UPDATE (June 23, 2020) - As California State Parks begins working with locals on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved, it is important for visitors to continue to practice physical distancing and avoid congregating with people outside their immediate household. Everyone has the responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Here are some guidelines for people visiting Big Basin Redwoods State Park:
What is open now?
Parking is now available.
Restrooms will be partially reopened. Trails will be open for access.
Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with the Santa Cruz County health order.
Parking is available in the Waddell Beach lot.
Camping is now available at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, including the Little Basin Campground. Group campsites will remain closed. For more information about camping, visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping. To make a reservation, visit www.ReserveCalifornia.com or call 800-444-7275. Walk-ins will NOT be allowed.
What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
Many campgrounds across the state remain closed until further notice. Some campgrounds have started to reopen with modifications. For more information, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19Camping.
High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.
Are there any new visitor guidelines?
Yes, please see below:
Stay Local: Stay close to home. Walk or bike into the park. Parking is very limited. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.
Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails.
Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors will be asked to leave if there are too many people at the park, beach or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
Stay Covered: The state now requires you to wear a face covering in most indoor settings and public outdoor spaces when you cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet or more from people outside of your immediate household. For details, please visit CDPH’s guidance here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.
Thank you for your patience and continued support of California State Parks as we work to limit your risk for exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. For more information, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.
The park is 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz via Highways 9 and 236 and about 65 miles south of San Francisco. All roads into Big Basin are curvy. From Hwy 9 in the town of Boulder Creek, turn north onto Hwy 236 and Park Headquarters is 9 miles down the highway.
The Rancho Del Oso coastal unit of Big Basin is accessible via Highway 1, about 20 miles north of the city of Santa Cruz.
Be advised: Ride sharing and car sharing apps such as Uber and Zip Car are not a great way to get to Big Basin. There is no cell phone service near park headquarters and many people have used ride sharing and car sharing apps to get to Big Basin only to find that they are not able to activate their Zip Car or get a ride back home.
Online reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations can be made 6 months in advance
beginning at 8:00 a.m. PST via the website, by mail, or by calling the toll free telephone number at 1-800-444-7275. Due to seasonal volume, access to the ReserveCalifornia website and the telephone line may at times be limited.
Backcountry Trail Camps
For more information and reservations for Lane, Jay, Sunset, Twin Redwoods and Alder Trail Camps, please visit the Santa Cruz Mountain State Parks Backcountry Trail Camp Page.
Hike or Bike Campsites
RV Dump Station
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available
Connect with California State Parks virtually! Big Basin Redwoods State Park is offering live video programs on Facebook during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Follow Big Basin Redwoods State Park’s Facebook page to be notified when they go live!
Parking at Big Basin Filling to Capacity
Day Use Parking at Big Basin Redwoods State Park has been filling to capacity on weekends and holidays during the summer season from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
Traffic on the winding mountain roads can be heavy at times and visitors can expect long delays while making their way to Park Headquarters.
We will make every effort to accommodate all of our visitors, but if we run out of parking, we will have to turn people away.
DO NOT call to ask if we have parking available. Demand for parking is dynamic and Park Staff will not be able to give you accurate information as to whether we will have parking when you arrive.
Please follow these tips for your best chance to get parking:
Come During the Week – Beat the crowds and come on a weekday!
Arrive Early – Parking typically fills up after noon. Parking opens at 6am and Park Headquarters opens at 8am. The earlier you arrive the better chance you have to find a spot. If you arrive before Park Headquarters opens, you can self-register for and pay for parking. Please bring cash and exact change to self-register. Day use parking is $10.00 per vehilce.
Take Highway 236 North into Big Basin from Boulder Creek – Highway 236 between Park Headquarters and the town of Boulder Creek is less windy, wider, and typically has less traffic than Highway 236 north of Park Headquarters. We recommend arriving from the south for a safer drive and shorter delays.
Do Not Park along the Highway or in Undesignated Areas – Parking is not permitted along Highway 236 within a few miles of Park Headquarters. Parking in Undesignated areas can lead to citation.
Be Patient – Park Staff are making every effort to accommodate all our visitors as quickly as possible. Please be patient and follow their directions.
By following these tips, you will have the best chance to get parking. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to accommodate all of our visitors during the busy summer season.
Trail Closures in Effect for Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Please check the Trails and Hiking Page for details on trail closures and current conditions.
Visiting Big Basin Redwoods
“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 1,800 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.
Big Basin’s coastal unit, Rancho del Oso, is accessible off Highway 1 in Davenport, about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz.
Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, park vegetation consists of old-growth and recovering second-growth redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet.
The park has more than 80 miles of 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 number of waterfalls, a variety of habitats (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.
Coming Soon: A new Nature Museum experience at Big Basin!
Another page has been turned in the long history of Big Basin. The Nature Museum, the original exhibit design facility for the California State Parks system, has been closed for renovation. It will reopen in Spring 2020 with all new exhibits that combine a new interactive experience with the park's traditional natural history focus that park visitors have known and loved for over 100 years.
