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Big Basin

Boulder Creek
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Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California's oldest State Park, established in 1902. Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, the park consists of over 18,000 acres of old growth and recovering redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The climate ranges from foggy and damp near the ocean to sunny, warm ridge tops.


The park features family and group camping, tent cabins, backpacking camps, hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. The park is open year round and reservations are encouraged during the summer.


The park has over 80 miles of trails. Be sure and pick up a map at park headquarters before your hike and take a look at the multimedia kiosk in the Sempervirens Room (next to park headquarters). There you will find great information, photos, and video of some of the most popular trails.


Some trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh.


The park has a surprising number of waterfalls and a wide variety of environments from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes. Many animals such as deer, raccoon, coyote, fox, an occasional bobcat, mountain lion, and many bird species--including California quail, egret, heron, hawk, owl, woodpecker, and the endangered marbled murrelet--call Big Basin home. And of course there are always plenty of banana slugs!


Address: 21600 Big Basin Way

Castle Rock State Park

Los Gatos
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Located along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Castle Rock State Park contains numerous plant communities and the steep canyons are sprinkled with unusual rock formations that are popular with rock climbers. The park is crisscrossed by 32 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. These trails are part of a more extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys with Castle Rock State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the Pacific Coast.



Address: 15000 Skyline Boulevard

Day Break Camp


Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

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Henry Cowell features 15 miles of hiking and riding trails through the forest. There is a picnic area next to the San Lorenzo River. The park has a nature center and bookstore. Adjoining the park is Roaring Camp Railroad, offering visitors a chance to journey back in time on an old steam locomotive. The main park area, containing the large, old-growth redwoods, is about 1,750 acres, and the northern area (Fall Creek) is 2,390 acres, with about 20 miles of hiking trails.



Address: 101 North Big Trees Park Road

Manresa Uplands State Park

La Selva Beach,

Manresa Uplands Campground provides dramatic views of the ocean from the bluffs above the beach. This beautiful expanse of sea and sand offers surf fishing, surfing and other beach recreation.


Highway 1
San Andreas Road southwest, for four miles
Right on Sand Dollar Road
Veer left to Manresa Uplands Campground


64 sites with walk-in tent only camping, $25 per night
Restrooms, Showers

The weather varies from cool and foggy to windy to bright and sunny. Layered clothing is advised.

Dogs are allowed on the beach on leash.


Address: 205 Manresa Road 831-761-1795

Mount Madonna County Park

(408) 842-2341
Mount Madonna

(Site Photos) MountMadonnaCountyPark.jpgWelcome to Mt. Madonna County Park, one of the most majestic of Santa Clara County''s regional park and recreation areas. This 3,688 acre park is dominated by the redwood forest so characteristic of the Santa Cruz Mountain range. To the east, the park overlooks the Santa Clara Valley, to the west, Monterey Bay. As the slopes of Mt. Madonna descend toward the valley, the landscape changes from redwood forest to oak woodland, dense chaparral and grassy meadows. Park visitors may learn about areas where Ohlone Indians hunted and harvested, and will understand why cattle baron Henry Miller spent his summers here. Enjoy your visit today, and return often to the pristine redwood forest of Mt. Madonna County Park.



Visitors may choose from 118 drive-in and walk-in reservable campsites spread throughout four campgrounds. Each site comes equipped with a barbecue pit, food locker and picnic table. Showers are also available (no coins needed) with a day use or camping fee required, as well as 17 partial hook-up RV sites. Hikers and equestrians have access to an extensive 14 mile trail system. Shaded picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Group picnic, group camping and youth camping areas are available by reservation. Bowmen may practice archery skills at the beautiful archery range. A one mile self-guided nature trail winds around the ruins of cattle baron Henry Miller''s summer home. The park's amphitheater, available by reservation for weddings and other special functions, also features live music and slide shows Memorial Day through Labor Day. These free shows are provided by park docents every Saturday at 8 p.m. The park also features a visitor center where the natural history, geology and cultural history of the park is highlighted.


Address: Highway 152 at Pole Line Road

New Brighton State Beach

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New Brighton State Beach is one of the most popular and most visited state beaches in California. This 93-acre park along the beautiful coast of Santa Cruz offers spectacular views of the Monterey Bay. It is famous for its family-oriented campground which sits on the towering bluffs high above the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful, lush vegetation of towering pine trees, Monterey Cypress, oak, eucalyptus trees, and wild berry vines surround campers with a peaceful tranquility. Once the site of a Chinese fishing village, it now offers locals and visitors a haven from the hectic pace of city life.

Hwy 1 to New Brighton/Park Avenue exit off Hwy 1,

Right at bottom of ramp,

Left at 1st stop sign. 


The visitor center is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10-4. See, explore and experience the stories of people, settlers and cultures that are a part of this region’s rich history. The Pacific Migrations Visitor Center explores the many Pacific Rim migrations, both by people and by creatures of the air and sea. For more information, please call (831) 464-5620.

