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Butano State Park immerses you in the untouched wilderness of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A haven for local wildlife such as bobcats, bald eagles, and coyotes, the park is set in a whimsical canyon filled with towering redwoods. It occupies almost 5,000 acres and has been welcoming nature lovers since 1956. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fresh air, whether you're hiking scenic trails, admiring rare flora, or gazing up at coastal redwoods, the largest trees in the world.
At just 50 miles from the Golden Gate City, Butano State Park offers a unique opportunity to camp in an RV near San Francisco. You're also an hour and a half from San Jose and less than three hours from Sacramento. Planning a camping trip to the Bay Area? Check out an array of affordable RV rentals in San Mateo County.
More than 40 miles of hiking trails wind through Butano State Park and take you to sun-dappled redwood groves, crystalline creeks, scenic ridges, and deep canyons. As you explore the trails, keep an eye out for colorful orchids, trillium lilies, mushrooms, and California newts. The Little Butano Creek Trail is a family-friendly hike and meanders for a mile and a half through some of the park's most beautiful redwood groves.
Gaining around 200 feet of elevation, Six Bridges Trail takes you through alder woodland and lush redwood forest. Visit at dusk to watch bats streaming out of the artificial cave built by the Sierra Club. For a more strenuous hike, take on the Canyon Loop Trail, which wanders for nine and a half miles and rewards you with breathtaking views.
For an overview of the unique natural history and ecology of Butano State Park, head to the visitors' center. Inside, you can check out exhibits on local flora and fauna, including the park's famous bright yellow banana slugs. One of the largest species of terrestrial slug in the world, they can grow up to ten inches long. There are also a handful of picnic tables outside the visitors' center.
RV camping at Butano State Park offers a unique chance to sleep under a canopy of ancient redwoods. Tucked away in Little Butano Creek Canyon, the Ben Ries Campground enjoys a picturesque hillside location and serene forest setting. Choose from 21 drive-in campsites suitable for RV rentals, as well as an additional 18 walk-in sites. All motorhome camping sites feature picnic tables and fire rings for enjoying your meals outdoors. Remember to clean up your crumbs and store your food in the designated lockers as you'll be sharing your site with squirrels, woodpeckers, and newts. After dark, listen for the hoots of owls and the howls of coyotes.
One of California's more basic state park RV campgrounds, Butano offers simple restrooms with flush toilets. You'll also find potable water taps and dish washing stations throughout the campground. The park can accommodate RV rentals of up to 24 feet in length, which makes Butano a great option for smaller rigs. Pets are welcome when camping with an RV; just be sure to keep your dog leashed and confine them to a tent or trailer overnight. In the summer months, guided nature walks and evening campfire programs are a great way to enrich your stay. Kids love the Junior Ranger programs. Ben Ries Campground also acts as a trailhead for several hiking trails, which makes it a great base for exploring the park on foot.
RV camping at Butano State Park puts you in the heart of beautiful San Mateo County. For a fix of sand and sunshine, spend the day at Pescadero State Beach, a mile-long stretch of sand backed by rocky cliffs. Cool off in the Pacific Ocean, peer into colorful tide pools, or enjoy an oceanfront picnic. History buffs and photographers shouldn't miss Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Set on a rocky clifftop, it's been guiding ships to safety since 1871 and is one of the tallest lighthouses in North America.
At Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve, you'll feel like you've been transported into a David Attenborough documentary. It's home to one of the largest mainland breeding colonies of northern elephant seals in the world, with thousands of the unruly marine mammals flocking to bask on the sand dunes.
A ten-minute drive north, the rural town of Pescadero is a great place to stock up on gas and groceries. It also offers a taste of Northern California's famous agritourism scene. Dig into a bounty of food from local farms and ranches, with specialties including fresh-baked artichoke bread, artisanal goat cheese, organic strawberries, free range eggs, and homemade fruit pies. Fresno, three and a half hours east, is another popular hub to rent a camper near Butano State Park.