Big Basin Redwoods State Park is celebrating its one-year anniversary since reopening its gates to visitors on July 22, 2022, following the devastating impact of the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire.
Despite facing challenges from winter storms, over 28,000 people have visited the park during the past year, thanks to a limited-access day-use reservation system. The park now offers temporary facilities, including a visitor center and miles of accessible trails and fire roads.
Camping has also returned through an interim walk-in campground at Rancho Del Oso, on the coastal side of Big Basin Redwoods SP.
“It is wonderful to see people back in Big Basin,” said Santa Cruz District Superintendent Chris Spohrer. “After the losses of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, it is inspiring to find visitors exploring the forest in its unique state of succession, experiencing this iconic park in a new way.”
While temporary facilities have been provided, California State Parks is launching the Facilities Management Plan process to rebuild permanent facilities in the park. The public is encouraged to participate in this process and provide their input through an online survey about park facilities. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.reimaginingbigbasin.org.
The park’s reopening process will take several years as it involves rebuilding the entire trail network, campgrounds, and utilities. Nevertheless, public access will continue to expand as areas are rehabilitated and deemed safe. Significant progress has already been made to increase public access:
- The Horse Camp at Rancho del Oso has been rehabilitated and is now open for walk-in, non-equestrian camping in partnership with Save the Redwoods League and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. The campground will return to a horse camp once equestrian trails are restored.
- Additional trails have been restored and opened to the public, including sections of Sunset Trail, Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, Meteor Trail, and North Escape Road. Trail work is ongoing, and more trail segments will open as rehabilitation continues.
- Public access has been expanded in the main day-use area, with more reservations available through the online system and limited parking spaces offered without a reservation. The park also partnered with Santa Cruz METRO to provide public bus service on summer weekends.
- Interim park staff operation facilities are being expanded at the Saddle Mountain property.
Visitors are encouraged to make parking reservations in advance through the online parking reservation system managed by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Day-use passes and other entry programs are honored, and all fees support the park’s restoration efforts.