NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

 Santa Cruz Mountains Loop

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Visitor Center

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Visitor Center

Here's a nice trip that works well for as few as two days since its close-in to San Francisco and doesn't require long days on the road. And its nice in the spring when higher elevation destinations are still snowed-in or just cold. You can vary the trip to suit your tastes, but our version takes you from San Francisco south on Int. 280 to the Saratoga Road exit, west again on Hwy. 9 and eventually southwest on Hwy. 236. After lingering awhile along Hwy. 236 you will eventually re-connect with Hwy. 9 at the village of Boulder Creek and pass thru the villages of Ben Lomond and Felton enroute to Santa Cruz. From there you can wander a bit south to the villages of Capitola or Watsonville and any of the many beaches that dot the coast in this area. Of course you could also continue south to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur, but that would be cheating. When its time to head home, take Hwy. 1 north to Pacifica and San Francisco.

Read our itinerary for more detail, but you will have many opportunities to play. You will pass Castle Rock, Big Basin Redwoods and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Parks before you get to Santa Cruz. Loch Lomond Reservoir is close by. Around Santa Cruz you once again have a choice of beaches, including Natural Bridges, the seasonal home to tens of thousands of Monarch Butterflies. And much more. Read on.

Itinerary Things To Do Campgrounds Photo Gallery