field station


McLaughlin Reserve has a number of overnight and research facilities that are available to approved researchers and classes.


The Field Station is a multi-purpose building with fully-equipped kitchen and dining area, showers, bunk rooms, a small dry-laboratory workspace, laundry room, and a lounge area with DVD  and VHS players. Cell service is patchy; staff can help you find locations where you phone might receive a good signal.  A land-line phone can be available for urgent or incoming calls … discuss with staff when you get to the Reserve. There is a computer terminal for checking email and ethernet ports and cords are available for most bunk rooms; discuss your needs with staff.  There is no open wireless access: if you have special needs for wireless, discuss your needs with staff.  Our internet service is by satellite and we have a limited amount of daily bandwidth: no streaming music or video, only routine web browsing allowed (the service is used by staff as well as visitors, and when daily bandwidth has been used up EVERYONE looses internet).  More about what is available at the field station, what YOU need to bring, and some general policies, can be found at this link: click here.

The field station has 23 beds available across 7 rooms. There are 3-5 beds per room, with one or two of them being upper bunks. Three of these rooms have a double bed; these can be specifically reserved for couples if the additional beds in those rooms are not required for other people. Field station users are also welcome to set up a tent in allowed tent spots (including the nearby campground) or a camper vehicle next to the field station. All indoor amenities are available to those who choose to sleep in a tent/camper. 

Visitors should bring their own toiletries, towels, food, and sleeping bag or quilt (we provide a pillow, fitted matress sheet, and pillowcase). There is no janitorial service - users are expected to leave the facilities cleaner than they find them.  A cleaning list and policy are posted in the dining area.


Campsites are available through prior arrangement with the Reserve Directors. The main camping area is approximately 0.5 miles from the field station, near the entrance to the Reserve. The shaded area has picnic tables, level spots for setting up a tent, and composting toilets. For group camping, we can provide a water tank with non-potable water for washing. You will need to bring water bottles to carry drinking water from the field station. Campfires must be approved by Reserve staff; they are usually allowed only during the winter and spring.

Other locations, including sites near research settings, may be appropriate for camping; you must discuss these needs with Reserve staff prior to proceeding.


There is no charge for day use of the Reserve by approved applicants.

Overnight rates (bunkroom or tent) are $8.00/night for University of California affiliated students, staff, and faculty, and $10.00/night for others.

For special assistance beyond that provided by staff during orientation, directors' time may be billed at a rate of $49-$65/hour (UC vs non-UC). Field assistance by other Natural Reserve staff is at a rate of $38-$49/hour. Requests for staff time are subject to approval and time availability.


Reserve staff are available to answer questions and give advice. We may also be able to help with some basic research equipment needs (e.g., shovel, ladder, t-post pounder, etc.), pending specific arrangement with Reserve staff.

Limited-distribution documents about the reserve and the Homestake/Barrick gold mine are available at the reserve. Also available are a Natural History Handbook, various GIS files, and numerous generations of aerial photographs.


We have especially detailed information on edaphic and ecological factors within an area of the Reserve known as "The Grid". This location, established in 2001 as a model ecosystem, spans 500 x 550m across a diversity of soil types and plant communities. Data on soil properties and plant occurrences are available at 50 m intervals across the Grid, and at 10 m intervals within 6 - 50 x 100 m blocks within the Grid.  This is a valuable resource with fine scale background data available.  Therefore, all new research conducted on the grid must be approved by a Grid Research committee.