Waddell Creek - Rancho Del Oso

Rancho del Oso

Join with a docent and see and explore the park with a guide: To find out more,  Click here or choose the Rancho del Oso guided hikes, talks and special events tab to the right.  

 Waddell Creek
This Portion of the park is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz off Highway 1. From Santa Cruz, turn right just before the Waddell Creek Bridge at the sign for Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center. From Half Moon Bay take Highway One south 30 miles and turn left after the Waddell Creek Bridge (2.6 miles south of Año Nuevo State Reserve).  For more information call (831) 427-2288 or (831) 425-1218

Waddell Creek and Rancho del Oso (a part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park) offer a variety of recreational opportunities.  

Six miles of road (a graded dirt fire road) meanders along the course of Waddell Creek. It is almost level for the entire length.  For bike rides along the fire road, we recommend only fat-tire bicycles be used as it is dirt and ruts will cause problems for a narrow tired "road bike". Helmets are required for young riders and recommended for all riders.  There are NO through trails to Big Basin, and NO single track trails are open to bicycles at Rancho del Oso or the main portions of Big Basin State Park.

A series of Backpack Trail Camps are spaced along the trail, with three being located within easy hiking distance from the Rancho del Oso park headquarters. Reservations are required to stay in the Back packing camps.  Please call 831-338-8861 to make reservations. The back pack trail camps are closed for the Winter months November 1st through April 30th.

There is also an Equestrian trail camp that (with reservations) allows riders to camp overnight with their horses. For reservations for the horse camp, please call 831-425-1218. Please note, Dogs are not allowed in any portion of Rancho del Oso, nor in the horse camp at any time.

Waddell Beach, located across Highway 1 from the park entrance, is known worldwide as one of THE spots for windsurfing and kite surfing. The steady strong North West winds and good surf provide ideal conditions for this demanding sport. Launching from the tops of incoming waves the best windsurfers can complete full loops and continue on their way. With the strong winds and occasionally heavy surf, Waddell Beach is not recommended for novice wind surfers. Regular surfers and boogie boarders also find it an ideal spot to pursue their activities.

A good place for bird watching is on the inland side of Hwy. 1 in the Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve.

Dogs are not allowed in any portion of Rancho del Oso nor on Waddell Beach.


Drive north from Santa Cruz on Hwy 1 for 17 miles to the Waddell Creek Bridge. Just before crossing the bridge, turn right at the sign and continue on the dirt road.

Visitor Center
Weekends Noon - 4pm, or by advance appointment for groups.

Call (831) 427-2288 on weekends for more details.