Photo by Lisa Fay Larson
As summer comes to an end, most of us look forward to stunning displays of fall foliage, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and drinking our fill of pumpkin spice lattes. But there’s another reason to get excited for shorter, crisper days and less persistent fog banks. Fall is migration season along California’s Central Coast, and one of the top places for birds to get some much-needed R&R before they continue their long flight south is right here in Santa Cruz County.
Photo by Garrick Ramirez
Santa Cruz County delivers added value once summer ends, when mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower hotel rates help make travel more affordable. This season, there are plenty of free activities and events that won’t cost a penny. Below are a few of our favorite tips! For more info, check out our Top 12 Free Things to Do in Santa Cruz County for Fall and Winter.
All Photos by Molly Ressler
Perched atop one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park offers expansive views of the San Lorenzo Valley. Miles of forested peaks stretch out below, fading from chartreuse and emerald green to sage, the furthest peaks a hazy blue that meet the fog-shrouded Pacific. Although not as famous as its neighbor, Big Basin State Park, Castle Rock has its own grove of redwoods, a 75-foot waterfall, miles of hiking along open ridges and through shady forests, and a playground of sandstone rock formations attracting both world-class climbers and amateur scramblers.