Best Camping near Santa Cruz, CA

All 116 places to camp near Santa Cruz, CA. Only on TheDyrt.com: real photos & reviews for all top Santa Cruz campsites, RV parks, free camping, and more.

Camping near Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California, is a fantastic destination for camping enthusiasts. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the lush redwood forests, this area offers a diverse range of camping experiences. Whether you're looking for a serene spot in the woods or a campsite with ocean views, Santa Cruz has something for everyone. From established campgrounds with full amenities to more rustic sites, you'll find the perfect place to set up camp and enjoy the great outdoors.

In this guide, we'll explore some of the top campgrounds near Santa Cruz, what you can do while camping, what campers like and dislike, and tips for families and RVers. We'll also share insights from fellow campers to help you make the most of your camping trip.

What to do

Santa Cruz offers a variety of activities for campers. You can hike through towering redwoods, relax on sandy beaches, or explore charming nearby towns. The region is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.

For hiking enthusiasts, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground offers beautiful trails through ancient redwoods. As Susan Y. mentioned, "Beautiful trails nearby." Read more.

If you prefer beach activities, New Brighton State Beach Campground is a great choice. Haelie A. shared, "Overall, really nice campground, with a trail right to the beach." Read more.

For a mix of both forest and beach, Big Basin Redwoods State Park offers stunning redwood groves and is a short drive from the coast. M G. said, "When you arrive it's like stepping into a whole other world. Huge redwoods blanket the mountain and line every site." Read more.

What campers like

Campers love the natural beauty and variety of camping options near Santa Cruz. The region's campgrounds offer a mix of amenities and settings, making it easy to find a spot that suits your preferences.

Many campers appreciate the well-maintained facilities and clean restrooms. For example, Julie B. noted about San Mateo Memorial Park, "This campground is taken care of. It's clean, has nice bathrooms and coin-operated showers." Read more.

The proximity to both forest and beach is another highlight. Alma L. enjoyed New Brighton State Beach Campground, saying, "Spot 64 was humongous and extremely private. Very close to trail down to the beach." Read more.

Campers also appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere. Christian O. shared about Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground, "Really enjoyable space. Safe. Family friendly. Beautiful location." Read more.

What you should know

While camping near Santa Cruz is generally a positive experience, there are a few things to keep in mind. Some campgrounds can get crowded, and amenities may vary.

For instance, Aaron D. had a mixed experience at New Brighton State Beach Campground, stating, "Lots of annoying group sites, yelling kids, and giant RVs. Quiet hours aren't respected or enforced." Read more.

Additionally, some campgrounds have limited cell service. Ashley Loren C. mentioned about Sanborn County Park, "We hardly had a signal." Read more.

It's also important to note that some campgrounds have specific rules and restrictions. Andrea W. pointed out that Santa Cruz North-Costanoa KOA does not allow rooftop tents. Read more.

Tips for camping with families

Camping with family can be a rewarding experience, especially in the Santa Cruz area, which offers many family-friendly campgrounds and activities.

Choose a campground with amenities that cater to families. Santa Cruz North-Costanoa KOA is a great option, as Nathalie mentioned, "Loved the facilities for the children!" Read more.

Look for campgrounds with easy access to trails and natural attractions. Xi C. recommended San Mateo Memorial Park, saying, "There are many short and easy trails." Read more.

Consider the weather and bring appropriate gear. Melissa R. shared about Mount Madonna, "I will warn, it gets very cold at night always better safe than sorry when it comes to layers." Read more.

Tips from RVers

RVers will find several campgrounds near Santa Cruz that cater to their needs, offering amenities like full hookups and easy access.

Choose a campground with spacious sites. Lori T. praised Mount Madonna, saying, "The RV sites have both water and electric hookups which was great!" Read more.

Be aware of road conditions when driving to your campsite. Kathleen S. advised about Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort, "Don’t use hwy 9 south from Santa Cruz towing. The road is too winding and narrow." Read more.

Check for available amenities and services. Ignasi M. noted about Sanborn County Park, "The RV area has ~20 sites. They all have water and 30 amps hookups." Read more.

