Update (May 27, 2021): Whether an experienced outdoor enthusiast or a new one, park visitors must continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.
Protect yourself, family, friends and your community from COVID-19 by following these prevention measures while recreating in California’s State Park System:
Know Before You Go – Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick.
Plan Ahead – Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
Play It Safe – Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
Keep Your Distance – Avoid crowds. If there are too many people at a park or beach, please visit on a different day.
Everyone: In indoor settings, such as museums and visitor centers, face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status.
Fully Vaccinated Persons: Face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events.
Unvaccinated Persons: Face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Leave No Trace – Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.
Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.
This park unit is partially open. Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and what COVID-19 guidelines are in place.
What is open now?
Select areas of Rancho del Oso subunit (access via Highway 1):
Waddell Beach and parking lot
Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center starting May 29
Marsh Trail starting May 29
Rancho del Oso park road starting May 29
Parking lots starting May 29
Restrooms starting May 29
What is currently closed?
Rancho del Oso Welcome Center
Hoover Nature Trail
All other areas of Big Basin, including historic core
The park is 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz via Highways 9 and 236 and about 65 miles south of San Francisco. All roads into Big Basin are curvy. From Hwy 9 in the town of Boulder Creek, turn north onto Hwy 236 and Park Headquarters is 9 miles down the highway.
The Rancho Del Oso coastal unit of Big Basin is accessible via Highway 1, about 20 miles north of the city of Santa Cruz.
Be advised: Ride sharing and car sharing apps such as Uber and Zip Car are not a great way to get to Big Basin. There is no cell phone service near park headquarters and many people have used ride sharing and car sharing apps to get to Big Basin only to find that they are not able to activate their Zip Car or get a ride back home.
Online reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations can be made 6 months in advance
beginning at 8:00 a.m. PST via the website, by mail, or by calling the toll free telephone number at 1-800-444-7275. Due to seasonal volume, access to the ReserveCalifornia website and the telephone line may at times be limited.
Backcountry Trail Camps
For more information and reservations for Lane, Jay, Sunset, Twin Redwoods and Alder Trail Camps, please visit the Santa Cruz Mountain State Parks Backcountry Trail Camp Page.
Hike or Bike Campsites
RV Dump Station
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available
Visiting Big Basin Redwoods
“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, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.
Big Basin’s coastal unit, Rancho del Oso, is accessible off Highway 1 in Davenport, about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz.
Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, park vegetation consists of old-growth and recovering 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 more than 80 miles of trails. Some of these trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh.
The park has a number of waterfalls, a variety of habitats (from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes), many animals (deer, raccoons, bobcats) and lots of bird life—including Steller’s jays, egrets, herons and California woodpeckers.
Coming Soon: A new Nature Museum experience at Big Basin!
Another page has been turned in the long history of Big Basin. The Nature Museum, the original exhibit design facility for the California State Parks system, has been closed for renovation. It will reopen in Spring 2020 with all new exhibits that combine a new interactive experience with the park's traditional natural history focus that park visitors have known and loved for over 100 years.
"Big Basin Redwoods State Park, our oldest California State Park, holds a great history of citizen participation, caring and preserving of our natural resources. This visitor center experience will inspire visitors to see that they, too, can make a difference that benefits the natural world that surrounds them, and future generations as well." - Susan Blake, State Park Interpreter I
Things to Do
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 – grab a self-guided trail brochure at park headquarters for this 0.5 mile (1 km) flat and wheel chair accessable loop trail and discover the survival adaptation of the coast redwood and 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. To learn more about the Rancho del Oso and the West Waddell Creek State Wilderness, please click here.
HIKING - Please check current trail conditionswhile planning your hike. Big Basin has over 83 miles of backcountry roads and trails. These trails can offer the chance to leave delevloped areas, pass through old growth redwood forest, past water falls, climb to ridge top vistas and hike all the way to the sea. Hikes can range from quick loops and half day hikes to all day adventures into the backcounty and multiday backpacking trips. For recommend hikes and current trail conditions, please click here.
BICYCLING - Bicycles are allowed on all fire roads and on the multi use section of Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail. Please check the Park Map, for details on where bicycles are allowed.
EQUESTRIANS - Bicycles are allowed on all fire roads, on the multi use section of Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail as well as other deignated horse trails such as Westridge Trail and Henry Creek Trail. Please check the Park Map, for details on where horses are allowed. Big Basin also has a horse campground and horse staging area ar Rancho Del Oso near Waddell Beach. For Horse Camp Resverations, please call Park Headquarters at 831-338-8861.
PARK EVENTS - We offer a variety of free interpretive programs throughout the year. To see a list of upcoming events and activities, please click here.
CAMPING – Big Basin has several camping options for those wanting to experiance the redwoods for more then one day. Big Basin has Standard Campsites, Group Camps, Tent Cabins, horse camps and backcountry trail camps. For more information on camping options, please click here.
BACKPACKING - There are 5 backcountry trail camps with in Big Basin Redwoods State Park that require reservations. There are additional backcountry trail camps in surrounding State Parks that can link to Big Basin such as Castle Rock State Park and Butano State Park. The Skyline to the Sea Trail begins at Castle Rock State Park, and ends at Rancho Del Oso and Waddell State Beach. For more information about backcountry trail camps and to make reservations, please click here.
Naturalist-led backpackingtrips are offered during the summer season in the Santa Cruz Mountains through the California State Parks Backpacking Adventures program. For more information, please click here.
Basic Park Information
FEES – There is a vehicle day-use fee for the day-use area and the campground. Regular sized autos ($10), seniors age 62 or older ($9), bus parking 10-24 passengers ($50), and bus parking for 25+ passengers ($100). There is no fee at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center.
Camping is $35 a night, plus $10 fee per night for additional vehicles.
DOGS are allowed in the campsites, picnic areas, and on paved roads. They must be on a leash and attended at all times. Dogs are not permitted on any of the trails or fire roads excluding the campground connector trail from Sempervirens and Blooms Creek campgrounds to park headquarters. Dogs are not allowed in any portion of the Rancho del Oso area, or on Waddell State Beach.
Dogs are allowed on North Escape, a 2.5-mile one-way (5-mile round trip) paved road that is mostly gated off to cars and alongside old-growth redwoods, a creek, and lush undergrowth.
HORSES are allowed on:
All fire roads
Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail.
China Grade to the Toll Road Interconnector Trail
Trails: McCrary Ridge Trail, East Ridge Trail, Last Chance Trail, Clark Connector Trail Westridge Trail, Henry Creek Trail, and the Basin Trail.
BICYCLES are allowed on all fire roads and on the Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail.
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 click here.
Big Basin Redwoods SP, Big Basin Tent Cabins, Little Basin Redwoods SP, and the Backpack Trail Camps are Crumb Clean. Feeding wildlife is prohibited by law. Dispose of all trash properly and don't leave it out in your campsite where animals can get to it. Recycle glass, plastic, and aluminum.
Visitors are required to watch this short video about the impact your food has on park wildlife.
Volunteers in Parks
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 click here.