"Big Basin Redwoods State Park, our oldest California State Park, holds a great history of citizen participation, caring and preserving of our natural resources. This visitor center experience will inspire visitors to see that they, too, can make a difference that benefits the natural world that surrounds them, and future generations as well." - Susan Blake, State Park Interpreter I
Things to Do
EXPERIENCE THE REDWOODS - Big Basin Redwoods State Park preserves more than 18,000 acres. This unique ecosystem of ancient coast redwood trees has captured the interest and dedication of many people throughout time. Visit the Redwood Loop Trail – grab a self-guided trail brochure at park headquarters for this 0.5 mile (1 km) flat and wheel chair accessable loop trail and discover the survival adaptation of the coast redwood and the inspiration this grove holds that led to its protection.
RANCHO DEL OSO NATURE & HISTORY CENTER - Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, off of Highway 1. It is across Highway 1 from Waddell State Beach, located in the Waddell Valley. To learn more about the Rancho del Oso and the West Waddell Creek State Wilderness, please click here.
HIKING - Please check current trail conditionswhile planning your hike. Big Basin has over 83 miles of backcountry roads and trails. These trails can offer the chance to leave delevloped areas, pass through old growth redwood forest, past water falls, climb to ridge top vistas and hike all the way to the sea. Hikes can range from quick loops and half day hikes to all day adventures into the backcounty and multiday backpacking trips. For recommend hikes and current trail conditions, please click here.
BICYCLING - Bicycles are allowed on all fire roads and on the multi use section of Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail. Please check the Park Map, for details on where bicycles are allowed.
EQUESTRIANS - Bicycles are allowed on all fire roads, on the multi use section of Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail as well as other deignated horse trails such as Westridge Trail and Henry Creek Trail. Please check the Park Map, for details on where horses are allowed. Big Basin also has a horse campground and horse staging area ar Rancho Del Oso near Waddell Beach. For Horse Camp Resverations, please call Park Headquarters at 831-338-8861.
PARK EVENTS - We offer a variety of free interpretive programs throughout the year. To see a list of upcoming events and activities, please click here.
CAMPING – Big Basin has several camping options for those wanting to experiance the redwoods for more then one day. Big Basin has Standard Campsites, Group Camps, Tent Cabins, horse camps and backcountry trail camps. For more information on camping options, please click here.
BACKPACKING - There are 5 backcountry trail camps with in Big Basin Redwoods State Park that require reservations. There are additional backcountry trail camps in surrounding State Parks that can link to Big Basin such as Castle Rock State Park and Butano State Park. The Skyline to the Sea Trail begins at Castle Rock State Park, and ends at Rancho Del Oso and Waddell State Beach. For more information about backcountry trail camps and to make reservations, please click here.
Naturalist-led backpackingtrips are offered during the summer season in the Santa Cruz Mountains through the California State Parks Backpacking Adventures program. For more information, please click here.
Basic Park Information
FEES – There is a vehicle day-use fee for the day-use area and the campground. Regular sized autos ($10), seniors age 62 or older ($9), bus parking 10-24 passengers ($50), and bus parking for 25+ passengers ($100). There is no fee at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center.
Camping is $35 a night, plus $10 fee per night for additional vehicles.
DOGS are allowed in the campsites, picnic areas, and on paved roads. They must be on a leash and attended at all times. Dogs are not permitted on any of the trails or fire roads excluding the campground connector trail from Sempervirens and Blooms Creek campgrounds to park headquarters. Dogs are not allowed in any portion of the Rancho del Oso area, or on Waddell State Beach.
Dogs are allowed on North Escape, a 2.5-mile one-way (5-mile round trip) paved road that is mostly gated off to cars and alongside old-growth redwoods, a creek, and lush undergrowth.
HORSES are allowed on:
All fire roads
Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail.
China Grade to the Toll Road Interconnector Trail
Trails: McCrary Ridge Trail, East Ridge Trail, Last Chance Trail, Clark Connector Trail Westridge Trail, Henry Creek Trail, and the Basin Trail.
BICYCLES are allowed on all fire roads and on the Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail.
DRONES are not allowed in the park. To protect wildlife and cultural resources, and for the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is closed to the use of Model Aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Gliders in flight.
PROFESSIONAL/COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILMING requires a permit through the California Film Commission. For more information, please click here.
Big Basin Redwoods SP, Big Basin Tent Cabins, Little Basin Redwoods SP, and the Backpack Trail Camps are Crumb Clean. 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.
Visitors are required to watch this short video about the impact your food has on park wildlife.
Volunteers in Parks
Do you enjoy nature and being outdoors? Do you feel a strong sense of giving to the community, promoting conservation and stewardship, and sharing knowledge with others? You can join our stewardship team and help connect park visitors to our natural and cultural resources. For more information, please click here.