8 am - Sunset
“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, many babbling brooks, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.
A new chapter in Big Basin's story began on August 18, 2020, when the CZU Lightning Complex Fire swept through 97% of the park's property. The fire destroyed all historic structures and radically changed the landscape. The park now looks very different from how generations of visitors experienced it, but it is steadily recovering. Most of the old-growth redwood trees survived, new plant life is vigorously growing, and many animals have returned to the area. The Reimagining Big Basin project is managing the multi-year process of rebuilding park facilities and infrastructure.
Big Basin is still home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco. Park vegetation consists of fire-impacted old-growth and 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 a variety of habitats (from damp canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes), animals (deer, raccoons, bobcats) and bird life—including dark-eyed juncos, acorn woodpeckers, Steller's jays, marbled murrelets, and fire-following lazuli buntings.
Big Basin’s coastal unit, Rancho del Oso, is accessible off Highway 1 in Davenport, about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz.
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 – see some of the biggest and oldest trees in the park on this 0.6 mile (1 km) flat loop trail, marvel at their many adaptations that helped them survive the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and feel 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. Learn more about Rancho del Oso and the West Waddell Creek State Wilderness.
HIKING - Please check current trail conditions while planning your hike. Before the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, Big Basin had over 100 miles of backcountry roads and trails. With several trails and fire roads reopened (and on-going recovery work that will allow more to reopen in the future), visitors again have the chance to leave developed areas, pass through old-growth redwood forest, follow meandering creeks, and climb to ridge top vistas. Hikes can range from quick loops and half day hikes to all day adventures into the backcountry. View recommended hikes and current trail conditions.
BICYCLING - Bicycles are allowed on all fire roads. Please check the park map for details on where bicycles are allowed.
EQUESTRIANS - Horses are allowed on all fire roads. Please check the park map for details on where horses are allowed. No horse trailer parking at this time.
PARK EVENTS - A variety of free interpretive programs are offered throughout the year. View a list of upcoming events and activities.
BIG BASIN ART ABOUT - In 2023, 18 local artists were chosen to participate in the Big Basin Art About project. After completing an inspirational CASPBA backpacking trip through Big Basin, each artist created a piece of art in their chosen medium focused on Big Basin and its renewal after the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. The art pieces will be displayed in Big Basin at the end of 2023 and will be permanently displayed in a visitor center exhibit at the park in the future. Meet the artists and learn more at the Big Basin Art About webpage!
FEES – There is a vehicle day-use fee. Parking reservations are highly recommended due to limited spaces. Regular sized autos are $6 plus $2 reservation fee or $10 per vehicle without a reservation. Reserve a parking space. No oversized vehicles or trailers can be accommodated for day-use parking currently. There is no fee or reservation needed at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center.
DOGS are allowed in the parking lot area and the first mile of North Escape Road. Dogs must be on leash at all times. As paved roads are repaired, dog access will increase. Dogs are not allowed in any portion of the Rancho del Oso area, or on Waddell State Beach.
HORSES are allowed on all fire roads. Horses are not permitted on any trails. No horse trailer parking available at this time.
BICYCLES are allowed on all fire roads. Bikes are not permitted on any trails.
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 visit their website.
SANTA CRUZ METRO offers weekend service in the summer months to the park on Bus Route 35. View bus schedule and more information.
IF YOU ARE TAKING A RIDESHARE SERVICE TO THE PARK, be sure the service will also pick you up from the park. Some services will drop off at Big Basin, but will not return to pick you up.
California State Parks Backpacking Adventures offers naturalist-led backpacking trips through the Santa Cruz Mountains each summer. Online registration opens March 1 at 9am.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is Crumb Clean! Feeding wildlife is prohibited by law. Dispose of all food and trash properly and don't leave any behind where animals can get to it. Recycle glass, plastic, and aluminum.
Watch this short video to learn about the marbled murrelet, an endangered bird that nests in the park, and how you can protect it by being Crumb Clean. Vea el video en español aquí.
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 visit our Volunteering page.