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Activities and Programs

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Events & Activities at Big Basin

All events and activities are free. Day-use parking fee is $10 per vehicle.

Events made possible by Mountain Parks Foundation, California State Park volunteers, and California State Parks.

MAY ACTIVITIES

Redwood Grove Loop Walk
Every Saturday and Sunday at 11 and 2
AND Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day) at 11 and 2
How do these grand redwoods grow to be so old? So tall? How are they important to humans? Join us for this fun and informative guided half-mile stroll through a magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Meet the famous Mother Tree, the Father of the Forest and the incredible Chimney Tree on this 90-minute walk. Stroller and wheelchair accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Exploring Big Basin Hike
EVERY Tuesday at 9 am
Learn about redwoods, forest plants, fires, history and more on these fun, varied hikes with Docents Paul and Eva Fewel and Diane Shaw. Hikes are 5-8 miles and last up to 5 hours. We go rain or shine, but strong winds may cancel. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Coffee Talk and Crafts
Saturday, May 27 from 9:30-12:30
Sunday, May 28 from 9:30-12:30
Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate! This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. A Big Basin Docent will be happy to answer your questions about the park and help get you going on the right trail. And bring the kids for a fun craft!

Hike to Buzzard’s Roost
Saturday, May 27 from 10-2
Develop your hiking muscles with this challenging 5-mile round trip to Buzzard’s Roost. Join Docent Steve Stolper for a hike to a dramatic rock formation with a commanding view of the park. We gain 1,200 feet in elevation on the way up. After a relaxed lunch on the rocks, we return to headquarters. Bring at least one liter of water, lunch, snacks, and appropriate clothingMeet at Park Headquarters.

Snakes Alive!
Saturday, May 27 from 12-3 pm
Why are snakes important to us? How do they see, smell, taste, hear? What and how do they eat? What does a snake feel like? Come to the Sempervirens Room at Park Headquarters and meet Docent Diane Shaw and learn about the fascinating world of snakes. Stop by anytime to meet the snake and talk to Diane.

Family Discovery Walk
Saturday, May 27 at 1 pm
Join Docent Norm Beeson for a fun-filled family walk and investigate the mysteries and wonders of Big Basin’s redwood forest! We’ll discover what surprises the day offers on this easy, one-mile roundtrip walk that lasts about 1.5 hours. Bring water, a snack and an adventurous spirit! Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Discover Big Basin Redwoods Hike!
Monday, May 29 at noon
Explore the park’s less travelled backcountry with Docent Barry Grimm. This moderately paced hike will be tailored to the group's interests. Based on group size, experience level and weather conditions, we will choose from the many trails that explore the park’s most scenic areas. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Junior Rangers
Saturday, May 27 at 3 pm
Sunday, May 28 at 3 pm
Monday, May 29 at 11 am
Discover the fascinating secrets of the forest! Explore and play games as you learn about plants, animals and more. This one-hour program is for kids ages 7-12. Sorry parents, this program is for kids only! Please register your child at the Nature Lodge 15 minutes before the program begins. Please be sure your child is dressed for active play in the outdoors.

Big Basin Nature Club
Saturday, May 27 at 4:30 pm
Sunday, May 28 at 4:30 pm
Monday, May 29 at 10 am
This fun program is for children ages 3-6 and their whole families. Pretend, play, sing and explore! This half-hour program will introduce youngsters to the wonders of the redwood forest. Meet at the Nature Lodge.

Campfire Programs
Saturday, May 27 at 7 pm
Sunday, May 28 at 7 pm
Join us in our historic campfire center for an evening of song and story. Serenade the glittering stars and learn about redwood ecology, creatures of the forest or stories of the park while relaxing in the shadows of the towering trees. Fire lighting and marshmallow roasting (we provide the marshmallows and sticks!) starts at 7 pm and the program begins at 7:30 pm. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Good dogs welcome! Meet at the Campfire Center.

JUNE ACTIVITIES

Redwood Grove Loop Walk
Every Saturday and Sunday at 11 and 2
How do these grand redwoods grow to be so old? So tall? How are they important to humans? Join us for this fun and informative guided half-mile stroll through a magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Meet the famous Mother Tree, the Father of the Forest and the incredible Chimney Tree on this 90-minute walk. Stroller and wheelchair accessible. Meet at Headquarters.

