(Last Updated: July 2, 2020)
***COVID Update: California State Parks in Santa Cruz County will be operational in accordance with existing public health rules and regulations as defined by Santa Cruz County and the State of California. At this time, all Santa Cruz County State Parks are open, with the exception of the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park and all campgrounds. Parking lots are open at nearly all Santa Cruz County State Parks, with the exception of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Castle Rock State Park, Rancho Del Oso, the Fall Creek Unit, and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Parking fees are in effect, and face coverings are required when at a parking kiosk. Safety must remain the top priority for the Santa Cruz County community and its visitors: if a park looks too crowded to maintain physical distancing of six feet or greater, reschedule your visit. Stay safe and enjoy the beauty of the Santa Cruz County responsibly! For up-to-date information on Santa Cruz County State Parks opening status click here. ***
With over 14 state parks and beaches, there’s every reason to get outside and play (and hike!). Santa Cruz County is home to California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and hidden gems like the Twisted Forest at Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos. Look for a “cement ship,” an albino redwood tree, sand dunes, tide pools, and other natural wonders which are in abundance at California state parks in Santa Cruz County.
Enjoy the best of both views at Wilder Ranch State Park. Grasslands, oaks, knobcone pines, coastal redwoods, douglas firs, rugged coastline, tidepools, hidden beaches, Victorian farmhouse, barns — need we say more? Wilder Ranch boasts a wide assortment of terrain and habitat, and offers over 34 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails winding through coastal terraces and valleys.
For a family-friendly hike, head up to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park! Whether your excursion includes tiny tikes or tough teens, Henry Cowell has a trail for you and yours. The main park area features 15 miles of hiking and riding trails through a variety of forested areas with redwoods, mixed evergreens, ponderosa pines, and even sandhills. Some park trails run alongside the San Lorenzo River.
Santa Cruz County also offers a variety of campsites within our parks. Pitch your tent at New Brighton State Beach, which offers 114 rentable spaces. Whether in a tent or an RV, this site stands perched on a wooded bluff of Pine and Cypress trees overlooking the magnificent Monterey Bay. For a tents-only experience, visit Manresa Uplands State Beach. This setting offers access to a remote section of wide, sandy beach that stretches for miles between Rio Del Mar to the north and the Pajaro River to the south.
See below for a full list of parks in Santa Cruz County!