(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)


When I heard the news, a wave of relief so great washed over me, I felt the unex­pect­ed strain of tears, bits of mois­ture man­ag­ing to squeeze through. Until that moment, I had­n’t real­ized our fam­i­ly camp­ing trip to San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort had had such an impact on me. 


“The fire­fight­ers did every­thing they could to hold the line at Fel­ton,” said Kiaya McCur­ley, San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort Prop­er­ty Man­ag­er, though, as the fires dashed through the ancient woods, McCur­ley evac­u­at­ed with her hus­band, leav­ing their 5th wheel behind and bor­rowed a motorhome from a friend to sit out the near­by flames.


I think this area, brim­ming with green, had pro­duced a pow­er­ful impact on our lit­tle fam­i­ly because we tech­ni­cal­ly live in the desert. We vis­it­ed San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort from Los Ange­les where we water a lot to make it look green, but in drought years, we remem­ber where we live. The more envi­ron­men­tal­ly-con­scious of us have embraced our parched real­i­ty and turned instead to desert-scap­ing. In the sum­mer, regard­less of the size of our per­son­al water bill, the brown and crispy hills that sur­round our homes take away any delusions.






A Camping trip to the Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort where the majestic redwoods are your home and state parks are your neighbors. Take a daytrip to Santa Cruz Boardwalk with your kids. Check out the nearby skateparks. A full guide for adventurous families.



So, when we arrived at the San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort, our fam­i­ly was unpre­pared for the vast­ness of the fairy tale red­wood trees that blocked the sky with their tremen­dous girth. It appeared to us that a giant farmer had plant­ed mag­ic beans in the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia soil around San­ta Cruz Coun­ty. The spell he cast gath­ered the trees into the clouds to dwell among the gods at Mount Olym­pus. The red­wood’s enor­mi­ty, sus­tained by reg­u­lar dous­ings from the near­by Pacif­ic Ocean, made my chest feel both heavy and light as I breathed in the air scrubbed clean by nature’s soldiers. 



Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort: Things to do for families

The Red Pill Makes You Small­er and the Blue Pill Makes You Large © Rina Nehdar



So, a few weeks after our return to Los Ange­les, we heard about the dev­as­tat­ing fire that was con­sum­ing acres of these majes­tic forests. We cringed to think of the beau­ty lost. 



CZU Lightening Fire

CZU Light­ning Fire  © Noah Berger



Although we were relieved to find the fire had spared the town of Fel­ton, in which the San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort is sit­u­at­ed, McCur­ley said, “It’s heart­break­ing to think of what hap­pened to the oth­er folks.”  As of the writ­ing of this arti­cle, fire­fight­ers have con­tained 97% of the more than 86,000 his­toric acres that the beast­ly CZU Light­ning Com­plex fire has reduced to ash­es. As the area begins to recov­er, and the air returns to its bliss­ful state, fam­i­lies and friends can once again return to and enjoy the San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort camp­grounds, next door to Hen­ry Cow­ell Red­woods State Park, and Cal­i­for­ni­a’s old­est state park, Big Basin Red­woods State Park, which is only a half-hour away.



What To Do At Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort


Rallies and Group Camping


Aristocrats Anonymous at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Aged like fine wine © Rina Nehdar


For the past 8 years, the Face­book-based vin­tage RV group, Aris­to­crats Anony­mous — or AA for short — has gath­ered beneath the red­wood giants at San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort to share their lives and their love of restored trav­el trail­ers. “We’re addict­ed to them,” said Toni DeCoster, for­mer retail cloth­ing exec­u­tive and cur­rent San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort Ral­ly Co-Wag­on­mas­ter, as we spoke in front of the adult bev­er­age bar she had just installed into the tail end of her 1966 Aris­to­crat Land Com­man­der trailer. 


Aristocrats Anonymous at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Let’s Make A Toast! © Toni DeCoster


We hap­pened to get lucky to be stay­ing at the RV resort the one week­end in the year that the group gath­ered there. We got our spot because of a last-minute can­cel­la­tion. Par­tic­i­pants had bought out all their ded­i­cat­ed spots at the camp­grounds months before.




Rows and rows of adult play­hous­es lined the cement path­way con­nect­ing the camp­sites. We arrived late Fri­day after­noon and on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, the col­lec­tors opened their cre­ations, social dis­tant style, to curi­ous campers and among them­selves. We ooohed, aaaa­hed and admired all the details and fine-tun­ing that each of these trail­ers now pos­sessed. Some offered pic­tures of the dilap­i­dat­ed con­di­tion in which they had bought them. Nor­man Rock­well could have filled the pages of The Sat­ur­day Evening Post with the results of their ded­i­ca­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty. You could see the video of their efforts here.


