Rancho Del Oso - Big Basin Redwoods State Park
There is no vehicle access through the park from Big Basin Headquarters to Rancho del Oso; this portion of the park is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz off Highway 1.
Welcome to Rancho del Oso
Waddell Beach and Rancho del Oso (the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park) offer a variety of recreational opportunities.
Events & Activities at Rancho del Oso
Please click here for a list of guided hikes, presentations, special events, and more.
NATURAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY CENTER
To reach the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center from Santa Cruz, turn right 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 Park). For more information call the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center at (831) 427-2288.
The ranger station interpretive center on the Skyline to the Sea Trail is located located ¼ mile inland from the yellow gate across from Waddell State Beach parking lot. Hours vary, please call for details.
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.
HIKING and BACKPACKING
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 Backpacking camps. Please call 831-338-8861 to make reservations from 9 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday. The backpack trail camps are closed for the Winter, from November 1st through April 30th.
HORSE BACK RIDING
There is a Horse Camp that, with reservations, allows riders to camp overnight with their horses. For reservations for the Horse Camp, please call Big Basin Headquarters at 831-338-8861. Please note, dogs are not allowed in any portion of Rancho del Oso, including the Horse Camp.
SURFING, WINDSURFING, & KITEBOARDING
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 Highway One in the Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve.
Dogs are not allowed in any portion of Rancho del Oso nor on Waddell Beach.
Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is within the coastal section of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is just 17 miles north of Santa Cruz (7½ miles north of Davenport), and 30 miles south of Half Moon Bay (59 miles south of San Francisco).The main facilities of the park are divided by Waddell Creek with the Ranger Station and main hiking trails on the north side and the Nature Center on the south side. The only connecting road for vehicles is Hwy 1.
From Santa Cruz:
Take Mission St./Highway 1 to the western edge of town. Continue on Highway 1 through the town of Davenport (9 miles). The entrance to the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is another 1.3 miles ahead at the bottom of a long grade right before the Waddell Creek Bridge.
Look for the small brown “Nature Center” sign on the right, then slow, and prepare to make the next right onto a dirt road. The Nature Center is approximately 1/4 mile inland.
The road to the Ranger Station is on the north side of Waddell Creek Bridge ¼ mile inland from the yellow gate across from Waddell State Beach parking lot.
Parking beyond the gate is for Horse Camp and backpackers only. Permits required.
Day hikers and cyclists can park along Highway 1 or in the lot adjacent to Waddell Beach.
From Half Moon Bay:
Take Highway 1 South, past the town of Pescadero, Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and Año Nuevo State Park.
The yellow gate on the road to the Ranger Station and hiking trails is on the left side of Highway 1, across from the Waddell Beach parking lot. Parking beyond the gate is for Horse Camp and backpackers only. Permits required.
Day hikers and cyclists can park in the lot adjacent to Waddell Beach or on the inland side of Highway 1. The Ranger Station and hiking trails are located approximately one mile beyond the gate.
The entrance to Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center located on the south side of the Waddell Creek Bridge on the left onto the dirt road. The nature Center is approximately 1/4 mile inland.