Ode to Big Basin

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California's oldest state park, founded in 1902, has suffered severe damage in this week's CZU August Lightning Complex Fires in Santa Cruz County. According to the New York Times, "California’s Department of Parks and Recreation said on Wednesday that the park had sustained 'extensive damage,' including to its headquarters, 'historic core' and campgrounds."

At this point, there is limited information on how much damage the ancient redwood trees have sustained. According the park's website, "Some of these giant [redwoods] are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 1,800 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire."

I visited Big Basin from July 9-12, 2018 as part of my road trip. I had just driven part of the southern coast, and I felt ready and happy to be back in the woods. The small town of Boulder Creek was enchanting to me--it felt like a Colorado mountain town in the middle of California. I had no idea there were parts of California like that. In my journal, I describe the Boulder Creek farmer's market as earthy, friendly, and warm.

I also describe parts of the park that I explored while hiking.


"I continued on to the Hollow Tree Trail. The trail was steep up and down at times, but there were some really cool trees, hollowed out by fire it looks like."


"There are some really interesting things about this park like the Sempervirens Club in 1901 that saved the park from loggers. There was a family that lived way up in the forest around that time. 5 kids. Grizzly bears. They ate fish, deer and berries. The site where their home was is still preserved."

I truly hope that the trees can once again sustain fire damage. I also hope that the unique history of the park can be preserved and will persevere despite the tremendous damage that has already occurred.

I revisited the photos I took at Big Basin. While some of these photos may have made previous appearances, my editing style has changed quite a bit since then. These photos were all shot as .jpgs, so the detail of the photos is limited. This actually led to some interesting editing for me--blowing out the exposure to whiten the sky and trying to enhance the details in the foreground.

I'm glad to have these photos, and I will always have such fond memories of Big Basin. My thoughts are with the park and all of the people impacted by this fire.


If you are interested in donating to Big Basin's recovery effort, I encourage you to visit the Sempervirens Fund.