Spring Hours at Park Headquarters:
8am to 7pm - Everyday
Day Use Hours
6am to Sunset everyday
Backcounty Trail Camp Office:
9am to 5pm - Monday through 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 State Route 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:
English: Big Basin Redwoods State Park Brochure - English
Spanish: Big BasinRedwoods State Park Brochure - Spanish
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.
Please click on the "Activities and Programs" link to the right to read about all our upcoming free guided walks.
Location - Directions
The park is about 65 miles south of San Francisco. From Santa Cruz, travel approx 25 miles northwest via Highways 9 and 236 to reach Park Headquarters. Park Headquarters is 9 miles north of the town of Boulder Creek on State Hwy 236. All roads into Big Basin are curvy.
The Rancho Del Oso coastal unit of Big Basin is accessible on State Route 1, about 20 miles north of the city of Santa Cruz.
Click the "Getting Here" link above for a map with directions or the "Driving Routes" link to the right for detailed instructions. For bus service information, see http://www.mountainparks.org/big-basin/.
As of September 8, all bus service to Big Basin and Waddell Creek/Rancho Del Oso will be discontinued.
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.
Winter: Cold, overcast and rainy. Big Basin receives the majority of its average 48 inches of rain from December through March, with average temperatures ranging from highs in the 50s to lows in the 20s.
Spring: Cool with showers and morning and evening fog. Average daytime highs in the 60s, lows in the 30s to 40s.
Summer: Warm with cool nights and morning fog in early summer. Average highs 75 to 95, lows 40s to 50s.
Fall: Warm days to cold nights and occasional early rainstorms. Average highs 75 to 60s, lows 50s to 30. Often the best weather of the year.
• 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