Under the Redwoods in Santa Cruz

Our original plan was to stay in San Juan Bautista for 2-3 weeks until Rover’s final warranty repairs were completed but we really didn’t like the RV Park we were staying in. The spaces were tiny with barely enough room for Max’s ramp, the resort felt like a large parking lot (all paved), and the areas where Max could go to the bathroom were pretty far away, making it difficult for him and a bit frustrating. The nice thing about having an RV is that you can always leave if you aren’t happy so that’s what we did. We’d only pre-paid for one week, so we used that week to get some chores done and do reconnaissance on other nearby campgrounds.

We found a nice RV Park 40 miles northwest (about a 65 minute drive in Rover), right outside of Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is nestled within a grove of tall California redwood trees and felt more like a traditional campground (lots of trees, a river, campfires, dogs, and kids playing) which is what we prefer over more commercial RV Parks (rows of tightly packed RVs in a parking lot). The customer service here was truly outstanding, the best we’ve run across so far! They did everything possible to make us feel welcome and comfortable. The only downside to the park is that because it’s essentially inside a forest, very little sun makes it through the trees and it’s much colder than in town just a mile or two away. Still, we really enjoyed our stay.

Rover parked at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Rover parked at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Henry Cowell Redwood State Park is right across the river from the RV Resort and if you wanted, you could wade across the shallow river and walk through the park. Since I didn’t want wet shoes, socks, and jeans, we decided to just drive a mile to the entrance and walk the trails from there. Opie and I took a five mile walk through some amazing redwoods, but only a few trails here allow dogs. There was one tree that had fallen over and the roots were enormous! Tip: the state park charges $10 if you bring your car into the park, but there is parking along the road outside the entrance so you can walk in and avoid the charge.

Henry Cowell Redwood State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods

Since we were still in prime strawberry territory, we had to stop at the Farmers Market for my fix. The Santa Cruz farmers market is actually located in five different locations (different days of the week). We checked out the downtown market on Wednesday, then the one in Scotts Valley on Saturday. Yes, three pints of strawberries disappeared in two days, it’s a terrible addiction! No dogs allowed at the farmers markets here.



Much of California seems very dog friendly and Santa Cruz was no exception. We found two very nice dog parks, one in downtown Santa Cruz at Frederick Street Park, and another in Scotts Valley at Skypark Dog Park. Both Max and Opie enjoyed meeting dogs and hanging out in the sun. Since we’re constantly trying burn off Opie’s energy, we decided to take him for a nice walk along West Cliff Drive which hugs right up to the Santa Cruz coast. The coastal views are gorgeous and it’s a good place to watch the surfers.

Surf's up!

Surf’s up!

We passed the Surfing Monument and the Dead Surfer Memorial. Originally we were a bit puzzled when we saw the memorial, then we saw Steamer Lane and understood. Steamer Lane is a famous surfing location but there is no beach area here and it’s not for beginners. Surfers make their way down the stairs and across rocks to get into the ocean. If you aren’t careful, you can easily crash upon the rocks while surfing and suffer serious injuries.

Be very very careful!

Be very very careful!

After gawking at the brave surfers, we continued along West Cliff Drive and saw a beach full of dogs at Mitchell’s Cove. Opie was determined not to be the only dry dog so he pulled me as fast as he could down the stairs and into the surf (I think we’ve created a monster). He had a great time romping in the water and sand, meeting new dogs, and making friends with anyone willing to pet him. We finally dragged him out of the water and continued our walk. The views are great and the pavement is wide enough for plenty of pedestrians, bikers, and dogs. It’s a great way to spend a gorgeous day, but if you want to find parking near the coast, you have to get here early!

In general, we try to always find activities to do with Opie since he loves to be out and about but it’s not always possible. The last two stops we’ve been lucky to be in very dog-friendly areas with lots of great places to visit with dogs so most of our activities have been very dog-centric. Then when we hit an area that isn’t as dog-friendly, we don’t feel so guilty leaving Opie and Max behind in Rover while we explore.


  1. Edward   •  

    I’ve spent a lot of time in the Santa Cruz area, if you’re still there you should check out Big Basin and Roaring Camp (narrow gauge steam railroad) also have breakfast at Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant or dinner at Round Table Pizza. You’ve probably noticed the boardwalk already.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Thanks for the recommendations. Unfortunately we’ve already moved on. We’re in Napa and leaving for Willets, CA today. We’ll have to remember this for the next time we’re in Santa Cruz though. I didn’t know you spent time in Santa Cruz. It’s a very pretty area.

    • Mike   •  

      We saw signs for the narrow gauge railroad / Roaring Camp right down the road from our campground. D’oh!

  2. DebbieM   •  

    That is a wonderful area. I grew up just over Hwy 17. Where will you guys be in the next couple months? We’ll be back “home” in Placerville, but my sister still lives in San Jose and we have a wedding in Santa Cruz area and a graduation in Monterey. We’ll be in San Jose for a few days on a couple of occasions.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Oh, bad timing! We’re already out of Santa Cruz and heading up north. We’ll be in Oregon in a couple of weeks. We do have a basic itinerary on the right side of our page so if you’re in any of those areas, let us know. Would love to meet up! Enjoy the Santa Cruz/San Jose area. We really enjoyed it, it’s very beautiful.

  3. Jay & Dee   •  

    What a great campsite! Get’s us excited for our upcoming trip to Redwoods N.P.
    Can’t wait to see your pics from the next leg of your adventure. Keep having fun!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Ooooh! Is the trip in an RV? We’re headed to Redwoods National Park in a few days. When are you going? If it’s in the next 1.5 weeks, we may end up bumping into each other again. That would be cool.

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