Big Basin’s Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center set to reopen Memorial Day weekend

League’s own Welcome Center project nearby will be completed next year

Rancho del Oso nature and history
The Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center on the west side of Big Basin Redwoods State Park will open on Memorial Day weekend.

California State Parks this week announced that it will reopen limited portions of the western coastal region of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. In particular, the park will open its Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Memorial Day Weekend, May 29 and 30. 

The park’s backcountry and rest of Big Basin Redwoods State Park remains closed indefinitely following 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. 

Rancho del Oso Welcome Center
Construction on the League’s Rancho del Oso Welcome Center is well underway. Planned opening is May of 2022.

As the park opens its Nature and History Center, the League continues to make great progress on its own Welcome Center nearby, which is set to be open in May of next year. In this project, the League is replacing an outdated ranger station to create a new facility that includes an outdoor classroom and gathering space. The new building was recently put into place, and the observation deck is complete. The remaining work includes all the interpretive displays and amenities. 

With the opening of the Nature and History Center at Rancho del Oso on weekends, a small portion of the park surrounding the center will also be open to the public. 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. 

All visitors should plan their visit to Rancho del Oso as COVID-19 guidelines remain in effect. 

About the author

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has protected and restored redwood forests and connected people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

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