State parks in full swing, often full

A camper sets up his tent at the Sunset State Beach campgrounds Tuesday afternoon. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — California boasts 280 state parks, scattered throughout the state, offering anything from arid desert to verdant forests to rugged mountains.

Visitors from all around the U.S. and the world beyond are now traveling to visit the parks, with most campgrounds full during the entirety of the summer.

Jessica Walker, from Moccasin, Calif. was camping in Sunset State Beach with her husband and three boys, 8, 7 and 5.

The family was on a 15-day road trip that also included Lake Davis Recreation Area. It was their third time visiting the Watsonville-area gem.

“We always try to look for places near the ocean,” Walker said. 

A park employee said the 90-site campground is nearly always full until Labor Day. He said he was seeing visitors from around the state and from other countries, including several folks from Germany.

“Our campsites are rapidly filling up, especially at New Brighton, Sunset and Manresa,” said Terry Kiser, operation supervisor for this district. “All our campsites are pretty much reserved but this is typical for the summer. Right now we have the same staffing as last year so we’re doing OK. If you’re planning on camping it really comes down to making sure you make a reservation; don’t go in thinking you can get a spot.”

Anyone planning on swimming in the ocean is advised to ask a lifeguard about current conditions. A lifeguard is on duty for the rest of the summer at Sunset and Manresa state beaches.

For information, visit



Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park: Located 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 30 miles north of Santa Cruz, off Highway 1; (650) 879-2120

Half Moon Bay State Beach: 95 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay ; (650) 726-8819

• Castro Adobe State Historic Park:184 Old Adobe Road, Watsonville; 226-9669

• Sunset State Beach: On Sunset Beach Rd, just off San Andreas Road. Sunset Beach Rd, Watsonville; 763-7063

Manresa State Beach:1445 San Andreas Rd, Watsonville; 724-3750

Seacliff State Beach: State Park Dr., Aptos; 685-6444

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: 101 N Big Trees Park Rd, Felton; 335-7077

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park: 3600 Highway 1, Davenport; 427-2288

Año Nuevo State Park: Located off Hwy 1, halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, 1 New Year’s Creek Road, Pescadero; (650) 879- 2025

Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way; 338-8883


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