Exploring Big Basin Hike
EVERY Tuesday at 9 am
Learn about redwoods, forest plants, fires, history and more on these fun, varied hikes with Docents Paul and Eva Fewel and Diane Shaw. Hikes are 5-8 miles and last up to 5 hours. We go rain or shine, but strong winds may cancel. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Evening Campfire Programs
EVERY Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 pm
(programs start Saturday, June 3, so no programs June 1 and June 2)
Join us in our historic campfire center for an evening of song and story. Serenade the glittering stars and learn about redwood ecology, creatures of the forest or stories of the park while relaxing in the shadows of the towering trees. Fire lighting and marshmallows (we provide the sticks and marshmallows!) at 7 pm; program begins at 7:30 pm. Wheelchair, stroller accessible. Good dogs welcome!

Special Guest Campfire!
Nature’s Supermarket Campfire
EVERY Wednesday at 7 pm
How would you make dinner if you lived in Big Basin 500 years ago? No supermarkets, no stoves, not even pots and pans…. Join Ranger Alex Tabone to find out how as we take a look at Nature’s Supermarket and make dinner the way it was done by the native Ohlone people 500 years ago! You even get to taste our creation!

Drop-In Style Afternoon Apple Roasting
EVERY Tuesday from 3:30-5 pm
Drop by anytime between 3:30-5 pm at our historic campfire and enjoy roasting ranger apples and marshmallows, playing games, listening to tunes and making some fun crafts! Touch and learn about the skulls and pelts of Big Basin animals.

Animal Detectives Campfire
Tuesday, June 13 at 5 pm
AND Tuesday, June 27 at 5 pm
Marshmallows: 5-5:30, Campfire: 5:30-6:30
Can you guess an animal by the signs it leaves? Be a detective: look at the signs (tracks, scat, sounds) of Big Basin animals, and see if you can figure out who left the clues! All are welcome, but this earlier campfire will be geared toward a younger audience. Fire lighting and marshmallows (we provide the sticks and marshmallows!) at 5 pm; program begins at 5:30 pm. Wheelchair, stroller accessible. Good dogs welcome!

Junior Rangers
EVERY Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm
Wednesday at 1 pm (except no program Wednesday, June 21)
(programs start Saturday, June 3, so no programs June 1 and June 2)
Discover the fascinating secrets of the forest! Explore, practice outdoor skills and play games as you learn about plants, animals, geology, and more. This one-hour program is designed for kids ages 7-12. Sorry parents, this program is for kids only! Please register your child at the Nature Lodge Museum 15 minutes before the program begins. Please be sure your child is dressed for active play in the outdoors.

Special Two-Hour Junior Rangers
EVERY Tuesday at 10:15 am (except no program Tuesday, June 20)
This special 2-hour Junior Rangers is for kids ages 7-12 only. We’ll be taking a hike, so make sure your Junior Ranger dresses appropriately, with closed-toe shoes. Please register your child 15 minutes before the program at the Nature Lodge Museum.

Big Basin Nature Club
EVERY Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 4:30 pm
Tuesday at 1:30 pm and Wednesday at 2:30 pm (except no program Wednesday, June 21)
(programs start Saturday, June 3, so no programs June 1 and June 2)
This fun program is designed for children ages 3-6 and their families. Pretend, play, sing and explore! This half-hour program will introduce youngsters to the wonders of the redwood forest. Meet at the Nature Lodge.

A Walk in the Past
Saturday, June 3 at 10 am
No Safeway? No Home Depot? No Pharmacy? How did the Ohlone Indians survive? Take a walk with Docent Eva Fewel and learn about some of the plants the Ohlones used for food, tools and medicine. This is a 4-mile, 2.5-hour walk. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Felling the Giants (Logging Demonstration!)
Saturday, June 3 at 11:30 am
How did lumbermen cut down these tall, tall trees? What was life like in a logging camp? What tools did they use? Join Docent Paul Fewel as he tells stories of the logging days and demonstrates how loggers were able to fell these giants—without chainsaws! You get to use some tools too! Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Coffee Talk and Crafts
Saturday, June 3 from 9:30-12:30
AND Saturday, June 10 from 9-12
AND Saturday, June 17 from 9:30-12:30
Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate! This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. Docent Norm Beeson will be happy to answer your questions about the park and help get you going on the right trail. And bring the kids for a fun craft!

Story Time Walk
Saturday, June 3 from 1-1:30 pm
Bring the whole family and join us for a walking story time! Starting at Park Headquarters, we’ll walk through ancient redwoods while reading a story about an animal, forest, bird, insect–who knows? We’ll stop and read one page, walk a bit then read the next page until we finish the story. We’ll end up at the historic campfire circle and gather for Nature’s Reading Room, where you can choose from a wide variety of books about trees, animals, birds, bugs and more for the whole family to read together. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Nature’s Reading Room
Saturday, June 3 from 1:30-3 pm
Come sit in our beautiful campfire center, under ancient redwoods—nature’s reading room—and choose a book or two to read with your family. Drop by anytime between 1:30-3:00 and Docent Norm Beeson will help you find the perfect book for your family to enjoy. Nature’s Reading Room is at our campfire center, across from Park Headquarters.