Camping Information &
Reservations 800-444-7275, December through February off reservation: first come first serve only

Camping fees:
-Regular (72 sites, up to 36') $25/day
-Premium (4 sites) $35/day (best ocean views)
-Hookup (6 sites) $35.00/day
-Bicycle sites (4) $3.00/person/day
-Group Site (3 sites) $125.00/day
-Senior (62+) Discount $2.00 off/day
-Disabled Discount 1/2 off/day with state pass

Address: 1500 Park Avenue

Portola Redwoods State Park

La Honda
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     The park is in a rugged, natural basin forested with coast redwoods, Douglas fir and live oak. Eighteen miles of trails crisscross the canyon and several streams, notably Slate Creek, Peters Creek and Pescadero Creek. Trails also connect to trails in adjacent parks. The Sequoia Self-guided Nature Trail and Old Tree Trail introduce visitors to the natural history of the area. The park has one of the tallest redwoods (over 300 feet high) in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

     The Portola Campground is closed from December 1st to May 1st. Also, in severe weather the park might be closed.  Fill your gas tank before driving to the park. Closest gas is 14 miles from the park, in Sky Londa. Closest store is 9 miles from the park in La Honda.

56 Family campsites, 6 backpack sites, 4 group sites. No camping December 1st through March 31st. Reservations required. See General Info, below, for more information.


Address: 9000 Portola State Park Road, #F

Seacliff State Beach

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     Long stretch of sandy beach great for walks or strolls on the bay. Picnic areas, interpretive center and RV camping. Summer Camping Reservations 800.444.7275.  Access is from various points along East Cliff Dr.

     Looking onto the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Seacliff State Beach was established as a state park in 1931, after the first successful state bond issue in 1930 to support state parks. The avidly used shore walkway connects New Brighton State Beach and Rio del Mar Beach. Veins of extinct marine fossils layer the coastal bluffs.
     Seacliff history includes Ohlone Indian lives and burial grounds, Spanish land grants to the Castro family, redwood timber shipments, Claus Spreckles, King Kamehameha, how surfing came to California, and the USS Palo Alto, the concrete ship in the waters off Seacliff Pier, that has attracted visitors since it was placed here in 1929. One of only three "cement" ships built during World War I, the original owners' plan for the ship and the pier was short-lived. Today the recently refurbished Seacliff fishing pier overlooks the picturesque concrete ship, which provides protected marine habitat.


*Tour the Visitor Center cultural and natural history exhibits, and talk to our knowledgeable docents and interpreters

*Come to Festival of the Cement Ship in June (first Saturday) and the Migration Festival in February (second Saturday)

*Join us for free, docent-led, guided tours of the fossil beds and guided history walks


RV camping only, 26 sites:-$44 premium, $39 inland. Full Hook-up (Incl. 1-Disabled)
Reservations: 800-444-7275

Address: State Park Drive

Sunset State Beach

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     Day Use open daily 6am-sunsetThe historic Van Laanan farm provides the backdrop for this large park at the south end of Santa Cruz County. Surrounded by fertile farmland, Sunset State Beach features a wooded campground, picnic area, group campground, and 200-foot high dunes (the largest in the country) built up in front of coastal bluff. The beach itself stretches down to where it meets the mouth of the Pajaro River, giving three miles of unobstructed and spectacular shoreline.

     Visitors enjoy broad vistas of the Monterey Bay from two main overlooks. During the summer and autumn, it is possible to see large groups of bottle nosed dolphins. The beach features pine trees, mountainous sand dunes, and ocean side picnic spots. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but are allowed in campsites, on leash at all times.


16 miles south of Santa Cruz
Hwy 1, exit on San Andreas Road
Follow signs south.


Camping, Year round campground and picnic area on the beach, Reservations 800.444.7275

91 camping sites, $25.00 per night, 1 bicycle site, $3/person/night; maximum 8 people, 1 group site, $224/night.

Picnic tables


Address: 201 Sunset Beach Road

The Forest of Nisene Marks

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(Site Photos) ParkNisene.jpgThe Forest of Nisene Marks The park offers 10,000 acres of rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet. The site of logging operations until the 1920s, visitors can still find evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles in the park. The land was purchased by the Marks family in the 1950s, and was donated to the state in 1963. There are 30 miles of trails nestled in this second growth forest, which are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, or a leisurely stroll. Horses are allowed on a portion of the fire road and some trails. A number of picnic areas are available with charcoal grills. Dogs are allowed on fire roads only, and must be on leash.

Primitive trail camping available, reservations required. See General Info, below, for camping information details.

The weather can vary from cool to hot within a few hours. Layered clothing is advised.

Pit toilets
Picnic areas, Food, lodging, and supplies nearby

Dogs are allowed on leash on the fire road up to the Porter Picnic area.

More Camping Information Primitive trail camping available--6 campsites, 6 mile intermediate hike one way, 6 people per site. $5 per person, per night. Reservations required. Call 831-763-7073 to reserve. NOTE: Water is not available. You must bring your own water.

JUVENILES (those under 18 years of age), not camping with a parent or legal guardian must have WRITTEN permission to camp in the park. Permission letters must include the name of the park, the name of the juvenile, the dates they may stay and the name, address, phone number and signature of the person's parent or legal guardian. The parent must be reachable at all times during the juvenile's visit. Children 14 years of age and under may not camp without a parent present during the stay.


Address: Aptos Creek Rd & Soquel

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