Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Little Basin That Could

blog littlebasin1Try Little Basin Campground for a local camping getaway

Local state parks make for the perfect summer staycation: they are nearby, affordable, beauteous, and, in Santa Cruz’s case, there are several to choose from. And now we can add one more valuable state park campground to our local trove—Little Basin Campground.

Formerly a retreat center for Hewlett Packard employees, the year-round campground is now part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek. Its 524-acre lot is a medley of grassy meadows and majestic coastal redwoods, checkered with 38 tent sites, 12 tent cabins, and RV sites.

It’s hard to imagine a more kid-friendly campground than this one. During my stay, little tykes on bikes and scooters cruised the paved roads that loop through the campground, reveling in their fleeting independence while their parents started campfires and barbecued nearby. Witnessing their unencumbered enjoyment, it was easy to imagine that Little Basin might become the kind of place that families return to year after year; where they’ll bump into other families who do the same, and the children will form lasting friendships defined by summer vacations spent together at this Santa Cruz Mountain campground.

blog littlebasin2United Camps Conferences and Retreats (UCCR), the organization that runs Little Basin through a public/private partnership with California State Parks, fuels this family summer camp vibe with plentiful group activities, like group campfires and nature appreciation walks. If nearby hiking trails aren’t enough to tucker the kids out, the grounds include a playground and sports courts and fields. It’s fitting that UCCR’s educational program, the Web of Life Field (WOLF) School, also operates educational camps for students at Little Basin.

The setup is also prime for group getaways and retreats: in addition to the recreational facilities, there is a group barbecue area, a rentable kitchen, a stage and amphitheater, and they accept group reservations of up to 400 people.

Alas, I did not visit Little Basin with a large group or any boisterous children. But the nascent public campground still gave me just what I needed: a peaceful, sun-drenched weekend camping with good friends. Well, pseudo-camping. Our cabin, named “Jerry’s Joint,” was a simple, spotless structure tucked away amongst towering trees. It’s incredible how much easier camping is when, instead of a tent and headlamp, you have a roof, bed and electricity. The cabin was surprisingly spacious, with a high ceiling, two large sets of bunk beds and a long wooden table. And yet we spent the majority of the time stationed around the fire pit and picnic table out front of the cabin, where the mountain summer is at its best.

The grounds have ample hiking trails to choose from, and the heart of Big Basin is only a short drive away. We opted for a 10-mile hike to Berry Creek Falls that starts from the Big Basin visitor parking lot. 

blog littlebasin4

Other than being long, the hike isn’t too demanding and rewards you with the sight of gorgeous natural waterfalls (which I’m happy to say were rushing with water for my visit). A worthwhile trek, certainly, but be sure to start early in the day if you want to make it back in time for Little Basin’s group campfire.

Other than the pleasant atmosphere and bounteous amenities, perhaps the most memorable thing about Little Basin was the staff, which is impressively friendly, helpful and attentive (one ranger was trying to remember every single camper’s name and, from what I could tell, was succeeding). Not to mention they all seem to genuinely love Little Basin, the place.

If you have a few days to spare before summer is over, why not support your local state parks while enjoying a relaxing outdoorsy staycation? Better yet, the campground is offering a second and/or third night of camping for half off until the end of August (good for Mondays through Wednesdays, only). Learn more at 338-3314 or littlebasin.org.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise