Nestled in the exuberant Santa Cruz Mountains, Butano State Park is a quiet haven of redwood groves with views from 4,000 acres of canyons and uplands- a travel-lover’s dream. Even though they are not the enormous redwood trees you can find in other state parks in California, these redwood trees will still impressively tower over you during nature walks and family hiking excursions. Catching an early hike along the trails will bring you to a view of the beckoning sunlight bouncing off the ocean. Your view of this is crystal clear as the park is only three miles from the coast.
Access to the campground in the State Park is shadowed with trees which gives the park a welcoming, yet secluded feel. The redwoods that envelope the park fully make it unbelievable that the city of Pescadero is merely minutes away. For long vacations take the time to visit and dine at one of the local restaurants before making your way back to the beacon of seclusion which is Butano State Park.
And nature excursion experience will bring you to the diverse wildlife that melds together in the reserve. Banana slugs and newts are treats to look for with children on the many nature walks offered. Listen carefully and an owl may make its presence known, or you may find out that repeated tapping is actually a woodpecker beginning a home. Mosquitoes are also less likely to add distress to your hikes because this area of Southern California would be considered uplands.
The Butano State Park is not difficult to access at its main point of entry near California State Highway 1, but there is restricted access to gain entrance besides that. The roads have room to be driven on by car or RV Camper. Once in the park, the parking spots for RVs may seem scarce because of the size of each of the sites. To fit comfortably, make sure your RV is within the limits Butano State Park specifies.
The layout of the campground allows for drive in campsites in the front area to be more easily available for vehicles. Non-drive in sites are deeper into the park and may require some hiking to access. There are different lengths and difficulties of trails scattered throughout the wilderness. Not all trails are accessible by bike, most of the beautiful trails, filled with redwoods, ferns, wetlands and uplands, are recommended to be taken by foot.
The campground offers availability of 21 drive-in campsites which are completely pet-friendly. They do not have full electrical hookups or water and sewage access available. Using your RV for camping is allowed if, of course, the RV can fit into the designated campground space. Each drive-in campsite has a three vehicle limit and is situated with a fire pit for cooking or cozy nights enjoying the company of friends and the stars. Reservations are taken six months prior to your stay, but there are also walk-in spots available 48 hours beforehand for those looking for a last minute nature getaway. Running generators are acceptable during normal ‘awake’ hours but restricted after 10:00 pm.
Put aside some time for nature while enjoying the breathtaking sights presented in Butano State Park’s three hiking trails. Depending on the amount of time you have to dedicate, pick a trail with the features you long to see. Let the nine and a half mile Canyon Loop trail take your breath away (and not just because of the uphill climbing) or take a short calming afternoon walk around the Butano Creek trail. The Three Bridges trail will give the most engaging views of the ocean and will take you along, you guessed it, three wonderous bridges filled with history.
Close to the beginning of the Three Bridges Trail is a wonderful campfire which has seating for upwards of one hundred people. Sit snuggled with a blanket while listening to camp stories, or enjoy one of the regular special events that are scattered throughout the summer season.
The beauties of nature take an intellectual turn when you can trace the history of the park with a knowledgeable guide. These guided tours are ideal for family groups that may need to travel slowly, or those who appreciate the details and history of Butano State Park. They occur seasonally and when summer is in full swing. It is impossible to not find a time that works for your family to join the state park team for some outdoor fun with plenty of facts.
With the numerous types of birds inhabiting the area, all times of year are great for deciphering the different calls in their peaceful habitat. The sound of chirping floats in the air as all of the differing birds unite to echo in the tree canopies as if participating in an orchestra.
California State Parks are more than prepared to help parents find fun and educational activities for their children. The Junior Rangers, for instance, is a group that children 7 – 12 can participate in free of charge and join in learning about different aspects of natural sciences daily. One of the best programs is the Litter Getter program which awards children for making a difference by turning in a bag of litter collected from the park.
The visitor center at Butano State Park is filled with informational nature graphics. There are interactive stations for children which depict the various habitats filled with differing wildlife. The plant ecosystems are also showcased on the walls and a few stands. The deep natural history of the park and the diverse habitats make for an interesting visitor center with more than trail maps to offer.