This week’s eruption of wildfires has closed 29 state parks and partially closed five others, blackening tens of thousands of acres and extensively damaging the oldest existing state park, Big Basin Redwoods north of Santa Cruz.
All visitors and staff were evacuated as flames from the CZU August Lightning Complex fires destroyed the Big Basin park’s historic headquarters, lodge, nature museum, store, ranger station, campgrounds, multiple park residences and bathrooms, along with much forest land. (That fire has also destroyed scores of homes and other structures between the Big Basin and Santa Cruz.)
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, known for waterfalls and Pacific Ocean views, was established in 1902 to protect coastal redwood trees estimated at 1,000 to 1,800 years old.
Beyond the closure of the park as fire continues to threaten Santa Cruz and neighboring areas, the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks are asking all Californians to postpone visits to Santa Cruz County or coastal San Mateo County.
“Thousands of residents have evacuated and are in need of shelter in local hotels, motels and vacation rentals,” the group wrote in a Facebook post Friday morning. “Many parks and beaches are closed, and roads are blocked.”
Leaders of the Sempervirens Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the redwoods, wrote that “We are devastated to report that Big Basin, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone …. We do not yet know the fate of the park’s grandest old trees.”
Nearby Butano State Park has also been damaged in the fires, a state parks spokesman said, and as of Friday morning, the fire continued to burn in that park.
The fire threats statewide compound the challenge already posed by the battle against COVID-19, which has led dozens of parks to shut campgrounds and restrict parking and visitor access. Many of the state parks threatened by the new fires are in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. The closures are until further notice.
Parks officials said those holding camping reservations impacted by the wildfires “are being contacted with cancellation information.”
Here’s an update on closed and endangered parks statewide from the California State Parks:
In Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, the CZU August Lightning Complex fires have forced closure of these parks:
- Bean Hollow State Beach
- Big Basin Redwoods SP (including Rancho Del Oso)
- Butano SP
- Castle Rock SP
- Coast Dairies SP
- Henry Cowell Redwoods SP
- Pescadero SB
- Pigeon Point Light Station
- Pomponio SB
- Portola Redwoods SP
- San Gregorio SB
- Wilder Ranch SP
In Mono county, the Beach fire has partially closed Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, including South Tufa and Navy Beach.
In Contra Costa County, Deer Zone fires have closed Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area and Mount Diablo State Park.
In Monterey County, which includes the Big Sur area, the Dolan fire has closed these parks:
- Andrew Molera SP
- Garrapata SP
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
- John Little SNR
- Limekiln SP
- Pfeiffer Big Sur SP
- Point Lobos SNR
- Point Sur SHP
In Nevada County, the Jones fire has partially closed these parks:
- Empire Mine State Historic Park
- Malakoff Diggins SHP
- South Yuba River SP
In Napa and Sonoma counties, the LNU Lightning Complex fires have closed these state parks:
- Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
- Austin Creek State Recreation Area
- Fort Ross SHP
In Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, the SCU Lightning Complex fires have closed Henry W. Coe State Park.
In Marin County, the Woodward fire has led to closure of Tomales Bay State Park and partial closure of Mount Tamalpais State Park, where the upper mountain and campgrounds are closed. Day use is strongly discouraged, state park officials said.
Also in Marin County at Point Reyes National Seashore, the Woodward fire has forced closure of Limantour Road, all trails west of Highway 1 and all trails south and east of Limantour Road.
Because fire conditions and road statuses are changing fast, state parks officials say, anyone traveling should take care and check ahead.