Meteor Trail Hike
Sunday, June 4 at 10 am
AND Saturday, June 24 at 10 am
Join Docent Hal Anjo on one of our most diverse hikes—by mountain streams, oak woodlands, chaparral and redwoods. You’ll discuss forests, flowers and fires on a six-mile, 3.5-hour hike. This somewhat strenuous ascent is rewarded with ocean views on a clear day. Bring water, lunch and good hiking shoes. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Here Comes the Sun! Sun Telescope!
Saturday, June 10 from 11 am to 1 pm
Come to the Campfire Center and look through a solar telescope at the Sun. You'll see sunspots, solar prominences and other features of our closest star as you learn about the parts of the Sun and how it shines. There will be Sun-related activities for the kids. Conducted by Steve Widmark of the Santa Cruz Astronomy Club.

Discover Big Basin Redwoods Hike!
Sunday, June 4 at noon
AND Saturday, June 10 at noon
AND Sunday, June 11 at noon
AND Sunday, June 18 at noon
AND Sunday, June 25 at noon
Explore the park’s less travelled backcountry with Docent Barry Grimm. This moderately paced hike will be tailored to the group’s interests. Based on group size, experience level and weather conditions, we’ll choose from the many trails that explore the park’s most scenic areas. Meet at Park Headquarters.


Volunteer with the Trail Crew
Saturday, June 10 at 9 am
Since 1969 the Big Basin Volunteer Trail Crew has helped make it possible for others to safely enjoy the beauty of our park. The Trail Crew meets the second Saturday of each month, rain or shine. A typical workday lasts until mid-afternoon. Please bring your own work gloves, lunch and water. Join us for a unique perspective of Big Basin, a lively and productive experience with others who share a love of these redwood forests, and the satisfaction of participating in a vital part of the park's ability to educate and inspire the public! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Wildflower Walk!
Saturday, June 17 at 10 am
There are many less-famous, yet still beautiful, plants in the redwood forest. Join Docents Kathy Willott and Glenn Joy on this four-mile, three-hour walk and meet some of the hidden gems of Big Basin! Bring water and lunch. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Family Discovery Walk
Saturday, June 17 at 1 pm
Join Docent Norm Beeson for a fun-filled family walk and investigate the mysteries and wonders of Big Basin’s redwood forest! We’ll discover what surprises the day offers on this easy, one-mile roundtrip walk that lasts about 1.5 hours. Bring water, a snack and an adventurous spirit! Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.

The Road Less Traveled—A Dog-Friendly Walk
Sunday, June 18 at 10 am
On this dog-, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly walk, we travel North Escape Road, a paved road closed to traffic. We tour stunning old-growth redwood groves along beautiful Opal Creek. We'll discuss redwood ecology and park history while exploring the deep shade of the redwood forest. This is a fun, easy, 3-mile, 2-hour walk with Docent Diane Shaw. Dogs not required, but welcome! Bring water and meet at Park Headquarters.

The Men of Big Basin—A Father’s Day Special Event
Sunday, June 18 at 1 pm
Celebrate Father’s Day by honoring some of the remarkable men who lived in, worked in and fought for Big Basin. Living history re-enactments bring you back in time where you’ll meet pioneer settlers, Big Basin founders and early park rangers. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this half-mile, 1.5-hour walking play. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Snakes Alive!
Saturday, June 24 from 12-3 pm
Why are snakes important to us? How do they see, smell, taste, hear? What and how do they eat? What does a snake feel like? Come to the Sempervirens Room at Park Headquarters and meet Docent Diane Shaw and learn about the fascinating world of snakes. Stop by anytime to meet the snake and talk to Diane.

Survivor—Big Basin Walk: Dinosaurs in Big Basin?
Sunday, June 25 at noon
This fun program about plant and animal survival through the ages is for school age kids and parents, but anyone who can make the fairly flat 1-mile walk is welcome! Docents Micki Downs and Maura McNamara share child-friendly redwood information and activities on this beautiful trail. Free play time in an awesome redwood fairy ring will give the adults a chance to explore deeper forest issues. Dinosaurs will be highlighted! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Annual Events

Romance in the Redwoods
Sunday February 12, 2017 at 11:30 am
On this easy 2 hour walk you will learn about the courtship behaviors of some of the park's most fascinating plants and animals. Join us and discover how banana slugs, redwood trees and more celebrate love in the wild! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Salamander Saturday
Saturday March 4, 2017 from Noon to 4 pm
Join us as the “Ranch of the Bear” becomes “Ranch of the Newt,” celebrating our amphibian friends that make their way from beneath rocks and under logs to the creeks, wetlands and puddles of the park.  Participate in our annual celebration honoring the often overlooked, but heroically well adapted amphibian. Live amphibians will be available for viewing. Ranger led salamander hike will start at 3 pm on the mile long Marsh Trail. This free event is appropriate for all ages. The Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, at 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport. Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is not accessible by vehicle from Big Basin Headquarters off of Highway 236. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288, or email parksRDOPIS@parks.ca.gov.

