Rules and Regulations

Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve is open to any qualified user from any educational institution, public or private.  All uses must be consistent with University objectives of teaching and research.  Supervised public access is available monthly docent tours.  The reserve is not open for recreational uses such as hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, climbing, boating, or biking.

These rules have been designed to preserve a natural and wild environmental state for short and long-term studies and to prevent disturbance to ongoing research and educational activities.  To ensure that these objectives are met, all persons making use of this reserve must abide by the following rules and regulations.  Permission to use the reserve may be withdrawn or denied if any of these rules and regulations are violated.

  1. You must have completed an application form to carry out class or professional studies. Projects must not conflict with current research nor diminish the future research or educational value of the reserve. Applications are available on the internet at http:s//, by calling 831-667-2543, or by writing to the Resident Director at  Please apply at least one week in advance of your visit.
  2. All individuals should be familiar with the emergency instruction sheet supplied with this application. These instructions are posted under the lid of the sign in box and at each facility. All individuals must sign a release of liability waiver before visiting the reserve. 
  3. Please call 831-667-2543 if you have any questions before visiting the reserve. All users must sign in the logbook when entering the reserve. Check for notices posted in the visitor center lobby. Do not hike alone unless you leave a note with someone as to your planned route and time of return. Hikers should take a map, flashlight, compass and extra food. Please sign out when you leave.
  4. The reserve is not a park intended for recreation but a wilderness reserve in which the environment is largely left undisturbed for the benefit of research and education. Inexperienced visitors should be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. The reserve contains extremely steep and rugged slopes, wave hazards, narrow roads, cliffs, loose rock, dead trees, fire hazards, flood hazards, and wildlife which is potentially dangerous. Poison oak is nearly everywhere on the reserve. Entering the reserve is undertaken at your own risk, in full realization that these hazards require you to be alert, informed, and cautious.
  5. Cliff and rock climbing, or any other sort of hazardous activity, is prohibited. If you need access to a difficult spot, get help from the staff. Be particularly careful around waterfalls and beaches. 
  6. Group leaders are responsible for the behavior of their group. You should inform all members of the rules and you must supervise their activity.
  7. Pets are not allowed to visit the reserve (except for qualified service dogs approved by UCSC policy).
  8. Collecting, harvesting, experimental manipulation or any other disturbance to reserve habitats or cultural artifacts requires specific permission from the reserve manager, who will request copies of any applicable permits. Recreational fishing or hunting is not allowed. Firearms are not allowed on the reserve and is a federal offense.
  9. The reserve contains private inholdings (Devil's Creek Flat, Stewart leasehold, French Camp) which are off limits to visitors except for transit along the main roadway. Watch for signs for private property up the canyon and stay on the road while passing through.
  10. Camping is permitted in designated campgrounds only. Use the campground latrines for human waste; if these are unavailable solid waste must be buried and toilet paper/wipes packed out. Visitors are expected to clean up campsites before they leave. Reserve visitors are also expected to carry out their own trash from camp to the garbage and recycling receptacles at the main entrance.
  11. Camp fires are permitted in designated campgrounds only, in the fire circles provided. A California Campfire Permit is required as part of an approved campground reservation. During fire season (usually June through November) open fires are prohibited. Cook stoves are to be used only in camps.
  12. Reserve roads are steep and narrow, with steep drop-offs to the side. Great caution should be used in driving reserve roads. Speeds should not exceed 12 mph (7 mph on turns) and in many cases will average 5-8 mph. If you meet an oncoming vehicle, downhill gets priority or stop and discuss with other driver which vehicle should back up to an appropriate turnout. If you slide off the edge of the road or otherwise get stuck, stop and get help. Don't risk your life trying to right a tipping vehicle. Off-road driving is prohibited.
  13. Vehicles may be parked in designated areas only. Do not block the road when unloading gear at campgrounds. All vehicles must stay on the roads. During fire season, ensure that grass and weeds do not touch the hot exhaust system of your vehicle.
  14. Special permission is necessary for marine research. Boating and diving in the marine reserve must be pre-approved by the UC Santa Cruz diving safety officer (459-4881).
  15. All tags or flagging must have your name and the date written on them and be cleared with the reserve manager. Otherwise they are subject to removal at any time. The exact location of any permanent study plots or sampling disturbance must be cleared in advance and documented, to avoid disturbing other research and to protect your research from future disturbance.
  16. You are expected to incorporate the results of your studies into the UCNRS reserve database, as appropriate. We also ask that written materials resulting from work done at Big Creek include acknowledgement of the reserve. Reprints or copies of articles or theses based on work done at the reserve should be promptly delivered to the manager. 

Code of Conduct

Expected Behavior:

  • All participants, visitors, staff, students, faculty, and vendors are to be treated with respect and consideration, valuing a diversity of views and opinions.
  • Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert UCSC NRS personnel if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.

Unacceptable, Noncompliant Behavior:

  • Harassment, intimidation and/or discrimination in any form.
  • Physical and/or verbal abuse of any participants, visitors, staff, students, faculty, vendors, or other reserve guests.
  • Verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race,  religion, and/or national origin.
  • Unwelcome and/or nonconsenting physical contact.
  • Inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in reserve public spaces.
  • Threatening and/or stalking any participants, visitors, staff, students, faculty, vendors, or other reserve guests.

Reporting an Incident
UCSC NRS Staff are always available to help. Please note that we are obligated to report any incidents we’re made aware of. If you’d prefer privacy, a confidential advocate can assist you by helping to identify your best strategy and provide accompaniment if you choose to report


Emergencies: Call 911


Confidential Resources

  • CARE Advocate Office
    831-502-2273 (9am – 5pm, M-F on campus)
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
    831-459-2628 (24 hour hotline)
  • Monarch Services
    888-900-4232 (24-hour hotline)


Reporting Options

  • Title IX Office
    Access online reporting link at
  • Monterey County Sheriff’s Department
    Officer needed/Non emergency


Drone use


  1. Drone use on all UC property is regulated. If you wish to fly a drone, you must apply to the UAS Program for policy and authorization for drone use. Any costs associated with unapproved drone flights are the sole responsibility of the operator.
  2. Once you are at the reserve, you will need to get authorization from the Resident Reserve Director. Secondary authorization from the Reserve Director is dependent on flight path, weather conditions, wildfire risk, endangered species nesting behavior, etc. 

Any comments or suggestions concerning management of the reserve are appreciated.