Frequently asked Questions

Do I need to fill out an application?

YES. All visitors must fill out an application. If you are planning to visit Big Creek Reserve for the purpose of research, teaching, or public outreach you must fill out an application. If you are unsure about whether your activity fits the mission of the reserve or whether you need to fill out an application, please contact us at: bigcreek@ucsc.edu OR (831) 667-2543.

How do I get to Big Creek?

Big Creek is located 50 miles south of Monterey on the Big Sur coast.
Please see our maps and directions page for directions on how to get here.

How do I get the gate combination?

You must fill out an application, have your request accepted, and agree to the rules before you can receive the gate combination. The combination is changed randomly throughout the year.

Can I visit the reserve just to go hiking or camping?

This facility is devoted to organized research projects and educational use, mostly at the university level. It is closed to casual public access.

Please read the application guidelines and the mission of the reserve here: http://ucreserve.ucsc.edu/bigcreek/mission.html. With this mission, the public is able to visit the reserve in a few different ways as per the final statement in the mission (As feasible and appropriate the reserve will also provide public services to the greater community by supporting nature study, land management efforts, and environmental improvement). First, we have an Open House each year in May. Second, we take in volunteers by prearrangement to help us with reserve projects and those folks are allowed to stay on the reserve one day for every day that they work.
Third, public groups that organize educational tours, such as the Sierra Club that brings its own naturalist guides, may be allowed to use the reserve under our mandate of education.

Is there internet at Big Creek?

Big Creek’s internet network is provided by a satellite, which limits the amount of data we can transfer to 25 gigabytes per month.
You must:

  1. 1) Limit your use to work-related communication as much as possible.
  2. 2) Do not use streaming video or audio.
  3. 3) Do not carry out large file downloads or software updates. To avoid this, turn off automatic updates.
  4. 4) Turn off smart phones, mobile devices, and disable location services in your settings app. They are constantly downloading and uploading in the background if they are left on.

Your usage is monitored. If you are found to be overloading the system, your access will be turned off and you will have to contact the Reserve Director to be let back on the network.
This network is shared among all users at the reserve, including staff who rely upon the network for daily administrative tasks. If we go over our use limit the provider will slow our connection down, severely effecting our ability to run the reserve.

What is the smoking policy?

Smoking is prohibited at Big Creek. You must conduct smoking out on the highway. UC has a no-tobacco policy that includes chew and smokeless forms of use.

What is the campfire policy?

Campfires are allowed throughout the year only at Redwood Camp.
Campfires are prohibited everywhere else during fire season, which generally is from mid-May until the first rains in November. Ask the Reserve Staff if the prohibition is in effect during your visit.

Do I need to bring firewood?

We do not provide firewood. Please bring it from as local a source as possible.

Will my car be able to drive on the dirt roads?

Most vehicles can access our dirt roads when dry. Extremely low clearance vehicles may have trouble. Roads are generally not safe during the middle of winter when they are very wet, and especially when it is actively raining. Very long and wide vehicles must be cautious in the canyon to avoid bumping logs and rocks along the road. Keeping speeds to 10 mph and being aware of all four tires at all times is a good policy.

Can I drink the water at Big Creek?

All water provided from a tap, hose, sink, or water tank is drinkable spring water.