverse seaside woodland, coastal shrubland, and salt marshes, along with a lagoon, miles of sand beaches, and scenic trails that wind along steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The torrey pine, an endangered, endemic species, is found only in the reserve, in bluffs north of La Jolla, and in Santa Rosa Island west of Los Angeles. The Pueblo Revival-style Guy and Margaret Fleming House, built in 1927 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, is located near the reserve’s northern edge.
Established on 364 acres of former pueblo land in 1899 by the San Diego City Council, the reserve was previously home to the Kumeyaay people. Beginning in 1921, naturalist Guy Fleming laid out the reserve’s first trail system. Los Angeles landscape architect Ralph Cornell created a restrained master plan for the park in 1922, advocating for the preservation of the natural landscape through the planting of native flora. A second ordinance in 1924 expanded Torrey Pines Park to nearly 1,000 acres, encompassing the cliffs, canyons, and mesas previously south of the site. In the late 1920s, architects Richard Requa and Herbert Jackson designed the Pueblo Revival-style Torrey Pines Lodge, which has since become the visitor center. In 1936 additional lots, including the present North and Parry Groves, were bequeathed to the city by journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, who had acquired the properties decades prior to protect them from overuse. Following a special city election, the site became a state park in 1959, which granted the reserve added protections. In 1970, an additional 197 acres were added to buffer the park from encroaching residential development and, in 2007, the name was changed to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.