Park Headquarters: 8am-8pm (summer hrs)
Day Use Park Hours: 6am-Sunset
Backcounty Trail Camp Office: 9am-5pm (Monday-Friday)
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Visiting Big Basin Redwoods State Park
“Imagine a time when the whole peninsula from San Francisco to San Jose shall become one great city; then picture, at its very doorstep, this magnificent domain of redwood forests and running streams, the breathing place of millions of cramped and crowded denizens of the city.”
– Carrie Stevens Walter, Sempervirens Club, 1901
Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 2,500 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.
Each season provides a different park experience. During wet winters, the intense greens of mosses contrast with the subtle colors of lichens and mushrooms. Rushing waterfalls and wildflowers abound in the cool, foggy spring. In summer, the park is a shady getaway from inland heat. Fall may be the most hospitable season, without storms or extreme heat.
Big Basin’s coastal unit, Rancho del Oso, lies on Highway 1, about 20 miles north of the city of Santa Cruz. It cannot be accessed by vehicle from the Big Basin headquarters.
Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, park vegetation consists of old-growth and recovering redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The climate ranges from foggy and damp near the ocean to sunny, warm ridge tops.
The park has more than 80 miles of trails. Be sure and pick up a map at park headquarters before your hike, and view the multimedia kiosk in the Sempervirens Room next to park headquarters. There you will find great information, photos, and video of some of the most popular trails.
Some of these trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh.
The park has a surprising number of waterfalls, a wide variety of environments (from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes), many animals (deer, raccoons, bobcats) and lots of bird life—including Steller’s jays, egrets, herons and California woodpeckers.
Dogs are permitted in the campsites, picnic areas, and on paved roads only. They must be on a leash and attended at all times. Dogs ARE NOT permitted on any of the trails.
This is a Crumb Clean Park
Big Basin Redwoods SP, Big Basin Tent Cabins, Little Basin Redwoods SP, and the Backpack Trail Camps are Crumb Clean.
Visitors are required to watch this short video about the impact your food has on park wildlife.
Volunteers in Parks
Docents share the park's natural and cultural history with visitors. Click the link for an application to mail in DPR208h.xls or call (831) 338-8883. Please visit the Campground and Park Hosts page for information about becoming a camp host at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Join our trail crew! http://www.bbvtc.org/
• All natural and cultural features in the park are protected by law and may not be disturbed or removed. Collecting is prohibited, including downed wood.
• Purchase firewood from the park store.
• Be prepared for mosquitoes in summer.
• Feeding wildlife is prohibited by law.
• Dispose of all trash properly and don't leave it out in your campsite where animals can get to it. Recycle glass, plastic, and aluminum.
• Except for service animals, dogs are not allowed on any trails, unpaved service/fire roads, in any portion of the Rancho del Oso area, or on Waddell Beach at any time. All dogs must be on a leash and attended at all times.
Available Activities and Facilities at Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Hike or Bike Campsites
RV Dump Station
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available