Camping near Santa Cruz, California, offers a variety of experiences, from forested retreats to beachside escapes. By considering the tips and insights from fellow campers, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable trip. Happy camping!

Best Camping Sites Near Santa Cruz, CA (116)

    Camper-submitted photo from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground

    1.

    Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground

    41 Reviews
    160 Photos
    775 Saves
    Mount Hermon, California

    Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground, located near Santa Cruz, CA, is a fantastic spot for camping all year round. This place is a haven for nature lovers, offering a serene environment surrounded by towering redwoods and lush greenery. The campground is equipped with essential amenities like flush toilets, coin-operated showers, and picnic tables. You can also bring your pets along, but keep in mind that they aren't allowed on the trails.

    One of the standout features here is the abundance of beautiful trails nearby. Whether you're into hiking or just want a peaceful walk, you'll find plenty of options to explore. The campground itself is spacious, with sites that provide a decent amount of privacy thanks to the dense tree cover. However, some sites might be a bit shaded, which could be a downside if you're relying on solar panels.

    Visitors have praised the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the overall maintenance of the campground. It's a family-friendly spot, safe and enjoyable for all ages. If you're into campfires, you'll be happy to know that fires are allowed, and you can even purchase firewood on-site.

    For those who like a bit of convenience, the campground is just a short drive from the South Bay area, making it easy to pop into town for supplies or a quick bite. Plus, it's close to attractions like Roaring Camp, which adds a fun element to your stay.

    In summary, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground offers a great mix of natural beauty, essential amenities, and convenient access to nearby attractions. It's a place where you can truly unwind and enjoy the great outdoors.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs

    $7 - $35 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from New Brighton State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from New Brighton State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from New Brighton State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from New Brighton State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from New Brighton State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from New Brighton State Beach Campground

    2.

    New Brighton State Beach Campground

    39 Reviews
    126 Photos
    877 Saves
    Capitola, California

    New Brighton State Beach is one of the most popular beachfront campgrounds in California, offering over 100 developed campsites, including 11 RV hookup sites. With bluff top views of the the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, a visitor center museum, shade ramada for group picnics and special events, and campfire center with free summer programs, it’s no wonder New Brighton State Beach is such a favorite destination!

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $185 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED
    Camper-submitted photo from Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED
    Camper-submitted photo from Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED
    Camper-submitted photo from Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED
    Camper-submitted photo from Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED
    Camper-submitted photo from Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED

    3.

    Lower Blooms Creek — Big Basin Redwoods State Park — CAMPGROUND CLOSED

    34 Reviews
    98 Photos
    496 Saves
    Boulder Creek, California

    CAMPGROUND CLOSED DUE TO FIRE:

    Public access to Big Basin has been severely impacted by the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire and ongoing fire recovery work, but the park is now open for limited day-use access. Reservations for parking are not required, but are encouraged due to the limited amount of first-come, first-served parking available. Reserve a parking space. The parking fee is $6 per vehicle plus a $2 reservation fee or $10 per vehicle without a reservation. No reservations or fees are required for visitors arriving by foot, bike, or bus. Read the FAQs for more information on the reservation system and visiting Big Basin.

    Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin camping's biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 1,800 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.

    The park has more than 80 miles of trails. Some of these trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh.

    The park has a number of waterfalls, a variety of habitats (from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes), many animals (deer, raccoons, bobcats) and lots of bird life—including Steller’s jays, egrets, herons and California woodpeckers.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs

    $35 / night

  1. 4.

    Sunset State Beach

    27 Reviews
    70 Photos
    939 Saves
    Watsonville, California

    RVs and Tents. Sunset State Beach camping provides dozens of dune-protected family sites (without hookups) that hold recreational vehicles up to 31 feet in length. Pets must not be left unattended in campsites. Parking for one vehicle is included in camping fees. Additional funds may be collected on site for up to TWO additional vehicles at a nightly rate (this does not apply to tow-in cars or trailers).

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs
    Camper-submitted photo from Mount Madonna County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Mount Madonna County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Mount Madonna County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Mount Madonna County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Mount Madonna County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Mount Madonna County Park

    5.

