Big Creek’s mission is to encourage research and teaching while preserving the ecological integrity of the reserve. Basic infrastructure is a key part in making a wilderness area in Big Sur accessible to scientists and students. Maintaining buildings and campgrounds, water springs, off-the-grid power supplies, hiking trails, and roads is a large part of running this research facility. We also conduct activities that involve stewardship of the natural environment such as invasive species management, restoration, species surveys, and patrolling for unauthorized use. Access to the reserve is through supervised approval in order to keep track of annual use, protect ongoing research projects, and to bring awareness to the research and teaching mission of the University. We are not open to general or recreational use. All access must be approved by resident personnel.


Many visitors ask how they can come back to Big Creek if they don’t have a research project or are not in an academic capacity. The answer is to come back to Big Creek, give back to Big Creek. The reserve provides its visitors with a wide variety of experiences due to its inherent nature and the stewardship we apply here. Be creative and come up with a way to be here and to assist in continuing our mission.

While we work hard towards being good caretakers, there are many tasks that need to be done that our staff simply can’t do without extra help. Our facilities and infrastructure need regular maintenance. Many invasive species are constantly threatening to push out native ones and fundamentally change the landscape. Proper stewardship requires a commitment to managing these tasks now and into the future.

Volunteering is a way for people concerned with the above issues to learn about these aspects of land management while helping to keep Big Creek as pristine as possible. We are also interested in offering ways for students to earn education credit by participating.

By integrating maintenance tasks into our long term vision of land stewardship, we provide our volunteers with a hands-on learning opportunity and hopefully the satisfaction gained by being a part of a concerted effort to protect Big Creek Reserve.

To join our contact list, please send an email to

If you would like more information, please call Mark Readdie at the Big Creek Reserve office:
(831) 667-2543.