Santa Cruz Travel Guide


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Santa Cruz RV Parks

Santa Cruz campgrounds and RV Parks, tent camping and trailer campsites

Life seems so much simpler when you get back to nature in a Santa Cruz campground. Whether you prefer tent camping, car camping or living off the land in a well insulated trailer, it’s a perfect location where the big question of the day is to s’more, or not to s’more

Unplugging from all of the electronic devices and experiencing the natural beauty of Santa Cruz can help turn screen time into actual family face time. To help with the unplugging—at least temporarily —we have created a list of what we think are some of the top State owned public campgrounds in and around Santa Cruz County’s cities, beaches and forests.  

State owned Santa Cruz campgrounds tend to focus on the art of camping -– generally catering to tent camping, car camping, trailers and smaller RVs. Although many do have designated RV sites, they tend to be a little more rustic than privately owned RV Parks.

The public campgrounds are generally located further away from populated areas such as Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Watsonville.

Several of our listings have primitive campsites. These are generally tent camping only campgrounds.

If your dream campsite is near the beach, you may want to look at Seacliff State Beach. It is located along a long stretch of beach backed by bluffs. It’s known for its fishing pier, swimming and concrete freighter, The Palo Alto.

Another location close to the beach is the Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park. Centrally located in the City of Santa Cruz, it’s close to several very cool beaches, shops, and restaurants.

To review a list of Santa Cruz Campgrounds located along coast or nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, please click or scroll down the page.

We also list privatley owned RV Parks located near the City of Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville.

If you would like to search another vacation location, please select it from our Destination Explorer and search away!

Santa Cruz Campgrounds and RV Parks Located Along the Coast

Big Basin Redwoods State ParkBig Basin / Rancho Del Oso — campgrounds

The ocean end of Big Basin, Hwy 1   831-338-8860

Located 20 miles north of Santa Cruz on Hwy. 1, the park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. Maps

 Forest of Nisene MarksThe Forest of Nisene Marks State Park— Remote Camps

Aptos Creek Rd. & Soquel Dr., Aptos, CA  (831) 763-7062

The park has 10,000 acres of rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet.

Manresa State Beach – Family camp sites

205 Manresa Beach Rd.,  La Selva Beach, CA 95076 (831) 763-7063

The beach features a beautiful expanse of sea and sand, with surf fishing, and recreation.

New Brighton State BeachNew Brighton State Beach — Campgrounds

201 State Park Drive.,  Aptos, CA  (831) 464-6330

The park features picnic areas, swimming, fishing and a nearby forest of Monterey pine. The camping area’s campsites are located on a bluff overlooking northern Monterey Bay.

Portola Redwoods State ParkPortola Redwoods State Park


The park has a rugged, natural basin forested with coast redwoods, Douglas fir and live oak. Eighteen miles of trails crisscross the canyon and its two streams, Peters Creek and Pescadero Creek.

Pigeon Point Light StationPigeon Point Light Station — Hostel

210 Pigeon Point Rd. Hwy 1, Pescadero  (650) 879-0633

On California Highway 1, 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 27 miles north of Santa Cruz

Seacliff State BeachSeacliff State Beach

201 State Park Drive.,  Aptos, CA  (831) 429-2850

The park is known for its fishing pier and concrete freighter, the Palo Alto. The beach is also a popular swimming spot. There is a long stretch of sand backed by bluffs.

Sunset State BeachSunset State Beach — Campgrounds

201 Sunset Beach Rd., Watsonville, CA  (831) 763-7062

The park features pine trees, mountainous sand dunes, and Pacific Ocean side picnic spots. Bordered by large agricultural fields between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey, the beach is a year-round destination for thousands of visitors.

Santa Cruz Rustic Resorts - CostanoaCostanoa Tents, Cabins and Lodge

2001 Rossi Road – Pescadero, CA

Connected to four State Parks – 30,000 acres of hiking trails – and a vibrant wildlife reserve – Costanoa offers the unique opportunity to experience outdoor living in comfortable stylish surroundings.  Accommodations include canvas cabins – Douglas Fir Cabins – and a forty-room Lodge. Special features include on-site spa services – horseback riding – mountain bike rentals – children’s activities – and a general store and cafe.

 Santa Cruz Campgrounds and RV Parks Located in the Mountains

Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, and Felton

Big BasinBig Basin Redwoods State Park — Campgrounds

21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA   831-338-8860

The park has miles of trails that link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range.  The trails are utilized by both hikers and equestrians.

Big Basin Tent Cabins — Open Year Round

21600 Big Basin Hwy, Boulder Creek  (800) 874-8368

Butano State Park — Campgrounds

1500 Cloverdale Rd., Pescadero, CA  (650) 879-2040

A 2,200-acre redwood park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, featuring excellent hiking through the redwood groves. Only three miles from the Pacific coast, the park’s trails offer views of the Pacific Ocean and the Año Nuevo islands.