    Mount Madonna County Park

    29 Reviews
    102 Photos
    363 Saves
    Gilroy, California

    Visitors may choose from 116 drive-in and walk-in reservable campsites spread throughout four campgrounds. Each site comes equipped with a barbecue pit, food locker, and picnic table. Showers are also available (no coins needed) for campers (camping fee required for use of showers), as well as 29 partial hook-up RV sites. Yurts are also available for reservation. These domed-tent like structures come in three different sizes - 16', 20' and 24' offering bunk beds with mattresses, fold out futons and a wrap-around deck.

    Overnight camping is one of the most popular activities at Mt. Madonna. View here for more information about tent, yurt and RV camping. There is no longer first-come, first-serve camping sites.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • RVs
    • Tents
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

    6.

    Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort

    18 Reviews
    18 Photos
    273 Saves
    Felton, California

    Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is nestled in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Situated on the beautiful San Lorenzo River, and backed by Henry Cowell State Park, our clean and well maintained RV Park and campground offers guests a year-round, family-oriented, place to relax. Or a comfortable base camp for your outdoor adventure. We welcome families, groups, and RV clubs of most sizes.

    Experience the richness of Santa Cruz County where a hiking journey begins in an old-growth redwood forest, winds past graceful waterfalls, and ends on a pristine beach. Great outdoor fun awaits you with hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bike riding.

    All RV sites come equipped with full hookups (electric, water, & sewer) and cable TV. There's also a spacious clubhouse on-site, clean bathrooms, hot showers, and much more.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Veteran's Memorial Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Veteran's Memorial Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Veteran's Memorial Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Veteran's Memorial Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Veteran's Memorial Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Veteran's Memorial Park Campground

    7.

    Veteran's Memorial Park Campground

    31 Reviews
    72 Photos
    869 Saves
    Pacific Grove, California

    Veteran's Memorial Park is a popular and beautiful 50 acre park in the forested hills of Monterey. Located only a mile from Downtown Monterey, this park is an affordable and fun way to stay overnight in the Monterey Peninsula. Besides campgrounds (open 365 days per year), the park includes hiking trails under towering Monterey Pine forest and bay views. You will also find BBQ picnic areas, play equipment, turf and lawn playfield and a basketball court.

    FIRE RESTRICTIONS During fire season (June 1st - November 1st, weather pending) no fires allowed and cooking with fuel camp stoves only.

    Campsites are first come, first served; no reservations. Camping is limited to three (3) consecutive days. Vehicles or trailers cannot be longer than 21 feet. Pets are allowed in the camp (leashed and attended only), but are not allowed in hiker/biker sites.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • ADA Access
    • RVs
    • Tents

    $10 - $47 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday

    8.

    Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday

    15 Reviews
    69 Photos
    233 Saves
    Freedom, California

    Soak up the bright sun and take in the crisp ocean air along the California Coast when you stay with us at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday. With our ideal location just minutes from Monterey Bay, you and your family will appreciate an oceanfront camping experience near Santa Cruz as you spend your days with your toes in the sand, relaxing on a beautiful beach. Book your stay with us at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday today!

    **Why Stay at Our Family-Friendly Campground in Santa Cruz? **

    Santa Cruz is home to an assortment of wonderful attractions and places the whole family will love! Of course, the area is full of beautiful beaches for you to visit — a whopping 28 in total! After getting your tan on, take a short drive and visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and its endless array of fun things to do. You'll be able to ride rollercoasters, play mini-golf and eat your fill of fresh cotton candy. The area also has many opportunities to kick back and relax. Bring your clubs and head to the Pebble Beach golf course for a round of golf on some of the most pristine greens anywhere. Take a drive north and explore Napa Valley or head south to discover the more than 60 wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Whether you want a relaxing getaway or one filled with adventure and thrills, the Santa Cruz area is the perfect place to be.