In the evenings, the preser­va­tion­ists gath­ered around camp­fires, like mod­ern-day cave­men, chan­nel­ing the time when tribes came togeth­er to thwart dark­ness with warm light. “The goal is to get every­one to come back to your trail­er to drink and eat,” said for­mer mort­gage con­sul­tant, Ter­ri Lynn Camp­bell, also known as TLC. Her charm cer­tain­ly drew me to her trail­er and I sat with mem­bers of their group as they caught up on their real lives over the last year. Out­side of the make-belief, they shared dur­ing this one week­end, “It’s like adults play­ing doll­house,” said one par­tic­i­pant, on this night, they caught up on all the real things too. Some good, some not so great but the cir­cle of light they found around each oth­er’s hearths extend­ed into their hearts. 

As we sat around Camp­bel­l’s camp­fire, eat­ing and drink­ing on their final night, fourth-grade teacher, Scott Chase said, “This is the kind of place where all walks of life come and inter­twine.” As Camp­bell met her goal.…

Although the group already has over 4000 mem­bers, there are ral­lies nation­wide and they always wel­come vin­tage trail­er enthusiasts.


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Campground During Covid


Dur­ing our stay, most of the man-made resort ameni­ties were closed for COVID. That’s ok. That was­n’t what we had come for but the laun­dry facil­i­ties, showers/bathrooms and com­pli­men­ta­ry wifi still worked. Their web­site does­n’t appear to be giv­ing updates so call for more info (831) 335‑8312





The Club­house is a cab­in that blends right into the rus­tic envi­ron­ment. The Club­house deck over­looks the crag­gy San Loren­zo Riv­er by site #22. It has a full kitchen, a rec room and holds up to 75 peo­ple. Nor­mal­ly, you could gath­er with your crew here but it’s closed for the rest of 2020. You can pick up to-go break­fasts, though, dur­ing the weekends.


Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort Clubhouse

Blends Right In © Rina Nehdar



Recreation Room


While the kids sleep in your RV, walkie talkie by their beds, you can have a night out play­ing pool or chill­ing on a couch watch­ing some TV in the Rec Room inside the Club­house. Or, bring the kids and teach them geom­e­try with a few well-placed shots. There’s also a piano for some fam­i­ly sing-alongs. Or just relax out­side the club­house, nurs­ing your cool or hot bev­er­age to the sounds of the run­ning river. 



Redwood Grove Playset


Built in 2019, this new three-sto­ry play­set gives tykes ages 3–11 a place to get their steam out while you get some me time at your site. There is a bas­ket­ball court near­by for kids of all ages.



Cement paths


My boys brought skate­boards, scoot­ers and bikes and no one said any­thing about them rid­ing around the camp­grounds and, in fact, when they asked per­mis­sion (because our last camp­ground did­n’t allow skate­boards) our camp­site neigh­bor said she insist­ed they ride. Sweet.



The Details


This was our sec­ond RV trip and we appre­ci­at­ed our site allowed us to pull through, which meant we did­n’t have to “help” each oth­er back into it. RVers have a joke that Divorce Court is lined with RV campers who once direct­ed each oth­er to back their trail­ers into their camp­sites. All the camp­sites have full hook-ups to pow­er your elec­tric­i­ty, pro­vide water and drain all the stuff you don’t need. You could watch cable if you bring your own cord and there is free WiFi, no cord needed. 


Santa Crus Redwoods RV Resort

Not Back­ing In



The red­wood trees around the site are enor­mous and some have hol­lowed out areas where a fire or light­ning strike may have eat­en through the mid­dle. These are most excel­lent spots to take photos.



Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Kids Love Pos­ing For Pic­tures In Trees © Rina Nehdar



Things to Do Beyond Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort


Below site #22 is a stair­way that leads down to the San Loren­zo Riv­er, across which is Hen­ry Cow­ell Red­woods State Park. Right across the riv­er is the heav­i­ly traf­ficked Pipeline Trail where we met a vari­ety of friend­ly folks as we walked along the riv­er and red­wood lined cement path. We spoke to a white-haired Eng­lish cou­ple and the wife said she walked her hus­band along this path every day since he devel­oped Alzheimer’s. Anoth­er cyclist we had met had just recov­ered from a ter­ri­ble bike acci­dent after which he had been sus­pend­ed in trac­tion for months. Even cra­zier is we learned through our con­ver­sa­tion we had rent­ed the house where he cur­rent­ly resides in Solana Beach about a decade ear­li­er! The world is a strange and won­der­ful place at times. How­ev­er, this rev­e­la­tion felt appro­pri­ate sur­round­ed by these mag­i­cal woods.



Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

Part­ing the Riv­er © Rina Nehdar



There are tons of oth­er trails and we also explored the Red­wood Loop Trail which has a guid­ed audio tour that you should down­load before you go because once you arrive, the con­nec­tion is spot­ty. Day pass park­ing is $10 per automobile.



Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Bam­bi was not scared at all © Howard Nehdar



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Scotts Valley Skatepark


It’s tech­ni­cal­ly called Scotts Val­ley Sky­park and has many super fun ameni­ties like a skate park, a dog park, a pump track and huge, open fields. But the boys were only inter­est­ed in the skate park. There were rails, stairs and drops into pool-like bowls to keep them amused and wear them out. (Watch the video) I was sur­prised by how nice­ly this park was maintained.



Scotts Valley Skypark

Shred­ding © Rina Nehdar



Santa Cruz Boardwalk


Yes, most of the fun activ­i­ties at the San­ta Cruz Board­walk were also closed due to COVID but all of the arti­fi­cial food col­or­ing, fake sug­ar shops seemed to still be open. A few piz­za stands and oth­er fast food joints also retained the right to oper­ate while every­thing else, the carousel, the roller­coast­ers and the Sky Glid­er remained closed. Although we had nev­er vis­it­ed (and were dis­ap­point­ed to see so much of the board­walk still closed), it looked like it would be a great day for fam­i­ly fun. There were more rides than I imag­ined pos­si­ble in a beach­side board­walk. Near­by, the sun enticed beach lovers to sit on their social­ly dis­tanced blan­kets on the sand between the board­walk and the ocean.



Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Fak­ing It  © Rina Nehdar



Roaring Camp & Big Trees


When we arrived at the San­ta Cruz Board­walk, a train from Roar­ing Camp chugged its way down Beach Street, which runs par­al­lel to the board­walk, whis­tle blast­ing its pres­ence into the air like a mush­room sound cloud. Rid­ers sat social­ly dis­tanced in out­door and indoor seats on a train that orig­i­nat­ed close to our camp­grounds in Fel­ton. There are two train tours. One goes to the San­ta Cruz Board­walk, through Hen­ry Cow­ell Red­woods State Park, over a 1909 steel truss bridge and through a tun­nel before arriv­ing at the beach. The oth­er goes through the red­wood groves and into Bear Moun­tain while the con­duc­tor takes rid­ers through Roar­ing Camp his­to­ry. We did­n’t get to ride either train because they were sold out while we vis­it­ed but it looked fun! 



Roaring Camp & Big Tree Train

Into Anoth­er Time © Rina Nehdar



Mike Fox Park


About a 15-minute walk from the San­ta Cruz Board­walk we found Mike Fox Park, a slim strip of urban grassy area with a respectable skate park attract­ing all lev­els of tal­ent. The boys, of course, enjoyed get­ting to prac­tice their tricks among peo­ple who under­stood how fun some­thing like this could be.



Scotts Valley Skypark

Drop­ping In © Rina Nehdar



As we pulled out of our site at the San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort to head to our next at El Cap­i­tan State Beach, we did­n’t real­ize how fleet­ing the calm could be for an area. As vis­i­tors, we appre­ci­at­ed the nov­el­ty of the enig­mat­ic land­scape, so dif­fer­ent from our own dry land. Although, the fire may have tem­porar­i­ly charred parts of San­ta Cruz, we know that growth is often gen­er­at­ed from unex­pect­ed heat. We pray for the peo­ple who have to rebuild and we look for­ward to vis­it­ing again to help by invest­ing into their econ­o­my as they do so.


Getting There



It’s about a 5 and a half-hour dri­ve from Los Ange­les to San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort but if you’re pulling a trail­er add one or two hours to that. We broke up our trip when we stopped to camp at Pis­mo Beach, so it was only three hours after that. Their web­site does­n’t rec­om­mend fol­low­ing Google Map direc­tions if you’re pulling a trail­er and instead use theirs: Take US-101 north to Exit 347 and turn left onto Hwy 129. Fol­low Hwy 129 through Wat­sonville to Hwy 1. Turn right on Hwy 1 North to Hwy 17 North towards San Jose. Take the Mt. Her­man Rd. exit into Scotts Val­ley. Go 3.8 miles to Gra­ham Hill Road. Make a right on Gra­ham Hill Rd. and go 0.2 miles to High­way 9. Make a left on High­way 9 and go 1.3 miles. The entry to the park will be on the left at 4980.


Thank you to San­ta Cruz Red­woods RV Resort for host­ing our vis­it with the help from the peo­ple at GoRVing.com — a won­der­ful resource to buy or rent RVs and learn where to take them.





A Camping trip to the Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort where the majestic redwoods are your home and state parks are your neighbors. Take a daytrip to Santa Cruz Boardwalk with your kids. Check out the nearby skateparks. A full guide for adventurous families.