Backcountry and rest of Big Basin Redwoods State Park Remains Closed
RANCHO DEL OSO, Calif.— California State Parks is reopening limited portions of the western coastal region of Big Basin Redwoods State Park (Big Basin). Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Memorial Day Weekend, May 29 and 30. The department urges all visitors to plan their visit to Rancho del Oso as COVID-19 guidelines are in effect and the backcountry of Rancho del Oso and all of Big Basin remains closed to the public due to fire damage and safety hazards. Just last week, a fire rekindled at Big Basin, scorching approximately 8 acres.
Rancho del Oso, along with Big Basin, have been closed since the CZU Lightning Complex Fire last August. The lightning-induced wildfire burned more than 97% of Big Basin (17,792 of 18,224 acres), destroyed nearly all of the buildings (about 100 structures), and all of the campgrounds (225 campsites and 35 tent cabins), restrooms, trail networks, roads, bridges and other publicly accessible sites. Though the region did not experience a very wet winter, there are signs of regrowth, as wildflowers and other plants are sprouting near the charred redwoods.
Below, find more information for those who plan to visit Rancho del Oso and the surrounding Santa Cruz region:
What will open Memorial Day Weekend?
The visitor center at Rancho del Oso and a small portion surrounding the center will be open to the public on weekends. Guests will be able to look for reptiles and amphibians while walking along the Marsh Trail. Visitors can cross to either side of the park using the seasonal foot bridge. There are also great opportunities for bird watching while observing the wetlands along the park road to Highway 1. Waddell Beach will remain open, and visitors are encouraged to take in the sight of wind surfers as they speed across the water or wade in the surf.
What remains closed?
The backcountry of Rancho del Oso and all of Big Basin which includes the popular Skyline to Sea Trail. Some areas of Big Basin are still actively on fire. The most recent fire on May 2 was located on the north side of Mt. McAbee, an area containing old growth within the CZU Lightning burn area. Dry, breezy conditions likely rekindled existing embers that spread to ground fuels such as dry leaves and needles. There were no structural threats from this latest flare up. However, it is an important reminder that Big Basin remains an active fire zone with hazardous trees. Since last August, State Parks in addition to Caltrans, Cal OES and other state agencies have replaced 18 culverts, cut down thousands of unstable trees, and cleared dirt roads and trails. There is still much more work ahead before Big Basin can safely reopen to the public.
Where else can visitors see redwoods?
To see coastal redwoods or for a more substantial hike, the public can visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park or The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288.
For the latest updates on the reimagining and recovery efforts at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, or to donate to recovery funds, please visit parks.ca.gov/BigBasinRecovery.