Big Basin Redwoods State Park
The new interim parking area where a new pilot shuttle program can pick up visitors going to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. (California State Parks)

Just in time for the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend, California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks have announced that access to Big Basin Redwoods State Park will increase this summer with the addition of a free pilot shuttle program, a new interim parking area and weekend Santa Cruz METRO bus service to the park.

The new State Parks shuttle will operate on a loop within Big Basin from a new interim satellite parking area at Saddle Mountain, located at the intersection of Highway 236 and Little Basin Road, to the main day-use area near the park’s former headquarters. This will augment existing reservation parking located in the historic core of the park at the main day-use area.

This pilot shuttle program will increase day-use access to the park in this interim period, while permanent park facilities are being planned after being lost in the 2020 CZU Fire.

The new 14-passenger, ADA-accessible shuttle, with a bike rack for two bicycles, will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day weekend, May 25, to Labor Day, Sept. 2. Reservations will be available for day-use parking at the park for $8 ($6 day-use parking fee plus a $2 reservation fee).

Once parking reservations in the heart of the park are full, visitors will be able to make reservations to park at Saddle Mountain to ride the shuttle into the park. State Parks’ day-use passes and other park entry programs are honored, but a $2 reservation fee still applies.

Visitors are encouraged to check availability and make a reservation online in advance to guarantee access to the limited parking areas. If the shuttle parking area isn’t fully reserved, first-come, first-served parking will be available for $10 per vehicle, payable by credit card at the kiosk. All fees will support the park.

Santa Cruz METRO started offering weekend bus service to the park on Bus Route 35 in March. Service will continue through spring and summer with five stops a day at the park. Bus riders can park for free at the METRO station in Scotts Valley to catch the bus. Single-ride tickets are $2 each, a day pass is $6, and K-12 students with student ID ride for free. Visitors who arrive by bus access the park for free.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Site of the former Administration Building and Auto Tree at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. (California State Parks)

Reimagining Big Basin

Big Basin is the oldest state park in California, acquired in 1902. The lands known today as Big Basin Redwoods State Park were originally the homelands of the Quiroste and Cotoni tribes, ancestral relatives of today’s Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

The CZU Lightning Complex Fire devastated Big Basin in 2020, burning more than 97% of the park and destroying nearly every structure, including the Park Headquarters, campgrounds and housing for park employees.

The park reopened in July 2022 through a limited access day-use reservation system created and operated by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. An interim visitors center is now open, and miles of trails and fire road are accessible.

Also, camping has returned to the coastal side of the park through an interim walk-in campground at Rancho del Oso. The introduction of the shuttle program this summer will mark the largest increase in access to the park in two years.

The old-growth redwood forest in Big Basin continues to recover. Park visitors can witness the regrowth of the iconic trees and can also see signs of wildlife returning to the park’s recovering forest including deer, raccoon, fox, mountain lion, coyote, bats, many bird species and other wildlife.

Learn more and plan a visit at To make a reservation for camping at Rancho del Oso, on the coastal side of Big Basin, visit

California State Parks continues the planning process to bring permanent facilities back to the park. It will be several years before the park is fully reopened, including rebuilding the entire trail network, campgrounds and utilities. For more information and to get involved, visit

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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