Continuing our series on national parks on this blog, today we visit a personal favorite. In 2011, we visited Great Basin Redwood State Park with our children and grandparents. In short, it’s a great place for a family hike (or two), but be prepared for some tricky driving on a narrow road winding through huge trees.
And that’s in detail.
Where is Great Basin Redwoods National Park?
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located in Santa Cruz County, south of San Francisco. Technically, the Great Redwoods Basin is located in the city of Boulder Creek.
How do I get to Great Basin Redwoods State Park?
Those traveling from cities like Los Angeles must take I-5 N to CA-152 W and eventually US-101 N to get to the Great Basin redwoods. However, those coming from San Francisco can take US-101 S and turn off at CA-85 S.
If you are using a GPS, here is the official address of the Great Redwoods Basin:
21600 Great Basin Way
Boulder Creek, California 95006.
How far from Santa Cruz are the sequoia forests of the Great Basin?
Santa Cruz is about 30 km south of the Great Redwood Basin, which can be reached by car in 40 minutes.
Check out our Top Ten Things to do in Santa Cruz to better plan your visit.
How far from San Francisco is Grand Basin Redwoods?
San Francisco is about 80 miles north of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, about an hour and a half away.
What is there to do in Redwood State Park in the Great Basin?
Whether you’re planning a day trip or a multi-day trek, Big Basin Redwoods offers many opportunities to explore California’s world-famous redwoods. Let’s see what are the best things to do while visiting the oldest national park in the Golden State Park.
By the way, if you want to know more about California redwoods, be sure to read our previous article Where to See Sequoias in California.
One cannot visit the sequoias of the Grand Basin without seeing many impressive redwoods. Even if you’re not really interested in California redwoods, you won’t be able to miss these imposing trees during your visit.
The most popular place to hike in the redwoods is the Redwood Nature Trail, near park headquarters. This approximately 1.5-mile flat trail passes some of the park’s most famous trees, including the 329-foot-tall Mother of the Forest.
Don’t forget to check out this brochure to discover other sequoia trails in the Grand Basin redwoods.
If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping under mighty redwoods, you’re in luck. Big Basin Redwoods has many campgrounds that offer standard and group camping, tent cabins, and horseback riding.
Of these parks, Camp Huckleberry is the only one that is open year-round. For all other campgrounds, please check the official Big Basin Redwoods schedule online. Visit this official site for a complete map of Big Basin Redwoods Campgrounds.
In general, you must pay $35 per night and $10 extra for each additional vehicle. For more information about reservations, please visit this website.
Visit to Waddell beach and Rancho del Oso
Along the shoreline of Big Basin is Waddell Beach, which has become a popular spot for windsurfers and kite surfers. Waddell beach also has two spectacular nature reserves that are perfect for bird watching: Theodore J. G. Kane Nature Reserve. Hoover and Rancho del Oso.
By the way, Rancho del Oso has a fascinating historic center that is open most weekends between 12 and 4 pm.
Hiking in Great Basin Redwoods National Park
Big Basin Redwoods has over 80 miles of trails to explore. From multi-day hikes to short, relaxing trails, you’ll find the ideal intensity and length of hike when exploring this park.
We recommend that you consult this list of trails in the Great Basin, compiled by the State of California. Below, we look at some of the most popular hiking trails in the redwoods of Grand Basin.
The Redwood Trail, rated as easy on the Big Basin Redwoods website, begins just south of park headquarters and is about four miles round trip. This route takes you past several popular natural attractions, including Sempervirens Falls and Founders’ Historic Monument. Guests usually need about three hours to walk this undemanding path.
Circle of smooth bricks
Another relatively easy trail that starts just south of park headquarters is the Slippery Rock Range, which is about 8.5 miles long. Highlights on this route are the Sempervirens Falls and the old Maddock Cabin. Hikers looking for a moderately easy half-day hike should keep this route in mind.
From the horizon to the sea
Those interested in multi-day hikes in the Grand Basin can consult the Skyline to the Sea trail. This 25-mile hike takes hikers from the starting point at Castle Rock in Saratoga Gorge to Waddell Beach. Although this hike is challenging, the hiker is rewarded with some of the most beautiful views of wildlife in the park.
