Kathy Toll in Mimulus

Visitor Information

The McLaughlin Reserve is open to use (by application) for qualified research and educational purposes. All use must be approved by and coordinated with the Resident Director. The Reserve is not open to general public use, but public programs with nature-based interests or projects may apply for access.

Reserve users must adhere to the Reserve's procedures and rules. These rules have been developed by the University in partnership with the primary landowner, Homestake Mining Company of California.


Contact the Reserve Director to to discuss the feasibility of your plans and arrange for an orientation.   All visits must be arranged with the Reserve Directors; once you have permission to make an initial visit to the Reserve, you can use navigation systems like Google Maps to get you to the area using the Reserve's address, but the Reserve is a big place.  Work with Reserve staff to get further directions to facilities and lands of the Reserve that you might need access to.  


Before visiting the reserve for the first time, all persons must read and sign the Natural Reserve System Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement.  Classes not affiliated with the University of California should obtain and return waivers before the class arrives. A parent or legal guardian must sign the release agreements for minors.


To apply for access to and use of the reserve, click the link for the Reservations and Application Management System.


There is no charge for day-use of the Reserve by approved applicants. Fees for all overnight stays are $8.00/night for University of California affiliates, and $10.00/night for others. For exceptional assistance with your group/project, staff time may be billed at a rate of $38/$49 per hour (UC vs non-UC rate) for stewards' time or $49/$65 per hour for director's time. While staff time can be requested, staff may not always have available time to fulfill requests.


    After obtaining permission from the Director to use the Reserve, inform the Director of each visit to the Reserve and provide the name and affiliation of each person accompanying you. Each person must complete a waiver; those under 18 must have a waiver completed by a legal guardian. 
    Provide the Director with location information of all areas on the Reserve that you will use in your studies or activities PRIOR to establishing study sites.  Do not consider study sites that are within 30 feet of power poles or power lines … utility companies must access their equipment on an annual basis and study sites near the equipment might be disturbed.
    If guests wish to visit you during your stay at the Reserve, discuss this with the Reserve director at least two weeks prior to their arrival.
  4. NO SMOKING on the reserve. 
    1. Camping is by permission only. The Reiff Creek campground is available to approved Reserve users; if you need to spend the night in a tent or camper elsewhere on the Reserve, arrange this with Reserve staff.
    2. No campfires or campstoves allowed without permission from the Resident Directors. This is a high fire-hazard area.
  6. PETS
    Pets are not allowed anywhere on the Reserve without permission from the Director.
    Most roads on the Reserve are unpaved. Vehicles must stay on established roads. Speed limit is 15 mph on unpaved roads. Higher clearance vehicles are recommended; ask staff about use of roads in lower-clearance vehicles. Seasonally, roads may close due to weather or wash-outs. 
  8. GATES
    1. The gate combination changes regularly. Ask for the current gate combo when you notify the Director of your next visit.
    2. Close all gates behind you, even if you found a gate open. Never leave open any gate that you opened, even if there is another person a few minutes behind you. One exception:  the main gate to the field station is kept open between the hours of 6:30 am - 4:00 pm on weekdays. If you find it open outside of those hours, please close it. 
    3. For all gates that have more than one lock on them, ensure that you do not lock out any other locks on the chain.
    Read and abide by all regulations on field station use that are posted in the field station.  For information on what the field station provides, what you need to bring, and field station use policies, CLICK HERE.
    Do not disturb any flags or other markers in the field. Be careful to avoid disturbing research plots obscured by vegetation.  For your own work, if you use specific locations for research that should not be disturbed (such as plant research plots or  bird nest locations, for example), make sure the location is well marked and clearly visible so that others can avoid disturbing it.  Also make sure your name and date is on at least one flag associated with each location.  After studies are complete, all hardware used to mark or conduct your research must be removed unless you have otherwise arranged with the Reserve Director for establishing long-term plots.
    Do not enter the Mine Pit area, Davis Creek Reservoir, Tailings pond, buildings/structures other than the field station, or any areas signed as requiring special permission for access. Access to these areas is only through special approval. Discuss your needs with the Reserve Director.


For your first visit, you must meet with staff for an orientation.

In an emergency, in addition to calling 911, contact Reserve staff immediately.  Contact instructions and numbers are posted in the field station.  First responders take at least 20 minutes to get here and are unfamiliar with roads and terrain in this area; on-site staff will need to provide detailed information to guide the emergency response personnel. 

Nearest Hospital: Adventist Health Hospital is in the town of Clearlake, 30 minutes from the Reserve. To get to the hospital from the Reserve, drive west from the Reserve to Lower Lake and turn right (north) onto HWY 53 at the traffic light.  Drive two miles and turn right at the second traffic-light-controlled intersection (18th Avenue) you'll have encountered since turning onto HWY 53.  The hospital is on the right shortly after turning onto 18th Ave. 

On-site partners: Be aware that much of the Reserve property is still owned by Barrick/Homestake Mining Company, and the mine has employees on site who are involved in environmental monitoring and remediation.  Reserve users must respect work needs and safety policies of the mining company.

Do not enter/access any heavy equipment, structures, or facilities (besides the field station) without special permission.  Discuss with Reserve staff any activities that will take you near equipment, buildings, pipelines, powerlines, etc., prior to engaging in these activities. Some areas are open only by permission of the mining company. These locations include (but are not limited to) the Davis Creek Reservoir, Tailings Pond, Mine Pit, and all areas that have been directly impacted by past mining. If you wish to use any of these areas, the Reserve Directors will work with you to seek access permission from Barrick. After approval, you will need to comply with additional safety policies of Barrick. Not all Barrick-approval zones are obvious; to avoid accidentally starting work in a restricted zone, and to comply with Reserve policy, clear all your research locations with the Reserve Director before beginning.

Additional safety information:

Carry a spare tire, a jack, first aid equipment, and extra water.

Cell phone service is patchy. The Reserve provides two-way radios, for loan to researchers, which communicate directly with Reserve and Barrick/Homestake staff.  Radio protocols are posted at the radio check-out location, and must be followed.

Potential hazards include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Heat/Sun exposure.  The most common cause of field injury! Drink abundant water, and wear clothing that shades your skin.
  • Rattlesnakes. Wear long pants and hiking boots, and use caution around rocks, logs, or in tall grass. 
  • Poison Oak. Common across the reserve. "Leaves of three, let them be."  If you suspect you have been exposed, consider washing with Tecnu and/or taking an antihistamine.
  • Ticks. Ticks in this area may carry Lyme disease and other illnesses. Routine body-checks after field visits are advised. If bitten, monitor symptoms and consult with a physician. 
  • Mountain Lions. Avoid hiking alone, make noise, and if confronted, throw things and yell. Do not bend down. Do not turn your back or run. 
  • Rugged Terrain. McLaughlin is a wildland environment. There are downed logs, unstable rocks, steep slopes, cliffs, ground squirrel holes, steep and narrow roads, and many other potential hazards. Use caution and good judgment.
  • Hantavirus. This is a potentially fatal disease caused by a virus associated with mice. Do not handle live or dead rodents or their feces or urine. Use wet-cleaning techniques when cleaning up reserve facilities.
  • Hunting and trespassing may occur in the area. Please notifying the Reserve Manager of any inappropriate uses of the reserve.