As its name suggests, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is home to one of California's most famous natural features: giant, old-growth redwoods. Many of these towering trees predate the nation itself; the park's oldest tree is roughly 1,500 years old. When you take a sobering stroll through this fascinating forest, you'll follow in the footsteps of celebrated explorers and outdoor enthusiasts, including President Theodore Roosevelt.
Named after shrewd California businessman Henry Cowell, this state park is packed with so much to do, see, and explore that you'll want to park your campervan for a night or three. From ordinary recreational activities like hiking, biking, and swimming to unique events like self-guided treasure hunts and festivals celebrating the native tribes that call this area home, a trip to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a treat for the whole family.
If you're itching to reconnect with nature and marvel at Mother Nature's incredible creations, this expansive natural area has plenty to offer everyone in your camping crew. Speaking of itching, note that poison oak is prevalent throughout the park and at the campground. Make sure you know how to spot poison oak and consider packing some calamine lotion in the rig just in case.
The park's roads are paved but narrow, so take care when driving your campervan or motorhome through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The entrance to the campground is just minutes from Highway 9, which leads into the nearby town of Felton, where campers can stock up on provisions, enjoy some casual dining, or refuel the rig before hitting the road again.
Day-use visitors will have no trouble snagging a parking spot at one of the park's six parking lots, one of which is a designated overflow lot. Note that all day-use visitors and campers must obtain a parking pass from the park office. RV campsites are leveled and gravel, and can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet long.
With 107 sites, there's plenty of room to park your camper at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. All sites come with a picnic table, fire ring, grill, and a food locker. Campers are strongly advised to use the food lockers to avoid attracting potentially dangerous resident wildlife, including coyotes and bobcats. Only electric hookups are provided, and there is no dump station available on-site. A handful of accessible sites are available to accommodate campers with disabilities.
The state park's campground is just a stone's throw away from some of the park's most popular hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas, including the Redwood Grove Loop Trail and Santa Cruz Sandhills natural habitat.
Reservations are typically available during the busy summer season between May and September. The campground is closed during the winter.
As previously mentioned, poison oak is a problem at many of the sites here. Visitors and campers are advised to learn to identify this poisonous plant and stay on designated trails and day-use areas to minimize the risk of exposure.
Sites are available on first-come, first-served in the early spring and late fall. Reservations are available from May to September. The park is closed during the winter.
The aptly named Garden of Eden is a heavenly place to take a dip on a hot summer day. Be aware that the hike to this rocky swimming area in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park will take approximately 15 minutes and includes some steep inclines. Pets are prohibited at the swimming beach, and visitors are reminded to pack out all trash.
Tackle the Redwood Grove Loop Trail to get up-close and personal with the Fremont Tree, the park's tallest redwood towering at 277 feet. You can even walk through the tree! (Talk about a unique family photo op.) Other noteworthy paths in the park's 30-mile trail network include the Cathedral Redwoods Trail, the Kiln Ruins Trail, and the Big Ben Trail. Make sure to stop in the visitor's center to get a brochure so you can take a self-guided tour before you head out on the trail. Hound-dog hikers are prohibited from exploring most of the trails here; if you're bringing your canine companion along, be sure to check any posted restrictions before setting out.
Cycling enthusiasts looking to clock some extra cardio will find a handful of biking routes at Henry Cowell State Park. Don't expect to see any unique flora or fauna along the way, though; because the park has lost nearly half its habitat due to development and invasive species, cyclists are prohibited from exploring natural habitats, including the sandhills. Pipeline Road and the park's fire roads permit cycling.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is home to two entirely native species which can't be found anywhere else on earth! Fauna fanatics will be delighted to spot the park's native (and endangered) species, the Zayante band-winged grasshopper and the Mt. Hermon June beetle. Banana slugs, kingfishers, woodpeckers, coyotes, and bobcats also roam through the redwoods. To protect this delicate natural habitat, please take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.
Taking a guided tour of the redwoods is a great way to get out of the rig and spend a Saturday morning at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park -- and ensure you don't miss any of the park's most famous trees on your excursion. Along the way, visitors will learn why these trees grow so tall and how they, along with the park's critters, shape the local ecosystem.
There's always something going on at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, from nature programs and photography hikes to basket-making workshops and fundraising festivals. Fun annual events include Full Moon Madness, an astronomy-themed educational event that lets visitors explore the park in the dark, and Ohlone Day, which celebrates the Ohlone native culture through dance, food, music, and more. Check the park's event page to find out what's on during your camping trip.