Mount Madonna County Park has 4 campgrounds. I've been camping in this park since the late 70s. I've seen some changes over the years…ahem…decades. There's something for everyone here, RVers, tenters, and those who want to rent tent cabins. There are plenty of trails to hike, as well as equestrian trails. No bikes on trails though.
There are several micro climates in this area and temps can vary, besides our weather varies from day to day.
There are trails offering views of the Santa Clara Valley, and trails offering views of the Monterey Bay. The park is above the fog line (most of the year). We don't get rain in the summer here. The park is situated at the County lines of Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County and is part of the Santa Clara County Parks system.
No stores or markets in the park, but you can easily run into town, either Watsonville or Gilroy. It's slightly closer to Watsonville where you will find a gas station/market on 152 (Currently a Valero), or go into Gilroy on 152 for Safeway and more.
There's a small cabin (ranger's station) with a history exhibit and the white reindeer up from the kiosk. My favorite campground in the park is the Tan Oak campground at the top and through the day use area. There are plenty of Geocaches on the trails.
The bathrooms are generally clean. I say generally because I prefer the off season when I have the campground to myself and the bathrooms are super clean, but when the campground is full, like any public bathroom they can need more attention. (Or maybe people just need to clean up after themselves) I've never used the showers, nor the tent cabins. I like the sites because overall they are separated by trees so you don't feel as crowded as more open campgrounds.
Despite signage warning of mountain lions, I have never encountered a single one in all the years of camping here. I've had raccoons and skunks (so lock up your food and belongings), turkeys and deer.
Weekends, especially a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day weekend, can be full. (Not my favorite) I have also stayed for the 4th of July when it fell midweek and had the campground (Tan Oak) literally to myself.
Leashed pets are allowed (2 per site) and 2 cars and 8 people per site.
Beautiful county park in the redwood forest of the coastal range. Varied sites and multiple campgrounds make for a choice option for everyone. We’ve stayed here twice and enjoyed it both times.
This campground is tucked away between Watsonville, CA and Gilroy, CA in a small stand of second growth redwwoods. They have one loop of rv sites and three other loops of gorgeous tent sites. They have redwood trees, showers, restrooms, archery, hiking trails, Henry Miller's vacation home ruins, camp fire programs and a pen of exotic white deer.
I've been camping here my entire life in every season and I never get tired of it.
This campsite offers a variety of amenities.With running water faucets and fire rings, you are sure to have a wonderful time away from civilization.Some events are held at this location,and ypu do have to pay to camp and park,but the quietness of it all is what makes this location unique.This location also offers equestrian activites, an archery range, and oppurtunites for large groups to gather in one of their many beautoful group sites.
The campsites are nice but very close together. There are tons of hiking trails. The miller house ruins are really cool and you can find ghost stories about them if you do some googling.
We had a HUGE campsite. Not sure of the number. The fire pit and picnic table were up near the camp road, but our site had a huge "dish" that was shaded by large trees where we pitched our tent. We camped in November, and it was cool, but not cold. It had been raining and things were damp, but we were comfortable with jackets and a fire in the evenings. Jackets came off during the sunniest part of the day. We did a short hike. Mostly, we stayed in our site and played tabletop games at the picnic table. We really so no other campers or park workers while we were in our site as it was quite secluded.
Mount Madonna County Park is located in the redwood covered hills between Gilroy and Watsonville. The towns Watsonville/Freedom are both located a short drive away for supplies, as well as many restaurants, fruit stands, and gas stations. It feels very rural when you are in the campground, however civilization isn't far away.
Campground Review: Part of the Santa Clara County Parks system, this year round campground is available to reserve online - https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/parkfinder/pages/mtmadonna.aspx - sites are a bit on the expensive side at $34 per night when I booked, but the amenities sort of justify the cost. The park itself contains miles of hiking trails that wind through the redwoods and along the ridgetops, RV hookups and a dumping station, group campgrounds, an amphitheater, horse back riding, showers (free), day use picnic/bbq areas, and multiple campground areas. We stayed in Valley View 3 - site 325. Initially, the plan was to camp the weekend before, but bad weather made us change our plans last minute. The parks service was helpful in getting the reservation changed to the next weekend, and the weekend went off without a hitch. When booking campsites here, I recommend taking some time to research the campsites as they vary in size and privacy. I would recommend 301, 320, 323, 324 in the Valley View 3 area. They offer large sites and privacy. Road noise is minimal, as the park gates are shut at 8pm, so there is no through traffic coming through at all hours. Campsite 325 was right next to the bathroom, which was convenient but made things noisy around bed time and in the morning. Wouldn't recommend this site if you like to sleep in while camping. All the campsites had the basics, table, firepit/grill, food storage locker and potable water was spaced out about every third or fourth campsite. They are some critters here, I saw a few skunks and one wandered right into our campsite at night, so keep an eye out for them. The facilities were very clean and it was pretty dog friendly. In the summer it might get a bit too hot and there are no rivers or lakes to jump in to cool off. The ocean is about a 30 min drive away. Overall it was a great trip, with only the various campsite sizes and privacy being an issue. If you get a good sized site away from the bathrooms it is a wonderful experience. Overall the campground/park as a whole gets 4 stars with cost and varying campsite sizes being the only cons.
Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Mt. Maddona Park I tested the Cotopaxi Uyuni 46L Duffle from Roanline.com - https://www.roanline.com/cotopaxi-uyuni-46l-duffel-in-del-dia/ - Overall this duffel bag worked great, although it may not be as much of a camping duffel, as more of a weekend travel/flying or work/gym duffel. It worked just fine as a camping bag however. It has multiple spaces to stash gear, one pocket on the front that could fit phones, sunglasses, etc, a padded laptop sleeve, and two large inner pockets separated by a nylon barrier so you can keep clean and dirty clothing separate. It easily held two days worth of camping clothes as well as sweatpants and a large jacket, so space isn't an issue on a long weekend trip. The fabric is tough and any spills or dirt can be wiped away easily. It only has one strap so carrying it while hiking is cumbersome. I see it more as a travel bag than a camping bag. If it isn't fully stuffed, you can easily get away with using it as a carry-on when flying. The materials and multiple separate pockets make it great to keep you gym clothes away from your laptop, other clothes, work stuff or to use as a beach bag to keep things from getting sandy while also being easy to clean. Hands down the best feature of the bag is the one of a kind color scheme. It really stands out, so your bag will be easy to identify in crowded areas or at the baggage claim. I would give the bag 4 stars as a car camping bag, but I don't think that is really its designed purpose. It gets 5 stars as a duffel for short trips or to use going to and from the office/gym.
A beautiful spot in a redwood forest. Zero cell coverage or Internet. Handy to Sunset Beach and to legendary farmlands. Nice roomy campsites.