Castle RockCastle Rock State Park — Backpacker campgrounds

15000 Skyline Blvd., Los Gatos, CA   (408) 867-2952

Along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park contains 3,600 acres of coast redwood, Douglas-fir, and madrone forest. Steep canyons are sprinkled with unusual rock formations that are popular with rock climbers, and hikers can enjoy the 32 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails.

Cotillion Gardens RV Park

300 Old Big Trees Road, Felton, CA  (831) 335-7669

The RV Park is located near Santa Cruz, California, nestled in the giant redwoods and San Lorenzo River. They offer a year round destination for those looking to explore the bay area and redwood forests.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State ParkHenry Cowell Redwoods State Park

101 North Big Trees Park Rd., Felton, CA   (831) 438-2396

The park features 15 miles of hiking and riding trails through a forest that looks much the same as it did 200 years ago. The park is the home of the Redwood grove, with a self-guided nature path, and Douglas fir, madrone, oak and the most unusual feature of the park, a stand of Ponderosa pine.

Portola Redwoods State ParkPortola Redwoods State Park


The park has a rugged, natural basin forested with coast redwoods, Douglas fir and live oak. Eighteen miles of trails crisscross the canyon and its two streams, Peters Creek and Pescadero Creek.

Are you looking for a centrally located RV Park with plenty of creature comforts? Visit our Santa Cruz RV Parks page for more options.

City of Santa Cruz Area RV Parks and Campgrounds

Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park (Upper Yacht Harbor)

135 5th Ave., Santa Cruz, CA (831) 475-3279
The R.V. park is located in the north harbor. Do not bring your rig to the harbor office. The Port District maintains a harbor patrol who are on duty 24 hrs/day.

Santa Vida RV Park & Campground

1611 Branciforte Drive, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-1945
Santa Vida is minutes from downtown Santa Cruz, and offers RV sites in a 23 acre forest setting of beautiful redwoods, madrone, and oak.

Seacliff Center Trailer Park

234 State Park Drive, Seacliff, CA  (831) 688-3813
Seacliff Center RV Park is located near Seacliff State Beach by the historic S.S. Palo Alto cement ship that once floated offshore as an entertainment vessel for dining, dancing and fun, now permanently moored at Seacliff California State Beach.

Redwood Resort — RV Park and Campground

150 East Grove, Boulder Creek, CA  (831) 338-3413
The Redwood Resort of Boulder Creek California is a small privately owned RV park and campground nestled amongst the majestic redwood trees. The RV park is open year round and the campground is open May through September.

Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

4980 Highway 9, Felton, CA  (831) 335-8312
Situated on the beautiful San Lorenzo River and backed by Henry Cowell State Park our clean, newly renovated RV Park and campground offer guests a year round, family oriented, place to relax or a base camp for your outdoor adventure.

Smithwoods RV Park

4770 Hwy 9, Felton, CA  (831) 335-4321

Scotts Valley RV Parks

Santa Cruz Ranch RV Park

917 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA  (831) 438-1288
Nestled in the trees just minutes away from Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz our resort is here to serve your RV vacation needs.

Watsonville RV Parks


1186 San Andreas Road, La Selva Beach, CA (831) 722-0551

Marina Dunes RV Park

3330 Dunes Dr, Marina, CA 93933  (831) 384-6914

Pinto Lake Park

451 Green Valley Road, Watsonville, CA  (831) 722-8129
Quiet lakeside RV campground in Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz area. Enjoy RV park, the local attractions, the nearby wildlife or just go fishing.


What’s on Tap
This Summer


Santa Cruz Festivals & Events:

Free Friday Night Bands—Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

10K Firecracker Race & Kids 1K—July 4, 2016

4th of July Fireworks Celebration—Scotts Valley Community Center & Skypark

Aptos 4th of July Celebration

Old-Fashioned Independence Day—Wilder Ranch State Park

Shakespeare Santa Cruz – Summer Festival

44th Annual Wharf to Wharf Race —July 24, 2016

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music—July 31 to Aug. 13, 2016

22nd Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival—Aug. 6 & 7, 2016

Santa Cruz City Amateur Golf Championship—Aug. 13 & 14, 2016

Scotts Valley Festival of Art and Wine—Aug. 20-21, 2016

Race Thru The Redwoods—Aug. 21, 2016


For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Santa Cruz.



Top Santa Cruz Attractions:


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Fun for all ages.

Santa Cruz Fishing 

Fall is fishing and crabbing season in Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz Surfing

With 11 world-class surf breaks such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, it is easy to understand why the greatest surfers in the world call Santa Cruz home!

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May


For more information on local attractions, click on the Attractions or Recreational Activities.




The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. Rush hour traffic can be extremely challenging – especially along Mission Street and Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Capitols. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.