Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Latest NewsThis park is closed. Make a reservation now to visit in April!
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is open for limited day-use access through a reservation parking system. Reservations are required.
The day-use-only reservation system provides public access to a limited area of the fire-damaged park. Visitors are able to explore the Redwood Loop, Dool Trail and some access roads near the historic park core. Due to ongoing safety concerns following the devastating CZU Fire in August 2020, the majority of Big Basin remains closed to the public.
Substantial progress has been made toward restoring access to portions of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Reservations are necessary to:
- Ensure visitor safety in the limited areas where public access is available.
- Protect the fire-damaged forest as it slowly recovers from the devastating fire.
- Provide a safe, high-quality visitor experience in which overcrowding of parking lots and trails will not deter visitors from having the ability to seek out recreational experiences that allow for a connection to the natural environment.
The limited public access to Big Basin coincided with the reopening of Highway 236, the main thoroughfare through the park.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest state park in California. It was acquired in 1902. Prior to the fire, the park had miles of trails — which served hikers, bikers and equestrians, linking Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range — and hundreds of campsites.
On August 16, 2020, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire ignited. Two days later, the flames engulfed Big Basin Redwoods State Park, burning over 97 percent of the park and destroying nearly every structure, including the Park Headquarters, campgrounds and housing for park employees. Approximately 18,000 acres burned inside the park boundary.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located on Highway 236 north of the town of Boulder Creek. The park can be accessed from either direction of 236. Vehicle traffic is permitted on the highway through the park, but reservations are required to park within Big Basin.
Things to doHiking Trails
The park has about 18 miles of fire roads and trails available to explore at this time, including the Redwood Loop Trail and Dool Trail.
NOTE: Backcountry trails, including the Skyline to the Sea Trail, remain closed due to fire damage.Environmental Learning
Guided walks may be offered at the park. Park visitors should check at the temporary visitor center for availability.Mountain Biking
Bikes are allowed on some fire roads in the park.
An interim Visitor Center is open. The CZU Fire destroyed all facilities at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, including the historic Visitor Center and Park Store. The Visitor Center is open daily except for Tuesdays.
Fees and Passes
Reservations for day-use parking must be made at least one day in advance. Day-use parking is $8 (a $6 day-use parking fee with a $2 reservation fee) and stays local to support the park. State Parks day-use passes and other park entry programs will be honored but a reservation fee of $2 will be charged. A total of 96 parking spots, four disabled spots and two bus spots are offered daily. Pre-registration is required and can be made up to 60 days in advance. Reservations need to be made by 6 a.m. on the day of the visit. No day-of, drive-up entry will be available. Check availability.
Reservations also are available by phone. Leave a message at (831) 338-8867.
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, through its unique position as co-management partner with State Parks, is operating the Big Basin Day-Use Reservation System. All fees support the park.
Parking reservations will not be required to enter the park via bicycle, or to drive through on Highway 236 without stopping.
- Visitor Center
- Accessibility: There are ADA-compliant chemical toilets and parking spots.
- Bathrooms: Chemical toilets and handwash stations will be available. Amenities are extremely limited at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. There is no access to potable water, no cell phone service, no concessions and no electricity.
Big Basin State Park is in the unceded homelands of the Awaswas-speaking Ohlone Tribe known as the Cotoni and Quiroste, who stewarded these lands since time immemorial. Centuries of colonial violence led to the removal and displacement of the Cotoni and Quiroste. Today, their descendants continue their stewardship and presence here, in partnership with State Parks.
By 1800, the Spanish removal of Quiroste and Cotoni people from these beautiful forests into the neighboring missions was effectively complete. This created a sense of “open wilderness” for some incoming settlers to admire and, eventually, strive to conserve. California Senator Leland Stanford called for making Big Basin a park in 1889. As president of the Southern Pacific Railroad, owner of the land, he had the power to make it happen. The official campaign began at Stanford University on May 1, 1900, led by Santa Cruz County Bank president and former
Lt. Governor William T. Jeter. By relying on Stanford botany professor William R. Dudley, secretary of the Sierra Club and Big Basin’s leading expert, Jeter ensured the movement would be data-driven. Journalist Carrie Stevens Walter brought onboard the 200-member San Jose Woman’s Club. Two weeks later, the Santa Cruz Board of Trade led an excursion to Big Basin including Walter and Louise Coffin Jones. The group formed the Sempervirens Club to provide publicity for the movement.
The non-stop bi-partisan legislative campaign of 1901 featured Jeter as the Sempervirens negotiator, Andrew P. Hill as the paid lobbyist and Walter as the corresponding secretary i.e., lead writer. Women—most notably Walter, Jones and Josephine Clifford McCracken—wrote almost all the newspaper and magazine articles illustrated with Hill’s photographs. The Sierra Club, many civic organizations, woman’s networks, academics and Jesuit priests joined with the Sempervirens Club to create a vast statewide lobbying effort. In March of 1901, the California Redwood Park bill became law.
But powerful media owners opposed the asking price for the forest and maligned the Sempervirens Club and the owners of the Big Basin Lumber Company (BBLC). The involvement of Santa Clara College President Father Robert Kenna, in collaboration with the Sacramento Bee, turned the tide. The state signed a final sale agreement in September 1902. The BBLC donated 800 additional acres to bring the park’s total acreage to 3,800.
The California Redwood Park officially opened in June of 1904 with Humphrey Pilkington, an accomplished Santa Cruz landscaper, serving as the first warden. The preservationists’ goal for the forest “to be preserved in a state of nature” boldly appeared on the park entrance gates from the opening until the mid-1920s.
— updated history based on Big Basin Redwood Forest, California’s Oldest State Park by Traci Bliss
The book is available in the ParkStore Online. Proceeds benefit fire recovery efforts at Big Basin.
- Dogs are not permitted on any trails or fire roads in the park. Dogs on leash are allowed in paved areas only. Leashes must be 6-feet long or shorter.
- Bicycles are allowed only on fire roads. Bicyclists under 18 must wear a helmet.
- Horse trailer parking is not available at this time.
- All natural and cultural features are protected by law; do not disturb them.
- Stay on established trails and out of all undeveloped areas and unlabeled trails.
- Camping and fires are not permitted.
The Reimagining Big Basin Vision Summary, a collaborative vision created through months of public input to guide the reestablishment of Big Basin Redwoods State Park after the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, was released in May 2022. The draft vision outlines a Reimagined Park that will be different from the Big Basin the public remembers, with facilities and services established outside of the old-growth redwoods and areas with sensitive resources. Access will be improved for alternative modes of transportation. Connectivity and collaborative resource management will be prioritized as the park returns to full operation to enhance visitor experiences throughout the park and build resilient partnerships within the region. Learn more and give input.
Marking the one-year anniversary of when Big Basin Redwoods State Park burned in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, Friends and California State Parks released a short documentary and a series of 3D virtual tours in August 2021 that provide the first, official immersive look at the fire impacts and the recovery process.
The documentary incorporates pre-fire images of the park, footage captured during the wildfire and current imagery. It visits multiple park locations, including the main entrance, Blooms Creek Campground, the historic core of the park, Little Basin Campground and China Grade Road.
The 3D virtual tour uses state-of-the-art software and equipment from Matterport to create an immersive visual experience. Through the virtual tour, it’s possible to walk through the Campfire Center, look across the destroyed Blooms Creek bridge or stare up at the burned redwood canopy. The tour visits six locations in the park. Experience the 3D tours.
To support the recovery effort, please consider a gift to the Friends Fire Fund.