Hikers usually make it a three-day trip and organize their transportation in advance.
What is the best time of year to visit the Great Redwood Basin?
As elsewhere in the Bay of California region, it is best to visit the Big Basin redwoods in the fall or spring. During these two seasons there is no heavy tourist traffic in summer and no precipitation in winter.
It is interesting to note that people who visit the Grand Bassin in the summer are often put off by the famous fog of the bay. To learn more about this fascinating weather phenomenon, read our article When is the best time to visit California?
What time does Great Basin Redwoods State Park open?
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is open every day of the week from 6 a.m. to sunset. You can usually access the parking lot from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends.
How much does it cost to access the Grand Bassin redwoods?
The Big Basin Redwoods State Park tour is free, but you must pay $10 to enter with a standard vehicle.
Supplementary questions on large river equoia forests
Do you have any questions about visiting the Great Basin of Redwood? If so, please read the frequently asked questions.
Can you drive through Redwoods Great Basin State Park?
Yes, you can drive through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, but it is not recommended. The reason driving is discouraged, especially for large cars, is that California Route 236 is very narrow. Always contact Grand Bassin Headquarters for weather-related restrictions on SR 236.
Are there bears in the redwood forests of the Great Basin?
Bears are rare in the Redwood Great Basin Reservation. Only three species of black bears have been found in the Bay Area in the past 50 years. The chance of encountering a mountain lion during a trek in the Santa Cruz Mountains is slightly higher.
Are dogs allowed in the redwood forest of a major basin?
The only places where dogs are allowed in the Grand Bassin redwoods are designated campsites, picnic tables, and paved roads (including North Escape). Your dog must be on a leash in all of these permitted areas.
Here are the places you shouldn’t take your furry friends:
- Rancho del Oso.
- Waddell State Beach
- The paths of fire
- Dirty tracks
Where to stay when visiting Great Basin Redwood State Park
As you would expect, most of the hotels in Santa Cruz County are concentrated around the Santa Cruz tourist boardwalk. This does not mean that you cannot find quality homes near the Grand Bassin.
Whether you want to stay closer to the Great Redwoods Pool or a little further away, there are two luxury hotels to consider.
Brookdale Lodge is just ten miles from the Great Redwoods Basin, making it one of the closest hotels to the national park. The rustic atmosphere of this hotel and its location in the mountains of Santa Cruz make it the ideal place to stay if you want to be close to nature.
Visit the Booking.com page for Brookdale Lodge if you have any questions about their options.
Carousel Beach Inn
Located just a short walk from the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk, Carousel Beach Inn is a family-run hotel offering free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast to all its guests. From the Carousel Beach Inn, you can easily take a day trip to the Grand Bassin redwoods by following the CA-9 N road (about a 45-minute drive).
To see what Carousel Beach Inn has to offer, visit this official Booking.com page.
We hope you find this guide useful and inspiring. At the time of writing, Californians can still explore state parks – but remember to keep a three-foot distance from you and other people. And if other restrictions are imposed, stay safe and add this guide to your favorites for better days (which will come, I promise!).
frequently asked questions
Can you cross Redwood State Park into the Great Basin?
The park is located 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz on Highways 9 and 236 and about 65 miles south of San Francisco. All roads leading to the Great Basin are winding. From Highway 9 in the Township of Boulder Creek, turn north on Highway 236. Park headquarters is 9 miles from the highway.
Are there bears in the sequoias of the Great Basin?
Question: Are there bears in the Great Basin? Answer: No, you probably won’t see bears in the Great Basin, but mountain lions/insects live in the Santa Cruz Mountains! But also deer, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and possums, in addition to many reptiles and banana slugs!
How long does a hike in the Grand Bassin take?
You can learn more about our hiking experience on the full 30 miles of the Skyline Trail to the sea here. The portion of the Skyline to Sea Trail that begins at Big Basin State Park Headquarters and ends at Waddell Beach is approximately 13 miles long and takes about 5-6 hours at a moderate pace.
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