NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Santa Cruz Mountains Loop Campgrounds

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Tent- CabinSee our write-up on park attractions. As noted there, this is primarily a hikers park, with limited access to anything by road. So if you're not walking you will be limited to sights immediately adjacent to the Visitor Center. Facilities include a Visitor Center, small museum and store. Tent- cabins (left) are available from a concessionaire for $75 per night.

Location: On Hwy. 236 west of the city of Saratoga in the Santa Cruz Mountains. See our park write-up for specific directions.

Attraction: Redwood groves and hiking trails.

Campsite Description: 31 sites for tents or RV's to 27 feet or trailers to 24 feet. No hookups. 69 sites for tents only. 38 walk-in sites. 36 tent cabins operated by a concessionaire at a cost of $75 per night in 2010. Two hike-in/bike-in sites, 52 hike-in sites and four group sites for up to 50 people complete the picture. All sites have fire grills, picnic tables, flimsy food lockers, drinking water and restrooms with flush toilets and showers. A dump station is nearby.

Season: Year-round.

Reservations: Accepted at 800-444-PARK or Required for the tent-cabins at 831-338-4745 or at the park store.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $35   Fishing No
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers Yes   Elev 0-2,000 ft.
Toilets Flush   Supplies Yes

Information: Big Basin Redwoods State Park. 831-338-8860.

Day Hikes in Area: Many. Buy a $3 park map.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Several. The Skyline-to-the-Sea trail covers 38 miles from nearby Castle Rock State Park thru Big Basin Redwoods to the Pacific Ocean.

References: California Camping, page 490.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

CampgroundSee our write-up on the park for more information. Unlike campsites at most parks featuring redwoods, this one has many sites in the open with access to sunlight; great on a cold or damp day.

Location: In Felton, in the Santa Cruz Mountains about 25 miles from Santa Cruz. Note that the campground and day-use areas have separate entrances.

Attraction: Redwood groves, hiking trails and the Roaring Camp Railroad for kids.

Campsite Description: 111 sites for tents or RV's to 35 feet. No hookups. One bike-in site. Picnic tables, fire grills, food lockers and restrooms with flush toilets and showers. Some sites with wheelchair access. WiFi hotspot. Alcohol is prohibited in the campground, a legacy of past students at nearby UC Santa Cruz.

Season: Generally March thru October.

Reservations: Accepted at 800-444-PARK or

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $35   Fishing San Lorenzo Creek
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers Yes   Elev Unk
Toilets Flush   Supplies Nearby

Information: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. 831-438-2396.

Day Hikes in Area: Several. From the campground near Site 49 take a .7 mile hike to a lookout platform for views of the surrounding area. There are several dog-friendly hikes in the day-use area.

References: California Camping, page 493.

Note: In the greater Santa Cruz area there are numerous other choices at various state beaches. See our-write-ups. Options include Seacliff, New Brighton, Sunset and Manresa State Beaches. The latter is tent-only.

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