    Ways to Stay With Us in Santa Cruz

    Regardless of how you want to spend your time at our Santa Cruz beach campground, we offer a variety of ways to enjoy the camping experience. For something traditional, we provide individual Tent Sites equipped with water and electric hookups to give you everything you need to enjoy your nights beneath the stars. Our Camping Cabins also offer a rustic lodging experience with the benefits of a roof and a warm bed as you rejuvenate from a day filled with adventure in the outdoors. If you're looking for extreme comfort while beach camping in Santa Cruz, we offer Deluxe Cabins equipped with a kitchen, full bathroom, shower and beds for the whole family. We also provide unique Airstream and glamping cabin opportunities to provide you with a luxurious West Coast camping experience you'll never forget. Looking for a place to park your Airstream or RV? We offer Pull-Thru and Back-In RV Sites with the choice for full hookups. With connections for up to 50 amps and options with a KOA Patio™, you can choose the features you need to enjoy your vacation. Our RV Sites are excellent locations to rest and recuperate as you take in the beautiful surroundings of Santa Cruz!

    Our Beach Camping Amenities and Activities

    Our family-friendly campground in Santa Cruz offers various amenities and recreational activities to help you make memories that will last a lifetime. Spend your days splashing in the pool or participating in weekly events, including several weekends of Halloween fun or seeing the campground transform into a Winter Wonderland with twinkling lights every December.

    Some of our other amenities include:

    • Wi-Fi 
    • Bike rentals
    • Hot tub
    • Volleyball
    • Firewood and propane
    • Outdoor movie theater
    • Jumping pillow
    • Fire rings
    • KampK9® dog park
    • Coconut Palm Tree Climb

    Reserve Your Site With Us Today

    Are you ready to make memories along the California Coast? Take your family on a camping vacation with us near Santa Cruz and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime! Check the availability of our sites online and book your stay at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday today!

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Sanborn County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Sanborn County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Sanborn County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Sanborn County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Sanborn County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Sanborn County Park

    9.

    Sanborn County Park

    18 Reviews
    37 Photos
    128 Saves
    Saratoga, California

    Sanborn County Park, nestled near Saratoga, CA, offers a solid camping experience with a mix of tent, RV, and glamping accommodations. The RV area features around 20 sites, each equipped with water and 30-amp hookups. While the RVs are parked close together, the setup isn't overly intrusive. The park's restrooms and showers are well-maintained, ensuring a comfortable stay.

    One of the standout features here is the park's free Wi-Fi, which, despite some reports of instability, can handle video conferencing. However, cell reception is pretty much non-existent, so plan accordingly. The park also has multiple picnic areas and plenty of space for kids to run around and play. For those who enjoy hiking, there are several trails ranging from short walks to longer hikes.

    The tent and group camp sites are currently closed for forest restoration, but the RV spots are still available. Just a heads-up, the road leading up to the park is narrow, so take it slow, especially if you're driving a larger vehicle.

    Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the frequent sightings of deer and wild turkeys. If you're planning to cook, remember that only charcoal fires are allowed—no wood fires here. The park's quiet, especially midweek, and the gate closes at 8 PM, so make sure to arrive before then.

    Overall, Sanborn County Park is a great spot for a family getaway, offering a mix of nature, convenience, and a touch of adventure.

    • Pets
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs
    • Cabins

    $33 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Cotillion Gardens RV Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Cotillion Gardens RV Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Cotillion Gardens RV Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Cotillion Gardens RV Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Cotillion Gardens RV Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Cotillion Gardens RV Park

    10.

    Cotillion Gardens RV Park

    13 Reviews
    10 Photos
    66 Saves
    Felton, California

    Welcome to Cotillion Gardens RV Park. Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, right next to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, our secret little garden is hidden amongst the massive redwood trees and waiting for your arrival.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs
Showing results 1-10 of 116 campgrounds

Pet-friendly camping near Santa Cruz

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Frequently Asked Questions

What camping is available near Santa Cruz, CA?

According to TheDyrt.com, Santa Cruz, CA offers a wide range of camping options, with 116 campgrounds and RV parks near Santa Cruz, CA and 1 free dispersed camping spot.

Which is the most popular campground near Santa Cruz, CA?

According to TheDyrt.com, the most popular campground near Santa Cruz, CA is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground with a 4.5-star rating from 41 reviews.

Where can I find free dispersed camping near Santa Cruz, CA?

According to TheDyrt.com, there is 1 free dispersed camping spot near Santa Cruz, CA.

What parks are near Santa Cruz, CA?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 13 parks near Santa Cruz, CA that allow camping, notably Pinnacles National Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.