Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground

Sunbeam in Cowell Redwoods State Park
••• Sunbeam in Cowell Redwoods State Park. Ashley/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is one of the prettiest campgrounds in the Santa Cruz area, sheltered under the trees. The surroundings are spectacular, in the middle of a stand of oak and pine trees. Despite what the name of the park implies, the campground itself is in the trees, but they are the redwoods — which are nearby.

Campsites at Henry Cowell are within sight of each other, but not so close that you'll feel like you're sleeping with the people next door.

 

The downside of this lush, wooded location is that it fosters a lot of poison oak. If you don't know what it looks like, take the time to read the sign near the entrance, which shows it in all seasons. Or here's a good resource about how to identify and avoid it.

Lots of hiking trails leave from the campground. In fact, it has access to almost 20 miles of them, and that's the major activity for people who stay here. On those trails, you can explore forests of old growth redwood trees and four distinct ecosystems. You might even come across a banana slug or a bobcat.

Henry Cowell is a favorite place for many Santa Cruz and San Francisco Bay Area residents. Online reviewers like it and the only serious complaint is about the poison oak. You can read their reviews at Yelp.

Henry Cowell is only one of the places you can go camping near Santa Cruz. You can find more places to camp near the beach, more places to camp near town and some campgrounds in the nearby mountains if you use this Guide to Camping at Santa Cruz.

What Facilities Are There at Cowell Redwoods State Park? 

Cowell Redwoods has 109 sites for RVs and/or tents. It can accommodate campers up to 35 feet long and trailers up to 31 feet long, but it has no hookups. A small area is also set aside for bicycle campers.

The campground has real restrooms with flush toilets and showers.

 Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, but no water spigot. Bring a container to carry water to your site. Firewood is available for sale or you can bring it with you. 

What You Need to Know Before You Go to Cowell Redwoods State Park

  • Alcohol is not allowed in the campground.
  • Sites are open seasonally.
  • Dogs are allowed in the picnic area, the campground, and on Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, and Meadow Trail. You can't take them on any other trails or interior roads.
  • Reservations are a necessity on weekends and during the summer, as much as 6 months in advance, and you need to be ready to jump on them when the reservation window opens. Learn about how to make California state park reservations.

How to Get to Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground

2591 Graham Hill Road
Scotts Valley CA
Cowell Redwoods Website

Cowell Redwoods State Park is divided into two locations on either side of Felton. To reach the campground traveling from San Jose, take Highway 17 toward Santa Cruz. At Scotts Valley, turn right on Mt. Hermon Road. Follow Mt. Hermon Road to the end at Graham Hill Road, turn left and go about 2.5 miles. The campground entrance is on the right.

From Santa Cruz, the campground is a little over 3 miles from the intersection fo Graham Hill Road and Highway One.

The park is about 30 miles from San Jose and 75 miles from San Francisco. It's about an eight mile 20-minute drive from there to the middle of Santa Cruz.