Rancho Del Oso - Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Welcome to Rancho del Oso
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.
Waddell Beach and Rancho del Oso (a part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park) offer a variety of recreational opportunities. For a schedule of park activities, Click here or choose the Rancho del Oso guided hikes, upcoming activities and special events tab to the right.
To reach the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center 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 Park). For more information call the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center at (831) 427-2288. There is also a small ranger station interpretive center on the Skyline to the Sea Trail about 1 mile walk in from the entrance gate. 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.
There is also 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.
WINDSURFING AND 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.
Please click here for a downloadable list of programmed events at in area California State Parks.