Fire Recovery

Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the surrounding area are slowly recovering from the devastation caused by the CZU Fire that burned in the Santa Cruz Mountains in August and September of 2020.

Current State Park statuses:

Please be safe and avoid closed areas.


Friends aids State Parks with wildfire recovery 

In the aftermath of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, through our unique position as co-management partners with State Parks, we established the Friends Fire Fund. People from around the globe responded with incredible generosity to address the devastation of our beloved state parks and those who work in them. Thank you. We are deeply moved and appreciative of all this support.

SUMMER 2022 UPDATE

July 22 marked the reopening of Big Basin Redwoods State Park for limited day-use access. We are so excited to be a part of this monumental occasion.
Visiting the park requires a reservation that can be made online or by phone (831) 338-8867. Check for open reservations daily. Reservations are available up to 60 days in advance and a limited amount of additional spots will open up three days prior. Visitors also can access the park without a reservation by riding a bike in or taking the METRO Route 35 bus. Four trips serve the park daily (weekends only).

After a nearly two-year closure following the CZU Fire, the public is welcomed back to Big Basin to explore the recovering forest. Visitors will find an interim Visitor Center and 18 miles of fire roads and trails to discover the resilient redwood trees. While most of the park is experiencing substantial regrowth, it is not going to be the same Big Basin many have known. We invite you to join us in Reimagining Big Basin for what the park could be.

The reopening of the park came sooner than expected, thanks to the dedicated work by volunteers, State Parks staff and partners. In the spring, 33 hardworking volunteers helped California State Parks staff with clean-up projects at Big Basin Redwoods State Park:

  • 25 6 x 6 x 6-foot burn piles were stacked
  • 75 10-foot redwood split rails were milled
  • 120 feet of split rail fencing was installed around the Redwood Loop Trail.

AUGUST 2021 UPDATE
Nearly a year later, we can share that recovery from this climate disaster has been happening in phases – for both parks and people.

The Fire Fund initially provided direct, immediate assistance for the staff most affected by the fire. Many staff members from Friends and California State Parks were personally impacted by the fire, including people who suffered catastrophic losses such as their homes and personal vehicles. Thanks to gifts from hundreds of individuals, as well as the California State Parks Foundation, Mountain Parks Foundation and Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, we were able to financially support all 29 staff members who experienced monumental losses.

Since the fall of 2020, Friends has been supporting the long-term recovery work for the state parks impacted by this fire. In addition to the extensive and tragic devastation at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, other local state parks sustained damage, including parts of Año Nuevo State ParkButano State Park, the Fall Creek section of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, and the Rancho Del Oso and Little Basin sections of Big Basin.

  • Friends contracted with Codifi, Inc. one month after the fire to digitally document the fire losses of 75 buildings and sites at Big Basin, as well as Año Nuevo State Park, including Cascade Ranch and Gazos Creek, totaling more than 25 other historic resources.  Thanks to grant support from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, we saved many months of labor and facilitated rapid reports to OSHA, FEMA and State Parks, so that on-the-ground recovery work could begin.
  • Friends helped save 15 old-growth redwood trees in the park.  This hazard removal work includes taking off whole sections of the upper tree trunks or removing dead limbs or tops that had the potential to fall on areas likely to be occupied by either park staff or visitors.  Because these trees posed a hazard to the public, had the pruning not been done, they would have been cut down.  This work resulted in creating a safe environment for park visitors and staff and the preservation of these trees; each of them irreplaceable, priceless, and unique. Generous support from the Sempervirens Fund helped make the work by Christianson Tree Experts of Boulder Creek possible.
  • One of the roads in Big Basin was not built to withstand the weight of vehicles and heavy equipment currently working in the area.  Friends provided the funding to purchase materials necessary to repair the road so park restoration could continue.
  • Park supporters are curious to learn about how the park is doing since the fire and what recovery and restoration work is happening.  Since in-person park tours aren’t safe at this time, Friends has funded a short film and digital scan of sections of the park providing a virtual Big Basin park tour in collaboration with California State Parks.

To support the recovery effort, please consider a gift to the Friends Fire Fund.


Reimagining Big Basin

California State Parks is engaging stakeholders and the public in an effort to reimagine the future of Big Basin Redwoods State Park following the CZU Fire.

Learn more in the Vision Summary.

Experience Big Basin one year after the fire through 3D Virtual Tours, of the Entrance Road, Blooms Creek Campground, Park Headquarters, the Gift Shop, the Campfire Center and Lodge, and Skyline to the Sea Trailhead (see below). Videos, photos and an FAQ share pertinent information about public access, wildlife, forest health and the rebuilding process. 

The process for reestablishing the park includes immediate recovery efforts, planning processes to renew the vision for the park’s future, and long-term planning and implementation projects. The Reimagining Big Basin project will provide updates on these efforts and engage stakeholders and the community in initial conversations regarding the vision and goals for the reestablishment of Big Basin.

3D Virtual Tours