Students Help Reimagine Big Basin State Park

September 19, 2023

By , Program Manager, Adventure Rec 831-459-2668

Photo Credit: Brock Gudeman

Have you been to Big Basin State Park recently? Did you have memories from before the CZU fire burned nearly 97% of the park, California’s very first state park, in August, 2020?  

Ten UC Santa Cruz students traveled to Big Basin on May 20 with Adventure Rec, a program area within the Department of Athletics & Recreation. These students, along with student Adventure Rec Leader, Carson Walter, were part of an Adventure Rec program offering titled "Day Hike: Re-imagining Big Basin State Park". The trip was developed as a collaboration between California State Parks staff and University staff, respectively. 

The goals of the trip were to introduce students to this magical corner of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and for state park officials to listen to students’ input as part of the Reimagining Big Basin initiative currently underway. The day at the park began with an introduction by a park ranger. Students then enjoyed a five-mile hike through the park on newly established trails. The day concluded with students providing their ideas for facility and backcountry re-development, as part of the Reimagining Big Basin initiative. Adventure Rec will offer this hike, with similar goals and itinerary, to UC Santa Cruz students again in Winter 2024. Additionally, students have access to a wide range of Adventure Rec activities this fall quarter as well, including backpacking, surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and more, with registration opening on Tuesday, October 3 at 9 a.m. via

California State Parks continue to seek public input for the future of Big Basin State Park. If you have ideas and would like to contribute to this unique opportunity to bring life back to such a special place, check out

The forests of Big Basin State Park and the greater Santa Cruz Mountains impacted by the 2020 CZU fire will continue to regrow. Coastal redwoods will re-establish their canopy over redwood sorrel and trillium. That succession, left alone, will happen regardless of human intervention. On the other hand, how Big Basin State Park welcomes visitors, through campgrounds, a visitor center, transportation and parking, and other infrastructure, remains open to your input. Please consider helping to shape the future of the park by completing the park facilities survey before October 1, and signing up on the project email list to stay involved.