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Wildflower Weekend
Saturday, April 22, 2017 from Noon to 4 pm
Sunday, April 23, 2017 from Noon to 4 pm
Winter rains promise a profusion of spring wildflowers in the Waddell Valley. Come see them on display in the Rancho del Oso Nature Center and visit them on the park's trails during the Rancho del Oso Wildflower Weekend. You will see buttercups, shooting stars and western wake robin included in this annual exhibit of over fifty native plants in flower and several non-native species that are found in the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The assortment of flower shapes, sizes, colors and forms are a delight to the senses. This free event is appropriate for all ages. The Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, at 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport. Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is not accessible by vehicle from Big Basin Headquarters off of Highway 236. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288, or email parksRDOPIS@parks.ca.gov.

Mother’s Day Walk: Women of Big Basin
Sunday May 14, 2017 at 1 pm
Celebrate Mother’s Day in the park by honoring the spirited women who lived in, worked in and fought for Big Basin throughout its history.  Living history reenactments bring you back in time where you will meet pioneer homemaker Alice Maddock; Josephine McCrackin, the “Savior of the Redwoods” and Harriet “Petey” Weaver, the first female Ranger. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this 0.5 mile, 1 hour guided walk. Meet at Park Headquarters. This walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

The Men of Big Basin—A Father’s Day Special Event
Sunday June 18, 2017 at 1 pm
Celebrate Father’s Day by honoring some of the remarkable men who lived in, worked in and fought for Big Basin. Living history re-enactments bring you back in time where you will meet pioneer settlers, Big Basin founders and early park rangers. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this half mile, 1.5 hour guided walk. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Fourth of July Weekend Celebration and Talent Show!
Saturday July 1, 2017 at 7 pm
Come and celebrate Independence Day with a campfire, sing-a-long and talent show! If you have a skit, poem, song or a talent you would like to share, sign up at headquarters in advance. All 3-5 minute presentations should be appropriate for all ages. Fire lighting and marshmallows (we provide the sticks and marshmallows!) at 7 pm; program begins at 7:30 pm.

Tales of the Basin—A Storytelling Weekend Event
July 28 to 30, 2017, Various times and locations throughout the weekend.
The oral storytelling tradition comes to life with the ancient redwood forest as a backdrop. Events throughout the weekend include Big Basin Nature Tails for children of all ages, guided walks that spin a yarn along the trail and a Storyteller Showcase in the historic Campfire Center. Presented in collaboration with South Bay Storytellers and Listeners.

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Grizzly Bear Festival
Saturday September 2, 2017 from Noon to 4 pm
Come to Rancho del Oso for a day of commemorating the once-abundant predator that roamed this "Ranch of the Bear." Discover what they ate, how they lived, and what made this area famous for its grizzly population.  Throughout the day there will be crafts and activities for all ages. Come visit the Nature and History Center to hear stories about this powerful animal! This free event is appropriate for all ages. Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, at 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport. Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is not accessible by vehicle from Big Basin Headquarters off of Highway 236. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288, or email parksRDOPIS@parks.ca.gov.

Big Basin Founders’ Day and Redwood Jubilee
Saturday September 30, 2017 from 9 am to 8 pm
Celebrate our wild heritage with a melodrama, historic hikes and games for kids as we honor the visionaries, valued workers and visitors that have shaped the character of Big Basin over the past 100+ years. Revel in the beauty of the majestic old growth redwoods that inspired the movement to Save the Trees! 

The Missing Arm
Saturday October 21, 2017; Registration begins at 6:30 pm
History takes a tall tale twist as the saga of this early pioneer unfolds. The silly, slightly haunting tours around the redwood loop trail begin at 7 pm. Enjoy the redwoods on a fall night with music, storytelling and “Ranger Apples” around the campfire. All participants must register at Park Headquarters (registration opens at 6:30 pm).

Events made possible by Mountain Parks Foundation, Waddell Creek Association, California State Park Volunteers, and California State Parks.